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Calls to Action

New England Chapter of Autism Speaks to Donate iPads for the Holidays

BOSTON, MA, (December 17, 2013) – This week Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, distributed sixteen iPads to organizations serving the needs of adults on the autism spectrum in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts. Thanks to a generous donation from the Celegene Corporation, the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks distributed total of 19 iPads to organizations dedicated to autistic adults.

“With these donated iPads, we are supporting important service providers who are on the frontlines of addressing the underserved adult segment in our autism communities throughout New England,” said Russ Kenn, executive director of the New England Chapter. “In this holiday season of giving, it is also a tangible way to support adults on the spectrum, and allows our chapter to showcase the gifts inside people with autism, helping them reach their full potential.”

The goal at Autism Speaks is to provide individuals with autism and their families with all the tools they need throughout the lifespan. Adults living with autism often have difficulty finding information about programs and supports that would allow them to live as independently as possible. Therefore, Autism Speaks’ Adult Services initiatives focus on resources that impact all facets of adult life including employment, housing, community life and post-secondary education.

“The use of iPads makes a remarkable difference in the communication and social behavioral skills of the individuals we serve. This technology is yet another step towards bridging the gap from school and family to the world of adult services,” said Glenn Loomis, Director of Life Skills at Cape Abilities (MA).

With the diversity in needs and programming for autistic adults, these donated iPads will serve a variety of uses. The receiving organizations have reported that they will use them to enhance communication, support job training, and provide virtual support, among other uses.

“We are looking to grow our program in order to better support a very under-served population,” executive director of Port Resources (ME), Karen MacDonald said. “One way we can expand our support options is through a remote/virtual support program, using these iPads.”

The first three organizations to benefit were the Cardinal Cushing Centers, CLASS and Aspiritech, each of whom participated in the recent Autism Speaks Small Business Town Hall Boston event, which focused on employment opportunities for adults with autism.

In addition to the iPads, Autism Speaks recently announced the recipients of New England Chapter grants totaling $25,000. For more information about the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks, please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org or contact Kelley Borer-Miller, Senior Director, Field Development at Boston 617-726-1515, greaterboston@autismspeaks.org.

CONNECTICUT RECIPIENTS

The Light House
The Light House is a 21 year old nonprofit agency whose mission is to educate and prepare for life children and adults with disabilities. The agency consists of two state approved special education schools for ages 7-21 located in Niantic CT, two transition academies for 18-21 year old males on the autism spectrum, located in Niantic and Norwich. The latter one is for students attending Three Rivers College. A site for adults over 21 with developmental disabilities is located in Groton along with an art gallery and digital media center. The Light House also provides an annual Autism Education Conference. This year speakers Barbara Boroson and Dr. Nancy O’Hara will be presenting on March 31, 2014. For more information go to http://www.lhcampus.com

Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center
Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center's mission is to provide services and resources on an individualized basis to assist adults with disabilities to live an independent and successful life. Vista is a nationally known community-based educational program for adults with neurological disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, brain injury, a learning disability, or epilepsy. Most individuals have completed their high school academic credits, yet they require a residential education program to transition to adulthood. All of Vista's educational and support services are designed to enable the 190+ adults served to succeed in work and to live as independently as possible in the community.

MAINE RECIPIENT

Port Resources
Port Resources is a non-profit human services organization founded in the Portland, Maine area in 1979. Port’s mission is to empower individual with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges to live meaningful and fulfilled lives in their communities, they do this through a full spectrum of services; residential, outreach, outpatient and professional development services. Port Resources employs 300 staff and supports more than five hundred individuals.

One unique program that Port Resources supports is AIM, Achieving Independence in Maine. This program supports young adults on the autism spectrum (18-25 years old) who are “launching” into adulthood after high school or post-secondary education and who could benefit from a structured community-integration program.

MASSACHUSETTS RECIPIENTS

BFAIR
Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, BFAIR, is a not-for-profit human service agency providing an array of intensive supports for adults and children with developmental disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injuries throughout Berkshire County. Since incorporation in 1994, BFAIR has been a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities by specializing in tailoring supports to meet people’s needs and to promote independence through employment, education, and community involvement. http://www.bfair.org

CapeAbilities
The mission of Cape Abilities is to serve individuals with disabilities on Cape Cod by educating, counseling and providing residential, therapeutic, social, and employment supports that empower them to achieve meaningful and valued roles in the community.

Founded in 1968 as Nauset Workshop, Cape Abilities now serves people with disabilities from Bourne to Provincetown. The organization has been headed since 1990 by Executive Director Larry Thayer. Over the years it has expanded to include entrepreneurial businesses that provide employment for its members. The organization is guided by a board of directors who hail from across Cape Cod and beyond. Cape Abilities is part of the Cape Cod community, involving program participants in volunteer opportunities and events, and welcoming community and business partnerships.

Kennedy Donovan Center – Cape Cod & the Islands
Kennedy Donovan Center (KDC) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1969 on the principle that all children and individuals have the right to participate and thrive in their community. For over 25 years, Kennedy Donovan Center’s Cape Cod program has served over 500 infants, children, and adults with developmental delays and disabilities annually across Cape Cod. Our mission statement is to support people with developmental delays, disabilities or family challenges to pursue their personal potential and success in the community. We provide a wide range of effective supports to individuals and families through prevention, advocacy and intervention services that are person-centered, innovative, and compassionate. http://www.kdc.org

LIFE (Living Independently Forever, Inc.)
LIFE is a unique non-profit program that has been serving adults with learning and intellectual disabilities for more than 20 years. We offer a flexible range of options within and outside of our condominium communities located in the Cape Cod towns of Hyannis and Mashpee. We serve adults with a full range of learning differences and our residents have joined us from 21 states and several countries.

LIFE offers a full menu of services to enable residents to achieve their maximum capabilities within a nurturing and caring environment. Services include supports and resources in the areas of vocation/employment, education, social/community involvement and daily living skills. It is the LIFE goal that residents will continue to progress toward greater independence. http://www.lifecapecod.org

Transitions Centers
Transitions Centers Inc. supports individuals living with any challenge to transitions to greater independence and self-respect. We are invested in providing knowledgeable, compassionate, respectful, professional services in a positive and enriching environment. Centering on mentoring and challenging the potential and by providing services that are individually tailored to encourage better physical and/or mental health and a greater sense of self-sufficiency, and increase the individuals feeling of self-respect. http://www.transitionscenters.org.

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis. In schools across America, one in four school children now has autism.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $195 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in over 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org