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Five great extracurricular activities in New York for kids with autism

Written by
Dana Greenberg

My son has autism, so finding after school and weekend activities for him to do in New York is not always easy. I try to focus on finding things that he can enjoy, which can sometimes be tricky. He is 13 now, and over the years we have tried a variety of activities. Some have worked well; others not at all. There's been a lot of trial and error, but here are five great extracurricular activities for kids with autism in New York that we've tried (and love)!

Atlas for Autism      

Atlas for Autism is much more than just a school. They have after school options including social groups, tutoring and therapies, and work on goals in a child's IEP or those suggested by the parent. If your child needs peer-to-peer interaction, they can get that here. They also have weekend activities, which include a drop off program, open play, an art program and mini camps available during school breaks. The facility is a massive, so the children are not on top of each other. My son always comes out of Atlas happy—and tired.

Kicking the Spectrum

This program has been amazing. They offer weekday and weekend classes, and I am still amazed that my son is able to take karate at a dojo. Classes vary in size depending on your child's needs. Our instructor is wonderful—he knows exactly how to talk to him, gives him breaks when they are needed and is extremely patient. I only wish I had discovered this gem a few years ago.

Innovative Music

My son, like many kids, loves music. He's able to go to Innovative Music after school, and attends a music group with a few other kids. The size of the groups and amount of adults depend on the needs of the children involved. They sing, play a variety of instruments and dance. It’s a great place for him to let out some extra energy, and the teacher is fabulous. She really understands the kids and incorporates all of what each of them love into each session.

Friendship Circle

Friendship Circle is an amazing program. There, typical teens are paired up with special needs children (who are all supervised by adults). It is a two-hour drop off program, during which time there are different activities that could include sports, art or music and a snack time. Happily, my son runs in to find his “friend” for the day. When I pick him up, he excitedly strings together words to tell me about how amazing it all was.

School of Rock

If your child has a knack for playing an instrument, this is a great place for one-on-one lessons. My son has an ear for music, so piano and drum lessons were right up his alley. We were lucky enough to be paired up with a terrific, patient and all around cool teacher. I gave the school my son’s background so they would understand what type of teacher would be best for him. Their New York location is on the Upper East Side, but they have other locations throughout the tri-state area.

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