Rainbow Connection is a summer program developing connections between children and the people in their lives.
Rainbow Connection is a program specifically designed to develop connections between children and the people in their lives. It is an inclusive summer camp program held at Rainbow Academy for children with disorders of relating and communicating; i.e., Asperger’s Syndrome, specific learning disabilities, and high functioning Autism. Children participate with peers in exciting camp activities including swimming, sports activities, arts and crafts, music and movement, nature, and horseback riding. Time is also spent with friends learning social and emotional skills to help with interactions throughout the day. Opportunities for children to know, care about, and act on core ethical values – such as fairness, honesty, compassion, responsibility, and respect for others are supported through this program. Criteria for enrollment includes those children between 6 and 10 years old with abilities listed above, and who are included with typical peers for more than 35% of the school day.
The camp day includes a Morning Meeting, an interactive lesson using techniques from the Responsive Classroom curriculum, where campers learn to greet each other, acknowledge each other, and share thoughts and feelings with each other. Campers join typical peers for a range of indoor and outdoor activities, with support from their core group staff. “Reminding, reinforcing, and redirecting” are the three “Rs” reinforced throughout the day. Newly acquired skills are maintained and further strengthened throughout the day as social interactions develop. Approaches teach self-regulation, self-initiative, and interpersonal reciprocity.
Later in the day, the core group of Rainbow Connection come together for an Afternoon Meeting (social skills lesson). During this session, the children learn: 1) Empathy skills that are needed to identify emotions and to recognize possible causes of the emotions that occur in their interactions with others. Lessons involve taking into consideration others’ perspectives, giving others the benefit of the doubt, responding emotionally to others, and giving positive responses to the distress of others. 2) Impulse control and problem solving teaches children that when they are having a problem, it is useful to first calm down, and then apply a set of problem-solving steps. Children are taught and given opportunities to practice strategies they can use to calm down when they are feeling strong emotions. 3) Anger management is taught so that children can deal with strong emotions and express them in socially acceptable ways. Children learn to use strategies such as thinking calming thoughts, breathing deeply, doing a calming activity, and reframing stressful situations to focus on positives. Curriculum from Second Step, a program that teaches critical social and emotional skills to children is implemented. Following Afternoon Meeting (the social skills session), campers complete an afternoon of indoor and outdoor activities.
The true beauty of the Rainbow Connection program is that campers learn new skills, but are then able to practice these skills in situations with typical peers throughout the day. During this inclusive time, core group staff can use incidental teaching or “teachable moments” as opportunities to coach, provide constructive feedback, and give positive reinforcement to campers to support their newly acquired skills during real-life situations.
Rainbow Connection is a perfect combination of the benefit of special education expertise and inclusion with typical peers in a social and recreational setting. Directors of Carousel Farm and Rainbow Academy have created a curriculum that is able to meet the unique child’s needs in a positive and loving endeavor of fun, fun, fun!!!
For more information, call to set up an interview and tour with Dan LaGrotte, at 215-355-6498.
Please speak with the director about scholarship options. Each year, we apply to organizations to help with scholarship money for children applying to our programs. For 2014, Rainbow Connections has been the recipient of the Baker Grant from www.autismspeaks.org . We are also a recipient of a scholarship grant from the Bucks County Autism Support Coalition . We are grateful to these wonderful organizations for their never-ending support of children with autism.