(FOX 13) - Opening up the world to children with autism is the goal at a Bay Area summer camp, started by a mom who experienced the struggle first-hand.
Now, having some sensory-friendly summer funs is Deena Rivera’s passion.
"There aren't very many opportunities out there for them, where they can feel completely normal, and what I try to do with my program is create every experience that a normal kid has," Rivera said.
She said she felt lost after learning her 17-year-old son has autism. So Rivera sought to create a safe space for families and children with the same kinds of disorders.
From that, Warriors For Autism was born. It’s a sensory-friendly summer camp and has been going strong for the last six years.
"They're not only getting the sensory environment, but they're getting social settings," Rivera added. "They're working as a group. They're doing things together as a team, which is a very new concept to some of them."
Warriors for Autism strives to help children with autism sharpen their sensory skills through interaction with animals.
"They really bond with the animals and then learn how to take the bond that they form with the animals and use it to actually work with other people," Rivera said.
The children care for animals, go swimming and ride horses to help their social development.
"You know how babies put things in their mouth to get a feel for it? They kind of have to see it, feel it, touch it, thoroughly immerse themselves in it before they can get it," she explained.
Deena Rivera and her husband are opening up Warrior Fitness and Sensory Center later this month, as well.