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Free workshop for autistic children, parents and professionals set in Lowville


LOWVILLE — A Rochester area group that organizes outings at Beaver Camp for autistic children and their families will be offering a free workshop here next week for children, parents and professionals.

“Our mission is to help parents get out in the community,” said Jennifer L. Hackett, president of Camp Puzzle Peace Inc.

The workshop, titled “A Hands-On and Practical Approach for Promoting Positive Behavior for Children With Autism and/or Related Disabilities,” will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Sept. 13 at Double Play Sports Community Center, in the former St. Peter’s Catholic School at 5457 Shady Ave.

The focus will be on finding what the child is trying to communicate by using behavior, helping parents and professionals to break behavior down into parts that can be tangible to start making changes.

“We use a strength-based approach that focuses on the child’s strengths,” a flyer for the program says.

While the session for parents and professionals is being held, a sensory fun camp will be held for autistic children and their siblings ages 4 to 16.

“Children will enjoy a variety of different textures by visiting different sensory stations,” the flyer states. “Be prepared for your child(ren) to have loads of fun while most likely getting a bit messy!”

Although the session is free, those interested in attending are asked to register at for planning purposes.

For the past two summers, the nonprofit organization has held weeklong outings at Beaver Camp off Buck Pond Road in the town of Watson.

“It’s really just a great atmosphere,” said Mrs. Hackett, a special education teacher in the Webster School District who owns a camp on Number Four Road in the town of Watson.

The idea for the camp experience stemmed from a campfire conversation a few years ago with an occupational therapist friend about ways to provide traditional family experiences for families dealing with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays, she said.

“It’s so isolating to some families,” Mrs. Hackett said.

That led to the formation of Camp Puzzle Peace, which now also offers plenty of sessions in the Rochester area, including water safety and swimming, horseback riding, music and art groups for social skills, planetarium shows, a running club and a sibling empowerment group.

“Our staff are educational and community professionals who have extensive experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum and other developmental delays, particularly those with significant communication and behavioral difficulties,” the organization’s website says.

While Camp Puzzle Peace for the first two years has offered single Beaver Camp outings shortly after the end of the school year, plans to are expand it to two weeklong sessions next year to meet an increasing demand.

Sessions for summer 2015 will be from June 27 to 30 and from June 30 to July 3. Tentative pricing for the one-week excursions — including lodging, meals and snacks, activities and special behavioral tools such as social stories and picture schedules — will be $275 for adults and $175 for children 14 and younger.

Some scholarships are available for children, and families may be able to use Medicaid family reimbursements if a justification is provided by the service coordinator, Mrs. Hackett said.

The group also is interested in expanding its presence in Northern New York, and online donations may be specified for that by putting “north country” in the notations section.

For more information, visit

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