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Autism-Friendly Recreational Activity Guide

This list is intended to be a working draft and we are happy to include your input or corrections. We encourage xMinds members to provide their feedback about their experiences with these organizations or others under the Recreational Activity topic in the members-only discussion group at the xMinds website.

*Denotes activities by xMinds Professional Members

CREATE Arts Center

Location: 816 Thayer Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Contact: 301-588-2787; arttherapy@createartscenter.org
Website: http://createartscenter.org/programs/art-therapy/art-for-autism/

Art for Autism provides art therapy to address the specific needs of young people with Autism or Autistic features. Therapeutic art activities, using a variety of materials, are designed to encourage relationship-building within the group. Therapists incorporate repetitive activities, providing members the consistency and comfort of using the same materials over several sessions. Gradually, therapists introduce slight variations and eventually, together, the group chooses other projects.

*Fitness for Health

Location: 11140 Rockville Pike, Suite 303, Rockville, MD 20852
Contact: (301) 231-7138; info@fitnessforhealth.org
Website: http://www.fitnessforhealth.org

Fitness for Health strives to build self-esteem and self-confidence, and to make a difference in the lives of the children with whom they work. Combining state-of-the-art equipment with innovative approaches to exercise, Fitness for Health helps people of all ages and abilities enjoy the benefits of physical activity while having fun. Founder Marc Sickel is fulfilling his dream of helping children maximize their physical potential. By using specialized equipment and unique methods, Marc has created an exciting, safe environment where children can develop the motivation and confidence to learn new skills and take on new challenges. Fitness for Health offers a non-intimidating, relaxed environment where children can feel comfortable. Therapeutic fitness, Occupational and Physical Therapy services are available. Fitness for Health frequently partners with xMinds Professional Member, Center for Communication and Learning to offer social skills programming in the context of movement and exercise.


Location: 5707 Arundel Ave., Unit B, Rockville, MD 20852
Contact: 301-348-8763; info@groovetoday.com
Website: https://www.groovetoday.com/

Groove’s mission is to help everyone build connection and share their passion for the arts and for movement. Groove’s adaptive specialists make sure that nothing stands in the way of an individual who wants to participate in our programming and in the community. Using techniques informed by the most cutting-edge clinical and educational approaches, Groove applies our knowledge to help every child succeed, no matter what their adaptive differences may be. Current offerings include music, dance, yoga, and rock climbing.

Imagination Stage Access Classes

Location: 4908 Auburn Avenue Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Contact: 301-280-1631; kkeddell@imaginationstage.org
Website: https://www.imaginationstage.org/searchclasses/access-and-inclusion

Arts Access Classes and Teen Workshops are designed for students with cognitive/developmental disabilities. These classes offer the same curriculum covered in our general education classes, allowing students to have a deep exploration of their art form. Students will be provided a variety of entry points to the material with supports such as higher student-teacher ratios. Past offerings have included Improvisation, Musical Theatre, Physical Comedy, Improvisation, and Hip Hop Dance, and Filmmaking.

The Pegasus Ensemble is a two-year conservatory program for students with cognitive and/or developmental disabilities, providing the opportunity to further develop their theatre arts technique and life skills while working together as an ensemble. Students explore movement, text, and improvisation, which leads to a full production.

Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (KEEN) Greater DC-Baltimore

Locations: Tilden Middle School, 11211 Old Georgetown Road, Rockville, MD 20852
Georgetown Prep, 10900 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, MD 20852 (for swim program)
TaeKuk (T.K) Martial Arts, 6831 Wisconsin Ave., 402, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 (for Tae Kwon Do)
Contact: 301-770-3200; info@keengreaterdc.org

KEEN Greater DC (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) is a volunteer-led nonprofit -- 501(c)(3) -- organization that provides one-to-one sports and recreational opportunities for children and young adults with developmental and physical disabilities at no cost to their families or caregivers. Activities include sports, swimming, music, and tae kwon do.

*Kids Being Kids

Location: Carl Sandburg Learning Center, 451 Meadow Hall Drive, Rockville, MD 20851
Contact: 301-473-1535; saturplay@kidsbeingkids.org
Website: http://www.kidsbeingkids.org

Kids Being Kids is an organization that specializes in play-based learning for children with special needs. This learning includes increasing communication, building friendships, self-regulation skills, lifetime wellness, and many more. We offer a weekend social-emotional skills program called Saturplay. Our programs are lead by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Special Educators with low child to staff ratios. We believe kids learn and generalize their learning best through play!

*MOCO Movement Center

Location: 5268-A Nicholson Lane, Kensington, MD 20895
Contact: 301-770-5437; info@MOCOmc.com Website: http://www.MOCOmc.com

MOCO Movement Center takes pediatric therapy out of the clinic and into the real world. With a synthetic ice rink, climbing wall, agility courses and professional musical studio, our modern facility has something for everyone. MOCO is a center where children can play side-by-side with their peers not even realizing they’re receiving cutting edge and effective therapy. Therapist and children work together so the child can learn foundational skills in the center and take them out in the “field” where the child can practice skills to participate with their community, peers and family. Offerings include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, behavioral health, and movement classes.

Montgomery Cheetahs Hockey Club

Location: Cabin John Ice Rink, 10610 Westlake Drive, Rockville, MD 20852
Contact: montgomerycheetahs@gmail.com
Website: http://www.montgomerycheetahs.org/

Founded in 2006, Montgomery Cheetah Special Hockey brings together kids of all ages with a developmental disability to teach the game of hockey and sportsmanship. The Cheetahs skate on Saturday mornings at Cabin John Ice Rink and are led a by dedicated group of volunteer coaches who combine hockey and social skills. Peer mentors assist Cheetah athletes by guiding and supporting each player.

Montgomery County Department of Recreation

Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services

Location: Varies
Contact: 240-777-6870; rec.mainstream@montgomerycountymd.gov
Website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/rec/thingstodo/therapeutic/

Therapeutic Recreation programs provide skill development, leisure education, personal development, and recreational participation for individuals with various disabilities. The programs encourage socialization in order to nurture relationships among all participants. Inclusion is an opportunity for participants in recreation programs alongside individuals without disabilities. Inclusion support encourages the facilitation of meaningful relationships between all participants involved in MCR programs.

Montgomery Parks - Program Access

Location: Varies
Contact: 301-495-2477; ProgramAccess@MontgomeryParks.org
Website: http://www.montgomeryparks.org/about/program_access.shtm

Program Access, also referred to as “Inclusion” within the Montgomery County Department of Parks, is the means by which individuals with disabilities are welcome to participate in recreational programs and activities of their choice. Reasonable accommodations are provided to enable an individual’s successful participation in a program. Some minimum eligibility requirements (age, level of participation) must be met in order to participate.


Location: 10417-B Metropolitan Ave. Kensington, MD 20895
Contact: 303-883-4364; jciner@spirit-club.com
Website: http://spirit-club.com

The mission of SPIRIT Club is to offer a universal design for fitness that empowers people of all abilities to exercise successfully in a socially integrated setting. SPIRIT Club provides supportive and accommodating fitness programs that aim to increase the health & wellness of people of ALL abilities, including people with physical, developmental & psychological differences. S.P.I.R.I.T. is an acronym that represents the philosophy of ensuring programs are Social, Physical, Interactive, Respectful, Integrated and include Teamwork. SPIRIT Club strives to employ people with different abilities to lead & assist classes, and help maintain its administration and facility.

Sports Plus

Location: During the COVID pandemic, Sports Plus activities are being offered virtually.  We will return to in-person programming when it is safe to do so. At that time our location information will once again be as follows:  Varies depending on activity and availability of venue; current locations are:

Quince Orchard Swim and Tennis Club, 16601 Roundabout Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Bender JCC of Greater Washington, 6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD 20852
Seven Locks Elementary School, 9500 Seven Locks Road, Bethesda, MD 20817

Contact: 301-452-3781; info@playsportsplus.org
Website: http://www.playsportsplus.org

Sports Plus is an award winning 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides innovative sports, swim, camp, and social programs to children, teens, and young adults, ages 5-25, with autism and other developmental disabilities. SPORTS PLUS programs are specifically designed to provide sports, recreation, and social opportunities to fill a void for participants and their families that were previously unable to meaningfully participate and enjoy soccer, track and field, instructional swim and other sports-related activities.

Our new virtual programs are highly interactive and have been created to reach beyond the screen to engage all participants. We currently offer a half day combined Exercise and Social Experience, After School Exercise, Teen and Young Adult Socials, Yoga, and Dance. Additional programs are also being developed. 

Washington Ice Dogs

Location: Garden Ice House, 13800 Old Gunpowder Rd., Laurel, MD 20707
Contact: washingtonicedogs@gmail.com
Website: http://washingtonicedogs.org

The goal of Special Hockey Washington is to give people with physical and Developmental Disabilities the chance to play the sport of Ice Hockey in an environment that is adapted to the level of ability at which the athletes are able to participate. Special Hockey Washington exists for the enrichment of the athlete with a developmental disability. In addition to physical hockey skills, the program emphasizes the development of desirable individual characteristics such as dependability, self-reliance, concentration, willingness to share and personal accountability. The game of hockey is used by Special Hockey Washington to develop within each player the characteristics that will help the player to be more successful both inside and outside a hockey environment.


Location: Varies; see website for details
Contact: 202-469-2533; zamdancers@gmail.com
Website: http://zamdance.com/

ZamDance is a high impact dance fitness program for children and adults with developmental differences. The program introduces a structured environment while allowing the students to move at their own pace. The classes also keep the students happily engaged while learning different dance steps such as merengue, jazz, and hip-hop.

We Rock the Spectrum Indoor Gym

Location: 7601 Airpark Rd Suite E, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Contact: (301) 355-8486; info@werockthespectrumgaithersburg.com

Website: https://www.werockthespectrumgaithersburg.com

We Rock the Spectrum (WRTS) is committed to providing a safe, nurturing, and fun environment to foster learning, exploration and safe sensory experiences. Through our nonprofit My Brother Rocks The Spectrum Foundation, we provide social skills groups and activities for children across the spectrum.

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