MAAP Newsletter: CIP Students Have a Blast in Costa Rica
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MAAP Newsletter: CIP Students Have a Blast in Costa Rica

The following is a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

Published in the May, 2014 issue of The MAAP, and list our website,


Article by Jim Walsh, Head Student Advisor, CIP Bloomington

Each winter, The College Internship Program (CIP) offers an exciting mid-year trip for students that not only gives them a fun break from their classes and jobs, but also broadens their understanding of the world.

In January, 24 students representing all six CIP programs took part in a memorable adventure to Leaves and Lizards resort in Costa Rica. Susan Moreno, CIP Advisory Board member and Founder of MAAP recommended Leaves and Lizards after conducting a training session with the staff there on how to work with young adults with Asperger’s and other Learning Differences.
Leaves and Lizards hosts a unique program for individuals on the autism spectrum that includes exploring the surrounding jungle, volunteering at an animal rescue mission, white water rafting, tours of the volcano national park, and an equine therapy program.

“I connected with my horse,” said third-year CIP student Eugene from Bloomington, IN. “I felt like he was a best friend. He had the same personality that I have. I rode the horse in the jungle, up to waterfalls, and into a village,” he continued.
The resort consists of nine cabins, each of which overlooks the Arenal volcano, and it’s a 30-minute drive to the moon-like terrain of hardened lava flow below the still smoking crater.

“We went hiking and saw sloths, toucans, and spider monkeys,” said Joe, a second-year CIP student. “We even got to feed some of the animals at an animal rescue. White water rafting was incredible – more intense than any rafting I’ve done before, but our instructor gave us great safety tips, so I was never scared.”

Traveling internationally can be a challenge to even the most seasoned adventurers: Where to stay, what to do, and when to do it? Leaves and Lizards saved the group from trip-planning and logistical headaches and gave our students memories that will last them a lifetime. The adventure was coordinated and led by three CIP Life Skills coordinators.

CIP offers a variety of comprehensive support programs for teens and young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences. To learn more, visit

MAAP Editor’s Note:
If you are not part of CIP and are interested on going to Costa Rica’s Leaves and Lizards, contact Susan Moreno: