In 2016, after many years of searching for additional services for their grandson with autism, Kim and Kenny Nelson’s dream to to start an autism program in Perham became a reality.
As one of the only non-profit autism organizations located between Moorhead and Minneapolis, Empowering Kids is unique in offering high quality and affordable programming designed specifically for children with autism or social challenges.

Empowering Kids utilizes evidenced-based practices and research-based curriculum. Our services are led by professionals in the field of special education with an emphasis in autism, and have the education and professional experience to understand the specific skills that need to be taught to help individuals have the confidence to interact with others; a life skill that is critical to being successfully employed and live independently.

We also want to ensure that cost is not a barrier for families and caregivers who are seeking support. We provide scholarships to help families in need.

Our founders, staff, and board members are dedicated to achieving our vision: to provide a life of hope. happiness, dignity, and purpose for individuals with autism or social challenges!

Our Mission

To empower children, families, and the community by providing support and resources to those with autism or social challenges.

OUR Programs

We offer a variety of services for individuals, families, and the community. 

INTRODUCING PowerUp Summer Club

Our Power Up Summer Club is a fun and engaging summer program to teach social emotional and relationship skills. The program is designed for individuals with autism or other social challenges with a special emphasis on inclusion with neurotypical peers. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and engage in lessons and then apply their knowledge in group outings in the community.


We are a network of community dreamers dedicated to providing a special place for children with autism and their families. 


Our professional team brings passion for serving children and their families with autism or social-cognitive challenges. Their knowledge of research based practices combined with compassion for children is what makes this team unique and helpful to families.

Our Governing Board

Empowering Kids Perham is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Our board is made up of a diverse group of individuals who share a common interest: ensuring that children with autism in our community have all the tools and support necessary to be successful throughout their lives! 


Every individual with autism or other social cognitive challenges has unique needs and learning abilities. We utilize a number of learning strategies to help students with differing abilities learn how to solve problems, regulate their emotions, and feel comfortable in social situations. Here are the curriculums that we use: 

Zones of Regulation

Students learn emotional labels, calming strategies, and a toolbox of strategies to help them regulate their emotions from excited and silly to crabby and mad.

Social Thinking*

Students start by learning about their own thoughts and feelings, and how they are connected and even change throughout their daily activities. Then students learn about how the thoughts and feelings of others are different than their own. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions affect how others think and feel around us, so we help students develop strategies to better understand, interpret, and respond to social situations.

Second Step

Students develop skills in 3 core areas of social emotional learning, including Empathy, Emotion Management, and Problem Solving. Students learn specific step-by-step ways and strategies teaching them how to share, how to manage strong feelings, how to join others in playing, and solve problems.
*All early intervention and social skills classes use the Social Thinking® methodology or framework developed by Michelle Garcia Winner (concepts, strategies, curriculum and vocabulary), www.socialthinking.com. This program, including its teacher or leader, is not affiliated with, nor has it been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by Michelle Garcia Winner and Think Social Publishing, Inc.


Giving to your community serves all. We appreciate the continued financial support of individuals, organizations, and businesses that enable us to provide services to children with autism and other special needs in our community. Join them in giving here!