SMILE Boxes brighten the lives of MAIER families

Collage photo of young boy enjoying hot chocolate and building a marshmallow snowman
One of our MAIER friends enjoying the snowman activity included in the December SMILE Box

This fall the Maine Autism Institute’s Family Partnership partnered with the Adaptive Outdoor Education Center (AOEC) to bring more than 75 SMILE Boxes to Maine children and teens on the autism spectrum. SMILE Boxes are designed to support families that include a member on the autism spectrum in exploring new ways to connect with one another through prompts and guided activities. Participating families received a monthly SMILE box filled with fun activities and engaging videos to promote physical activity, social skills, and sensory exploration.

MAIER contributed to the project by providing consultation to the AOEC, sensory supports to include in each box, and MAIER information and print resources such as “Holiday Tips and Sensory Activities for Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum. ” MAIER was also able to provide support for a number of family scholarships.

Several participating families wrote us to share the excitement their child experienced when opening their SMILE Boxes and exploring the contents. One parent told us how much she appreciated the picture symbol cards included in a SMILE Box, while another told us the mailing provided her family with some much needed fun and a respite from the day-to-day stressors of this year. Check out the smile on the face of one of our MAIER friends while he explored December’s Marshmallow Snowman activity (right).

Altogether, the SMILE Box project was a success this fall, and we hope to continue this project and our collaboration with our community partners at the AOEC into 2021. We will share more information about future SMILE box opportunities as it becomes available. For more information, check the AOEC website.