Project Description

BOOST! After School Programs teach socialization and communication skills to children and teens on the autism spectrum through recreation and social interaction. Participants learn to develop friendships with each other and with typically developing peers in structured play and discussion sessions that are supervised by trained coaches.

Created by NEXT for AUTISM with the JCC Manhattan, BOOST! grew out of SibFun, a sibling program initiated by NEXT for AUTISM co-founder Ilene Lainer. NEXT for AUTISM then developed BOOST! at the JCCs in Manhattan and Long Island, modeling it after Have Dreams, an after school program in Chicago.

Thanks to NEXT for AUTISM and BOOST!, we are now experts in autism at the JCC. BOOST! put us on the autism map. The entire community is open, more inclusive, more aware.

Allison Kleinman, Director, Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, JCC Manhattan

Program Innovations

  • BOOST! was founded on NEXT for AUTISM’s commitment to integrate people with autism into their communities and promote positive interactions
  • BOOST! addresses the social challenges experienced by people autism, teaching them to connect with each other, and encouraging mutual learning with typically developing peers
  • BOOST! integrates families living with autism into community centers and builds capacity within those centers to serve people with autism and other developmental disabilities

Program Impact

  • BOOST! fills a gap in socialization programs that are organized around recreation and mutual learning with typically developing communities
  • NEXT for AUTISM helped develop an evidence-based curriculum for BOOST! with our partners
  • BOOST! and NEXT for AUTISM enabled training for the JCC staff, forming a rich knowledge base about autism at the JCCs and changing the culture with regard to people with developmental disabilities

Reported that their kids showed greater comfort with other children after BOOST!


Who are typically developing said that after BOOST!, they view people with ASD as important members of their community