Cindy Ziobrowski, Executive Director CARDNE

Below is information from Cindy Ziobrowski MS Ed., Executive Director CARDNE. The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities New England (CARDNE) is a worthwhile program that anyone who has a child or friend with autism or a related disability should look into. And the camp that is described, along with their new work experience program, is high on my list of recommendations. Please read on:

The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities New England provides community-based programs for families, professionals and peers of people with autism and related disabilities. CARD NE was founded in 2003 and is based after successful CARD models in Florida and New York.

Camp CARD NE offers experiences uniquely designed for children with autism spectrum disorder. Camp CARD NE is open to all children from all walks of life; to learn from each other and gain an understanding of their relationship to their community and begin to see possibilities for the future are endless. The unique locales offered by the camp are the perfect settings for children to explore their environment safely, and to build a relationship to nature and their community. Additionally, it is a way to introduce and teach the community about autism awareness in a personal way. The skilled counselors lead the campers through the awkward, sometimes uncomfortable, transition moments with expertise and proficiency. This allows the community staff at selected locales to feel at ease working with the campers and understanding the individual qualities of each camper.

Camp Card NE

Staff and campers of Camp Card New England!

Camp CARD NE will be entering our 8th summer! The regular camp program that provides social skill development has been well established. Today, I want to introduce you to the new program, our work experience.

There is a need for work experience training programs to supplement support for children ages 15-21 years old during the summer months. Typical peers are beginning to explore various jobs, adding to their growing maturity and ability level, but teens on the autism spectrum do not have the same opportunities for exploration. The amount of supervision, coaching and structure necessary to provide children with autism these opportunities is not adequately addressed in the community.

 Families are interested in finding a resource that can offer similar work experience for their teen with autism that is appropriate and supervised. Teens with autism are aware that their peers are entering the working world and much desire to do the same. Without the necessary programming, there is nowhere to turn.

 In 2012 Camp CARD NE facilitated a survey process and created a pilot program to test out a work experience model. Since their peers got paid for their summer jobs, this was a top priority during the our discussions and planning sessions. So it was agreed that each camper would receive a $10 stipend for each day of work. Teens complete a job application form, track their days with a time card and receive their pay weekly.

We receive referrals from teachers, parents, community members and return campers! The criteria to participate are the ability to work within a group of 2-3 other campers with supervision by one trained adult counselor. The trained camp counselor is in charge of the quality of the program. The campers have specific job duties and responsibility lists created for each individual work opportunity. The camp counselors track and evaluate the camper’s performance, giving immediate support daily and formal one to one feedback on a weekly basis. We saw huge growth in the camper’s skills – they began to anticipate the routine and became more independent as the summer went on. The campers’ attitudes were sound – they learned to put forth a good effort and have a positive attitude making everything, from working with others to finishing a hard job, better!

The work experience program offers many critical skills not taught in school, but essential to success in the workplace. The campers learn the importance of arriving to work on time, wearing appropriate clothing, and having good hygiene. Lunch was packed (and remembered!). Emphasis on how to make small talk during break times and returning to work on time from a break is taught. The importance of receiving and accepting feedback and asking questions to clarify the job expectations are keys to success. We found NO ABSENCES from this group! They looked forward to ‘going to work’ and gained confidence and self -esteem for a job well done.

Other long term benefits were noted. Since the campers receive feedback on the job, they become more receptive to accepting feedback. The campers may find a passion or interest in one of the work experiences they complete that will guide their choice for future jobs. The campers begin to learn the value of making money and the responsibility that goes along with that. The quality of the campers life improves by the success they have in this type of structured, supervised program. They begin to see that they can be contributing members in the community and feel good about it.

Camp CARD NE is a local non-profit summer program that uniquely offers the work experience training for teens with autism, Asperger’s and social skill deficits. Camp CARD NE begins June 30, 2014, Mondays thru Thursdays, from 9-2. A total of 5 weeks are available, with families choosing one or more weeks according to their schedules. Camp CARD NE is located in York, Maine and Farmington, NH. Our camps fill up quickly, so don’t hesitate to call. There are limited partial scholarships available.

Check out our website at

Doesn’t that sound great? If you would like registration details, call me at 603.953.5025 or email me at



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