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Your Dollars @ Work: Empowering People to Support Kids with Autism

This Your Dollars @ Work is from Tina Waters of Include Autism, a 2012 Family Services Community Grant recipient in San Diego, Calif. that created training programs for interns, volunteers and "Peer Pals" at community-based programs serving youth with autism.

Thanks to a grant from Autism Speaks, Include Autism was able to create an informative and meaningful Volunteer Training Program for youth "Peer Pal" volunteers and adult interns volunteering at community-based programs for youth with autism. We also created a Being a Peer Pal handbook.

With autism's prevalence increasing, its essential for people to increase their understanding of the condition and more importantly the people affected by it. 

This new curriculum and program is providing a platform of understanding -- empowering both youth and adults to mentor, support, and develop positive relationships with youth with autism in their shared communities.

We now see these individuals taking the concepts they learn through the training program into their every day lives, serving as role models in their communities and pursuing careers that support individuals with autism.

​"The most valuable thing I've learned is that each of these kids has their own personality, their own unique nuances," said Sean Heavey, recipient of the intern training.  "I want to share with high schoolers and people my age is they are unique individuals with unique personalities and unique perspectives."

"It's interesting to see how they see things and communicate with people. It's fun to get a different point of view," says Jake, age 16, recipient of the volunteer training.

Click here to download the "Being A Peer Pal" training program!

Click here to download the adult Interns training program!

Click here to download the volunteer training program!

Below are some great photos of our volunteers receiving the hands on training and using the skills and ideals they learned!

Your Dollars @ Work is a blog series highlighting the important work of past recipients of Autism Speaks grants to give you a glimpse into how your donations are changing lives of so many in the autism community! Check out previous entries here.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.