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Afterschool Care


If you are a working parent, you may need to find afterschool care for your child. Finding a good program for a child on the autism spectrum can be difficult, but it is important to make sure the program is a good fit for your child.

You will want a program that has some of the same attributes as your child’s school program. Ideally, look for a smaller environment with some structured activities, run by staff who have experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). If your child receives Behavioral Health services, there may be programs available through that system that may be a good fit. If you are unable to find a program with ASD-experienced staff, look for staff who are willing to learn about ASD and who are willing to be flexible about their approach to working with children.

To help your child have a good experience at aftercare, it is a good idea to talk to the staff at the aftercare program about your child. Knowing what helps your child (for example, a warning before transitions or a visual schedule) will make the experience more successful for everyone. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan, consider sharing it with the center you choose or at least sharing the list of accommodations that your child receives and the behavior support plan, if your child’s plan includes one. Of course, it is up to you whether or not to disclose your child’s diagnosis, but doing so may help the staff to understand why your child behaves in certain ways and may make them more willing to make accommodations.

If your child has behaviors which are difficult to manage, you may find it more difficult to find a good aftercare program. Too many families are caught in a situation where their child is asked to leave an aftercare program with very little notice. Depending on where your child receives aftercare, there are laws that set a program’s responsibilities to children with disabilities. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to public entities and to places of public accommodation, prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires most afterschool programs to provide reasonable accommodations unless the accommodation would fundamentally alter the program, pose a direct threat to the child or others, or otherwise impose an undue burden on the center. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also prohibits discrimination against children with disabilities and applies to public schools. If an aftercare program is held in a public school building, the program may, in some circumstances, be subject to Section 504.

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The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.