Making A Difference For Young Adults With Autism

This story, written by Abbie Richert, was originally published in Plateau Living (April 2017) with a similar article in Madison Park Living (April 2017). You can find local copies in Sammamish or Madison Valley (Seattle). It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

For young adults with autism, visibility and acceptance in the community are cornerstones of their personal and professional growth. Yet, there’s an overall lack of resources to support these young adults as they navigate life after high school. That’s where Delphi Young Adults comes in—a program that offers critical support during this transition period.

A local non-profit called Ryther, which provides psychiatric and behavioral health services for children and their families facing complex challenges started Delphi Young Adults. Ben Wahl, Program Director of Ryther’s Aspiring Youth Program said for autistic young adults, “The 18-24 age range is so important because it’s kind of that point at which they can go either way: they can get stuck and isolated, or become a part of the community.”

“We are really seeking to have community for young adults,” Ben said. “When they are school aged kids and around their peers, it’s about building skills. They didn’t always thrive socially at school, but at least they had that opportunity. But when they hit 18 they don’t.” They lose a built-in community, which is why Delphi Young Adults is desperately needed.

This year, Ryther will officially launch Delphi Young Adults. Parts of the program such as the Delphi Social Club, Workspace (group work projects) and a seminar project called Life 101 are already in the works. Whereas, a project called The Commons (residential living) should fall into place in the near future.

The program’s backbone is built on the Delphi Social Club, which seeks to build community through planned social outlets. Ben said the Delphi Social Club is “A place to come together over shared interests.” The groups do anything from bowling to karaoke to indoor rock climbing. A secondary focus of the social program is identity building. “We like the term neuro-diverse,” Ben said. It’s a little broader and not, ‘hey, I’m going to this bowling thing because I’ve been diagnosed with autism,’ it’s just, ‘I’m quirky.’” Ben added that, “The Delphi Social Club has it’s own website.” Equipped with have interactive online circles, social club goers can contribute stories, video game reviews and more, and communicate about events taking place in the community. “It’s a way for them to connect, and it’s way better than Facebook.”

Ben also said a number of young adults want to get involved on a deeper level. Rather than simply attending an event, they want to be a part of building and running it, which is why Workspace was created. Workspace is “A weekly group; they work on different projects and ideas, and right now they are working on the Delphi Social Club website.”

The coaching aspect of Delphi focuses on helping the young person navigate community college. “It’s a little bit like therapy, but coaching is a little more concrete,” Ben said. “We are not taking a psychological approach, but more of, ‘Are we are keeping track of community college assignments?’ ‘Are we budgeting?’ ‘Are we building independent living skills?’ That’s really important because a lot of my folks are employable and smart and very loyal and trustworthy.” Coaching goes hand and hand with Delphi’s Life 101 project. Ben said Life 101 is all about ‘adulting.’ They hold seminars focused on money management, cooking, dating, jobs, health and wellness.

At Delphi, overall wellness, independent living skills and social skills are competencies seen as important as being employable. “One of our outputs involves independence, Ben said. “If that involves a job, then by all means, but maybe it’s a slower progression. But it’s important that we continue to provide community.”

Delphi also plans to provide support through a program called The Commons, which Ben said is “A supportive dorm type situation, sort of a co-op.” Delphi is looking toward the model of micro-housing and is currently in talks with Neiman Taber Architects to obtain four units in their micro-housing buildings for young adults with autism. Although it’s a huge aspiration, they are hoping it will come together within the year.

Delphi brings the topic of community inclusion to the table. “We are really learning how to reach out to them and make them visible,” Ben said. “Working with young adults is really interesting. With young adults it becomes a broader initiative; between 18-24 if they’re involved in the community, if they’re gaining skills they’re going to integrate and will go on this path of being part of the community.”

Ben has worked with many young adults across the Plateau and encourages the community to continually stay involved. This summer, in partnership with R.E.I., he plans to lead trail building and restoration groups in Fall City, which is a great and nearby opportunity for Sammamish residents.

 For more information on Delphi Young Adults visit or call 206.517.0241.

Winter break camps: Fun. Social skills. Field trips. Hot chocolate.

ddAn ongoing tradition, winter break camp is a fun opportunity to connect with friends while pursuing games, activities and excursions. Our master’s level counselors make sure that winter break is a place for students to recharge while building social skills and confidence.

Mornings: Students select from their favorite activities:

  • Outdoor games and the Challenge Course

  • Board games, Magic the Gathering or D&D

  • Legos and K’nex

  • Comedy Improv, Art and Movement

bowlingAfternoon field trips to the movies, Kenmore bowling lanes and the Seattle Pinball Museum – for no additional fee! (Field trips are optional if child prefers not to go)

Sign up now on our website!

Ages: Explorers (ages 8-10), Navigators (ages 10-12), Teen Crew (ages 13-15) and Delphi (ages 15-19). Siblings are welcome!

Location: Ryther @ 2400 NE 95th St, Seattle, WA 98115

Dates: December 19, 20, 21 and December 28, 29, 30

Time: 9:30am to 3:30pm each day

 Fee: $100 per day with a two-day minimum enrollment

105-Aspiring-Candids-Web (1)Snacks will be provided. Students bring lunch from home. Personal electronic gaming devices are not appropriate.

Participants: We welcome students ages 8 and up who benefit from a small group environment. Some are shy, some are quirky, and some are twice exceptional. Some of our campers have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, learning disabilities or similar traits.

School year programs now enrolling

105-Aspiring-Candids-Web (1)Enrollment opens for social skills groups

UPDATED: Enroll now through our website in Aspiring Youth’s Social Skills Groups!

Beginning in early October, our master’s level facilitators help participants identify and practice new skills, establish friendships and boost self-esteem.


New to Aspiring Youth social skills groups? Schedule your enrollment meeting.

  • AGE-BASED GROUPS: Topic-driven discussion ● Reinforcing games and activities ● Groups available for ages 8 to 19.

  • THEME-BASED GROUPS: Social skills curriculum through shared interest activities such as art, Dungeons & Dragons, rock climbing and more!

142-Aspiring-Candids-WebStart off strong this school year

In your home setting, individual coaching improves executive functioning, social skills, communication, conflict resolution, self-moderation of screen time and other similar areas.

Offered throughout the school year, we collaborate with therapists and psychologists to reinforce office sessions. 

Contact us to schedule a free initial assessment.


Aspiring Youth provides innovative social skills groups, summer camps, tutoring and other services for students ages 8 and up in Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Bainbridge Island, Kirkland and the surrounding areas.

Some of our students are shy, some are quirky and some are twice exceptional. Many have a diagnosis of Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, learning disabilities or other similar traits.

Why Aspiring Youth Might be the Perfect Camp for Your Child

Picture 047_resultNow that school is out, it’s time to think about getting your kids involved in summer programs. With options like sports camps, tutoring sessions and wilderness clubs (not to mention good old fashioned unstructured boredom) it can be hard to decide which camp might be best for your child. Maybe you want your child to try something new, but aren’t sure he or she would be interested. Maybe you’re concerned about your child’s behavior if they’ve struggled at a camp or in school in the past.  Aspiring Youth summer camps might be the perfect for your child.

Aspiring Youth offers a variety of camps based on interest, as well as a general age-based camp (the most popular program). This camp is great for kids who are typically functioning but have some difficulty making friends, or those who have diagnoses of Asperger’s, autism, ADHD and other varying ability levels.

There are a few key components of Aspiring Youth camp that make it unique:

  • Small group ratios with masters-level facilitators. The camper to facilitator ratio is 4:1, which is almost unheard of for a summer camp. This allows for activities in small group settings and consistent feedback and facilitation of social interactions. Lead facilitators have masters degrees in fields such as social work, mental health counseling, special education, applied behavior analysis, and speech language pathology. Their knowledge and skills provides meaningful integration of social skills in all activities.

  • friendship-1081843_1280Outdoor-based activities. Many of the kids we work with prefer to stay indoors playing video games and spend little time exploring the outdoors. Our camp is outdoor-based. We meet up at various parks in the greater Seattle area for games, hikes, and unique experiences with nature. Twice a week, campers engage in trail renovation projects. This gives kids a greater appreciation for the parks they visit and instills a sense of pride in accomplishing something important. It also provides an opportunity for working together in groups on a skill most have not done before. Campers stay motivated to engage in trail restoration by the $15 stipend earned at the end of the week.

  • Goal setting around friendship. One thing we like to make clear to our campers is that everyone at camp is working on friendship or communication goals. At the beginning of each week, campers do small-group goal setting: a strength goal to demonstrate one of his or her strengths and a stretch goal to work on something he or she struggles with. Facilitators remind campers about their goals and provide opportunities for them to work on their goals throughout the week. At the end of the week, campers and their facilitators reflect.

  • Options in activities. As most understand, kids need to be able to make choices about their activity if we expect them to be engaged. They like to feel empowered. At camp, we always have options for kids. Some involve structured activities and others less structured. Regardless of the option each child chooses, there is always a facilitator providing feedback and assistance.

With six weeks left of summer, there’s plenty of time to get your child involved in Aspiring Youth camp.  There are several sites in the greater Seattle area. Please visit our website for more information and to schedule an enrollment meeting for your child.

Breea. M. Rosas, Ed.S.

Breea graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2013. Her undergraduate major was Psychology, with a minor in Family Studies. She completed her Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from CWU in 2016. She is currently a school psychologist for Federal Way Public Schools. Breea has worked with Aspiring Youth as a program coordinator/facilitator for summer camps and served on the curriculum development team. Additionally, Breea has experience working with adults of varying abilities, including autism spectrum disorder, as well youth in the school setting.

Announcing: Bainbridge Island Summer Camps!

New location on Bainbridge Island at Strawberry Hill Park!

In our traditional camps we offer exciting activity choices from Legos to art to nature hikes. With these incredible enrichment activities as a foundation, our master’s level counselors help campers build confidence and connect to new friends.

Social Growth Topics

We work with parents and campers to formulate individualized social learning goals such as: Conversation initiation, flexibility, leadership, sharing ideas, sustaining conversations, self-identity, teamwork, independence skills, long-term goal setting, assertive communication, emotional regulation, personal wellness, and more.

Picture 047_result

Enroll now

Cost: $500 per week

Time: Camp runs Monday – Thursday, 9:30am – 3:30pm

Bainbridge Island Camp Dates:

  • Week of 7/18

  • Week of 7/25

  • Week of 8/1

Age groups: 

  • Navigators (ages 10-12)

  • Teen Crew (ages 13-15)

  • Delphi (ages 15-19)

We engage in outdoor games, field trips and other group activities to propel social growth. Through weekly habitat restoration projects, campers build confidence and teamwork while earning a $15 weekly internship stipend. Campers choose from additional activities such as indoor rock climbing, Parkour, therapy dogs, swimming, Museum of Flight, guided nature tours, comedy improv games, art, and many more.

Enroll now

Our Campers

We welcome campers ages 8 and up who benefit from a small group environment. Some are shy, some are quirky, and some are twice exceptional. Some of our campers have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, learning disabilities, or other similar traits.

About Aspiring Youth

  • Nationally accredited, innovative program serving families since 2004

  • Dynamic master’s level professionals with a 4:1 camper ratio

  • Social skills growth through small group check-ins

  • Sustainable friendships through year-round social skills groups and alumni events

  • Free enrollment meeting with clinical coordinators to ensure group fit and identify goals

  • Connect through weekly parent groups and receive updates on your child’s progress