When you think of recreation for adults living with autism, what images or programs come to mind? Maybe you think of happy adults bowling, hiking or gathered at a community center craft table. Or maybe you didn’t have an image and you believe the recreation community has not caught up with the needs of the adult population impacted by autism.

Regardless, we all know recreation, leisure and play are particularly important for adults living with autism. Many of the new skills and experiences gained through recreation can be applied to school, community and work settings. Recreation can increase independence, create a chance to be around peers, and give the valuable opportunity for those living with autism the chance to make their own choices. Through play we express ourselves, feel, move, gain confidence and make connections. Simply put— recreation, play and leisure give us joy, freedom and an opportunity to take risk— one of the best things about being a human being. Meaningful and appropriate recreation opportunities are also a powerful means to provide dignity and respect for those living with autism.

Remember the thrill of catching a ball, running in the sand, floating in the water, hiking along a wooden path, hanging upside down from monkey bars, resting in a hammock or the joy of jumping on a trampoline? Finding a program that provides this bliss and can accommodate the specific needs of adults living with autism will take some work and there may be a few failed attempts. This will be no surprise for a community that is accustomed to digging a little deeper to get their needs met. But the reward is joy, freedom, choice, and hopefully lots of fun!

There is good news for those of you in search of adult recreation in our region. There are a number of great autism-friendly programs, services and opportunities:

If you know a program not listed below, we welcome your input and recommendations.

Outdoors for All : (ages 5 – 21)

Special Olympics of Washington : (all ages)

Seattle Parks and Recreation : (ages 18+)

Camp Fire: Camp Sealth Special Family Weekend : (all ages)

Other Camp Fire camps

Aspiring Youth Summer Program : (Young Adults with Aspergers, ADHD, learning disabilities)

TOP Soccer : (ages 4+)

Challenger Baseball Team : (ages 5-18)

Easter Seals services for adults and camp guide : (all ages)

Autism Day at Jubilee Farms : A free, fun-filled event designed for families touched by autism, offered August 13, 2011. A chance to relax in a beautiful setting surrounded by people who understand. Various individuals, companies, service providers, and organizations provide free activities with our children in mind.

Sensory Friendly Movies:

Contact AMC Kent Station 14 for show listings and times.

Resource Guides:

Arc of King County

Life Enrichment Options

Asperger Support Network


Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Recreation by Phyllis Coyne and Ann Fullerton

Developing Leisure Time Skills for Persons with Autism Structured Play Activities by Phyllis Coyne

Cabins, Canoes and Campfires: Guidelines for Establishing a Camp for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Jill Hudson

To learn more about autism and recreation please visit Autism Speaks.