Autism Speaks Grantee Recipient Story: ChildServe

ChildServe employees

Autism Speaks supports community programs that provide people with autism with fulfilling social and educational experiences through the Autism Speaks Local Impact Grant program

ChildServe, a recipient of our Local Impact Grant, shared their story:

ChildServe offers 30+ pediatric specialty services, and 16 of those services support children and young adults diagnosed with autism. Thanks to a grant from Autism Speaks, many of the kids we serve have the opportunity to participate in a social enterprise called Snack Shack. 

The ChildServe Snack Shack is a mobile cart full of pre-packaged treats available for purchase in our waiting room. Individuals in our Day Habilitation and Autism Life Skills programs have worked hard to get the cart up and running. 

Alongside ChildServe staff, these individuals run the cart while practicing business skills like communication, making transactions, purchasing inventory and restocking. “The teens and young adults we serve have a lot of enthusiasm for this new project – I love seeing the individuals bond with each other – they are truly a team! It is exciting to see the skills they are learning in a real business-like environment,” said ChildServe Director of Community Services Barb Williams. “They enjoy working together and are very supportive of each other. We have had very positive feedback from staff and Families.” 

On a weekly basis, ChildServe’s waiting room can see up to 1,000 individuals visiting our outpatient therapy clinic. The cart is set up two times a week and has become very popular amongst our team and waiting room guests. 

ChildServe employee

Individuals working the cart have enjoyed the opportunity to talk with and meet new ChildServe kids and families. Snack Shack also offers nonfood items such as fidget toys for kids that may not be able to enjoy the snacks offered. 

“I have witnessed a lot more engagement among the individuals working the cart. Week after week, the individuals say how much fun they are having,” said ChildServe Occupational Therapist Christine Weiland. “The individuals have demonstrated increased confidence and competence with their skills when interacting with Snack Shack customers. Families have shared with me that their children are ecstatic to come to therapy to participate in Snack Shack. 

“The Snack Shack will impact individuals with autism in countless ways by working on several different skills, including social skills with peers or individuals in the community, self-cares needed for a job, sensory regulation, attention to task, sequencing, and money management,” said Christine. “The teens and young adults gain several skills by working in the Snack Shack that they can use in future jobs, Supported Community Living, vocational rehabilitation, or at school.” 

All of the money made goes directly back into restocking supplies and supporting the cart. The individuals we serve are already excited to brainstorm how we can add additions to Snack Shack, like a coffee maker! 

We are grateful to Autism Speaks for providing the funding needed to launch Snack Shack. We can’t wait to watch the individuals we serve thrive through this opportunity and to build upon this unique therapy tool.  

Smiling SnackShack employees

Learn more about ChildServe's autism programs

Learn more about Autism Speak’s Grant Program.

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