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AutismUp Named Finalist for Bank of America Impact Award

By Rochester Business Journal Staff

The 2015 Greater Rochester Awards honor 14 individuals and six organizations for their contributions to the area’s non-profits.

AutismUp's Summer Social Skills Education Program is a finalist for the 2015 Bank of America Impact Award as profiled below. For the full story, visit RBJ.


Bank of America Impact Award AutismUp’s summer social skills program

AutismUp’s summer social skills education program has grown in eight years from a vision to a flagship program for the autism support organization.

Starting with nine campers in 2007, the AutismUp summer program has provided recreation and social opportunities for more than 500 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including more than 100 campers this year at the YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead in Pittsford and Camp Bay View in Webster.

The summer program is designed to help children with autism learn to socialize with typical peers while receiving guidance from social coaches disguised as camp counselors, according to AutismUp executive director Sarah Milko.

“From the outside, it all looks very typical,” Milko says. “But from the inside, these kids are working hard to learn to socialize, which gets at the core deficit of any individual with autism.”

This year, AutismUp provided nearly $28,000 in camp scholarships, raised from grants and donations, and has provided more than $145,000 in aid since 2010.

“Like all kids, the best place to learn to socialize is in a typical setting,” Milko says. “What better way for children with major social and communication impairments to learn than in a fun camp setting with typical peers? For many children with autism, this is their only chance all year long to be integrated with typical peers that include neighbors and even siblings.” —Richard Zitrin

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