This post is by Serena Selkin, Assistant Director, Grants and Jordan Litt , Family Services Intern.
In 2011, Autism Speaks funded a transition curriculum at ABILIS in Greenwich, CT to address four key goals: life skills, independence, friendship skills, and employment opportunities. Through our Family Services Community Grants, Autism Speaks helps families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder now, and addresses the growing population of adults wanting to contribute to their communities. For many young adults there are milestones that signify independence and growing up, such as graduation from high school, college, or even a first job. For many young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder these next steps toward independence may not be as easy, and this is where the ABILIS L.I.F.E . program makes an enormous impact.
Karl, a former participant in the ABILIS L.I.F.E. program, has gained his own sense of achievement and independence as a direct result of the program. According to Karl’s family, the ABILIS L.I.F.E . program was a “Community College of Autism,” where higher functioning young adults can thrive and live a life of acceptance and independence. Karl now lives at Chapel Haven, where he uses the skills he learned at ABILIS to thrive in his new community.
*All the photos from this blog post are courtesy of Keelin Daly*
Karl’s job at ABILIS improved his limited attention span, and helped him to work on his social skills. If there was a problem, or a machine was not working properly Karl would use the social skills he learned at ABILIS to interact with the other people in his workplace to solve this problem. Karl, who usually expresses himself through music, has now learned other ways of communication. These lessons that Karl has learned not only apply to the work environment, but he also carries them to his day-to-day life. For example, when visiting his grandparents he was able to lead his grandmother out of the airport. During his visit he was able to make himself waffles for breakfast, and know that after a meal he should bring his dishes to the sink. Applying what he learned to these seemingly simple tasks are a huge step for Karl, and his family.
ABILIS L.I.F.E. has allowed Karl to explore different avenues outside of what his school district has to offer, and allows for the networking of his parents, and parents of other children like Karl. Karl now lives and attends Chapel Haven School where the transition from ABILIS L.I.F.E. has been seamless.
Check out this video of Karl featured at Chapel Haven, playing the cello!
For more information on our Grants programs, please visit /family-services/grants/community-grants
Bonus Photos: Karl Playing the cello
Karl Doing Some Laundry
Karl Going to The Grocery Store
Karl Getting Money at The ATM