Summer Camp Unites Kids with Autism, 'Neuro-Typical' Peers

Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support provides unique summer experience for kids

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (June 21, 2011) — For many children, camps are a standard summer activity. The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University believes opportunities to learn new skills and meet new friends should be available for children on the autism spectrum as well. For the second year, the Kinney Center is offering a five-week summer camp designed to provide fun, stimulate imaginations and encourage social growth for all children by bringing together those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their “neuro-typical peers.”

“Children learn not only from adults, but from each other,” says Michelle Rowe, Ph.D., executive director of the Kinney Center at Saint Joseph’s University and professor of health services. “Kids learn the most in natural environments. Campers with ASD get to witness first-hand the types of social skills expected of them at a particular age. The activities we provide offer rich sensory experiences, lots of opportunities for interacting socially and the chance to build self-esteem and confidence.”

Beginning June 27, 32 campers will arrive on SJU’s Maguire Campus for a summer experience unlike any other. This year, the renovated Gabriel Hall will serve as home base for the campers, who will be organized into age groups ranging from three to 14 years. All participants will have customized, visual schedules and/or written lists of what they will be doing each day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will also have choices for activities, which include swimming, cooking, dancing, sensory activities, crafts and more. Each child with autism will have one-on-one support provided by trained Kinney Center SCHOLARS (Students Committed to Helping Others Learn about Autism Research and Support).

Camp highlights include a visit from Philadelphia Zoo animals, a theatre workshop presented by the Walnut Street Theatre, a magic show provided by Kimberly and Company and a visit from the Phillie Phanatic and the Eagles Bookmobile. Campers will also go to the Please Touch Museum on Thursday, July 28.

About: With its roots in the Jesuit mission of service and cura personalis, or care for the whole person, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support seeks to address the needs of those who struggle day-to-day with autism, either as individuals or caregivers. The mission of the Kinney Center is to provide multi-disciplinary education and research opportunities for students, teachers, professionals, and parents who seek to improve and extend opportunities, outcomes, quality of life and best practices in treatment for people with ASD. The Kinney Center offers services, resources, and information; support and guidance; and tools for public and individual advocacy that contribute to improved autism awareness and care.

In addition to the summer camp, the Kinney Center offers a Kids Night Out program, an after-school social skills program, a sports program, an academic minor for SJU students, and a college-bound retreat for college-age students with ASD.

For more information, contact the Kinney Center at 610-660-2170 or

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Director of Communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, 610-660-1385,

Expand this section