All of us benefit when we focus on our health and well-being through physical activity and creative expression. The key to success is often finding the right programs or classes to match our needs and interests. With that in mind, we’d like to begin sharing opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum to explore health, fitness and the arts.
Fitness resources will be important to many readers for the purpose of improving muscle tone, coordination, balance, energy, social skills, behavior or to promote independence. Other readers may be athletes looking for autism-friendly opportunities to maintain their fitness while pursuing sports or fitness activities they enjoy.
Art activities can serve as a fun pastime where participants can interact in a positive, creative social environment. Some people may benefit from more structured art therapy programs to promote expression of ideas and emotions, lower stress, or learn new behaviors and skills. Others will discover that art is an amazing platform for sharing who they are and/or will produce beautiful works that can lead to public recognition or an art career.
For inspiration, visit The Art of Autism. They offer support and a platform for artists, musicians and creative writers on the autism spectrum, in part by “providing a forum for displaying, selling and promoting the art of autistic individuals, including visual and fine artists; poets, video/film content providers, singers and writers.” You’ll enjoy all the featured artists on that site!
In short, we know an active, well-rounded lifestyle can help in every phase of our lives. It’s beneficial for everyone, whether on the spectrum or not, to engage our bodies in physical activity and our minds in creative pursuits.
This list is based on our reading and should not be considered an endorsement of any program or opportunity. There is no one size fits all approach, so please click and explore them yourself. Also, this is just a beginning – we plan to keep adding resources to this post, so please feel free to let us know about other programs to include!
Art Enables, offers a number of programs for artists with disabilities to help build successful careers in the arts. Established in 2001 with a studio in Washington, DC, they have a studio art program, exhibitions & gallery program and community arts program to help artists gain experience and grow.
“Art Enables is an Art Gallery and Vocational Arts program dedicated to creating opportunities for artists with disabilities to make, market, and earn an income from their original and compelling artwork.”
“Art Enables believes that artists with disabilities are vital to a robust arts landscape and should be afforded the opportunity to pursue art as a vocation and career. Art Enables works with artists that experience a broad range of developmental and cognitive disabilities as well as mental health challenges including autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, among others. Art Enables’ artists are largely self-taught and tell honest, unfiltered and powerful stories through their artwork.”
Art Without Boundaries Association
Art Without Boundaries helps individuals with autism using MnemeTherapy®. This organization recruits, trains and certifies artists as Mnemetecnic therapists using social media, conference calls and online training.
“We are a Professional Association with a mission to improve the quality of life for individuals with Autism, Alzheimer’s disease and other related disorders of the brain.”
“MnemeTherapy® (pronounced Nemma) uses everyday pleasures such as singing, movement, painting and storytelling in a unique combination to stimulate dramatic changes in the brain. Although our goal is to provide a rewarding experience, documented testimonies show significant improvement in some clients in verbal skills, mobility, combativeness, spatial acuity, understanding instructions, plus much more!”
Artistic Spectrum Digital Communications (ASDC)
ASDC is a New Jersey-based digital art lesson program for children and adults with autism. Their unique platform offers fun online resources for subscribers to learn new art techniques, and in-home tutoring and community center programs are accessible for local NJ clients.
“Artistic Spectrum Digital Communications is an animation and visual effects studio for children and adults on the autism spectrum. Based in Northern New Jersey, we serve exceptional minds with untapped potential. Our core programs include animation, drawing and painting training.”
“Artistic Spectrum Digital Communications’ art lessons are narrated by Asher Rottenstrich. The first of three boys, Asher was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome as a child. After observing his unwavering fascination with art, his father made a concerted effort to expose Asher to this activity as much as possible.”
With spaces in Orange, Montclair and throughout NJ, Arts Unbound is a non-profit that has been helping adults and seniors with disabilities express their creative visions since 2000. They have art exhibitions, an online store, career coaching services and art classes for artists at all levels.
“Arts Unbound is a non-profit visual arts organization providing arts education for all, and coaching and exhibition opportunities for artists with disabilities and emerging senior artists. By highlighting the work of artists with disabilities, we center their art-making rather than any impairments and contribute to a more inclusive art marketplace.”
“Arts Unbound programs reach 200-300 individuals annually through programs in our studio, in students’ homes, and at various off-site locations in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Monmouth, Bergen and Morris counties, including public and special schools, senior centers and agencies serving people with disabilities.”
Arts Work for Autism Services Inc.
Autism Services Inc. (ASI) in Amherst, NY creates meaningful opportunities that enrich the lives of people with autism, their families and their communities. The ASI Arts Program gives artists a platform to express themselves and create art however they see fit.
“The Arts Programs at Autism Services, Inc. were created by CEO Veronica Federiconi in 2002, with the mission to give people with autism the opportunity to become involved in the visual and performing arts.”
“We partner with professional artists and arts organizations to create collaborative projects, reciprocal learning opportunities, and arts events. ASI artists are established members of the Western New York arts community, achieving personal and professional milestones such as solo exhibitions, public performances, recognition, and awards.”
ASD Fitness Center
ASD Fitness Center in Orange, Connecticut, is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum through their health and fitness programming. ASD offers one-on-one personal training, Individual Fitness Programs (IFP), Adaptive Physical Education (APE), Summer Camp programs and group classes such as karate, cardio boot camps, strength training, yoga and Zumba.
“With our International Sports and Sciences Association (ISSA) certified trainers who lead individual and group activities, each member is welcomed by familiar faces all of whom create a positive atmosphere. ASD Fitness Center’s sensory-friendly facility makes each member feel at home.”
“With specialized fitness programs and classes tailored to our members’ abilities, we are able to ensure each individual reaches their goals in a comforting environment.”
Autism Fitness® Education & Certification
Autism Fitness® training programs and certifications teach fitness professionals, licensed therapists, educators and parents to support athletes with autism.
“Autism Fitness® courses, tools, resources and community network empower support professionals worldwide to deliver adaptive fitness programming to anyone with developmental deficits to create powerful daily living outcomes that last a lifetime.”
“Every program, event and tool inside the Autism Fitness® framework is designed to enable effective, fun and meaningful fitness outcomes for every individual across the spectrum.”
Be The Best Sport
Be The Best Sport offers special needs adaptive sports programming to children and adults out of various satellite locations across Long Island, NY, including the Mid-Island Y JCC and the YMCA at Glen Cove. Programs include basketball classes, bike riding, kickboxing, karate, sports birthday parties, soccer, track and field and more.
“Be The Best Sport is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization focused on providing special needs adaptive sports and socialization program for children, teens, and adults.”
“Our mission is to create and provide fun and exciting programs for children, teens, and adults with special needs ages 3 & up; such programs will offer recreational sports as well as socialization activities for the participants and their families.”
Brooklyn Autism Center
The Brooklyn Autism Center (BAC) offers several sports programs for adults, including Fast Feet NYC, a running program adapted to the needs of children and young adults on the autism spectrum, and Swim Works, providing one-on-one swimming instruction using Adaptive Aquatics techniques overseen by a coach that is Special Olympics certified.
“The Brooklyn Autism Center (BAC) is a non-profit school dedicated to providing high-quality education to students with autism in Brooklyn, NY.”
“We offer our students frequent opportunities that increase physical fitness, improve socialization, build self-esteem, introduce them to new experiences, and motivate them to succeed.”
Camp Callahan serves children and adults ages 6 to 65 with a variety of physical and cognitive disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder. The camp’s programs are broken down into weekly sessions in a specialized environment with equipment, activities, accessible buildings and trained staff.
“Camp Callahan Program is conducted at Saukenauk Scout Reservation located 25 miles north of Quincy and 4 miles east of Lima, Illinois. It is the property of the Mississippi Valley Council.”
“The ‘Yes I Can!’ camp for children and adults with special needs.”
More coming soon! If you would like us to include you in this article, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.