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Adventure Camp Provides Activities for Children with Autism

At summer camp this year, fifth-grader Joshua swam in the pool, played on the playground and raced around the gymnasium. Although these activities seem like those of any child at camp, Joshua, who has been diagnosed with autism, would not be able to do these things without St. Louis Variety Club’s Adventure Camp and the assistance of University of Missouri–St. Louis College of Education faculty.

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior. It effects 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys. More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.

April Regester, assistant professor of teaching and learning at UMSL, spent several weeks before this year’s camp preparing and working with camp counselors, training them on how to work with the campers who have autism. Then during the weeklong camp, which ran three times, twice in June and once in July, she assisted with the campers and counselors.