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Adventure Therapy: Creating Self-efficacy in Individuals Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Vantage Point by Aspiro is built on the foundational idea that facing and overcoming challenges creates positive changes in self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to the belief that one can overcome challenges and create desired outcomes. We accomplish this by immersing our students that are challenged with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder (among other diagnoses) in new adventures. They participate in fun, challenging, and rewarding activities that empower them to accomplish more than they thought possible. Vantage Point by Aspiro students engage in activities that challenge them and take them out of their comfort zone. Research indicates that exposure to novel environments increases the likelihood of more generalized ability. Meaning, learned skill sets in the Vantage Point program will transfer more effectively into the different domains of life. Increased self-efficacy, emotional regulation skills, executive function skills, and social skills are the result. Vantage Point by Aspiro: Overwhelming Mastery through Adventure Therapy Our therapeutic interventions for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder are based on first developing a relationship of trust and respect, combined with appropriate boundaries and high expectations. Once this foundation of trust and respect is established, we can begin to truly understand your child and his or her individual strengths and needs. The crucial mechanism of change at Vantage Point is the creation of “Overwhelming Mastery” experiences. “Overwhelming” refers to the idea that the student experiences success and positive feedback in ways that are dramatic and that cannot be subconsciously discounted. While learning a specific outdoor adventure therapy skill, we give specific, positive feedback about something they are doing right. Unlike generic praise, the positive reinforcement created by this method of feedback is very concrete and difficult to dismiss. We focus on imparting a number of positive, fundamental skills and tools to our students:
  • Self-awareness
  • Proactivity
  • Perseverance
  • Goal Setting
  • Support Systems
  • Emotional Coping
As each student faces challenging tasks, finds success, and experiences a feeling of Mastery, our guides become a trusted source of wisdom and growth. Vantage Point by Aspiro adventure therapy guides then begin to tie current experiences to past difficulties with an emphasis on solutions. We begin to turn our students back to family, parents, support systems and other positive sources of wisdom. Ongoing Clinical Evaluation Introducing our students to new challenges that they eventually master not only enhances self-efficacy; it also provides our clinical staff with a rare opportunity to observe each teen’s behavior in a variety of circumstances. This informs clinical strategy as we develop and refine each student’s individual treatment plan. Finally, as students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder gain autonomy and self-efficacy, they integrate their learnings in with their pre-existing support systems. In this way, the transition home from the wilderness is eased, and the student is able to continue drawing on what they learned about themselves while they were enrolled in our program.