Therapeutic Recreation

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A person with autism can engage in Therapeutic Recreation with the assistance of a Recreation Therapist. Recreation Therapists focus on an individual’s strengths and abilities to increase or maintain their skills, abilities, sense of independence, and quality of life. Recreation Therapists conduct assessments and, based on the findings, develop goals using recreation activities to teach necessary skills that are required in order for someone with autism to function as independently as possible in society, given their specific strengths and weaknesses. Therapeutic Recreation is offered in a variety of settings, including, but not limited to: hospitals, child development centres, specialized camps, community-based programs, and one-on-one private therapy.

Recreation Therapists can help individuals with autism and their families in a variety of areas:

  • Functional Abilities: reading, giving and receiving information, or learning how to use money
  • Self-care Skills: proper grooming habits, manners, reducing self-injurious behaviours
  • Interpersonal Skills: active listening, proper tone of voice and leadership skills
  • Social Skills: body language and pragmatics
  • Specific Leisure Skills: learning specific rules and skills needed for participation in certain games or activities
  • Leisure Education: finding leisure-specific resources in the community for the individual and his/her family
  • Community Integration Skills: learning how to use public transport, or how to sign up for activities at recreation centres
  • Physical Fitness: increasing activity levels to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Creative Expression: expressing oneself in a variety of ways and settings

Therapeutic Recreation interventions for Autism may include:


Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association

British Columbia Therapeutic Recreation Association

Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association

Saskatchewan Association of Recreation Professionals

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario

Quebec Association of Activity Professionals (QAAP) / Association Québecoise des professionels en loisirs (AQPL)

Therapeutic Recreation Association of Atlantic Canada

Nova Scotia Recreation Professionals in Health

Newfoundland and Labrador Therapeutic Recreation Association


Autism Canada does not endorse treatments, interventions and therapies but lists them so people can make informed choice.  This site is for information purposes only and is a starting point for readers to look into options that may fit or resonate.  Remember, therapies for autism, like any condition, should be discussed with a trusted medical practitioner or certified therapist before use.

All information, data and material contained, presented or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of Autism Canada, or as providing legal or medical advice. All treatment decisions should be made by the individual in consultation with a licensed health care provider.

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