Empowering Adults with Autism through Innovative Programs

People living with autism can have various needs. These might include assistance with activities of daily living, employment or social skills development; in-home support as well as residential settings may be needed.

Dependent upon the severity of their autism, individuals may require autism programs for adults, counseling or vocational rehabilitation services; their personal income could also impact accessing needed supports.

Day Programs

Adults living with autism require day programs for socialization and recreation. Such programs can help people find purpose in their lives while developing skills that could open doors to career and volunteer opportunities.

Many nonprofits that provide these services also offer family support and transition planning, some are private while others receive funding through state-regulated or privately financed insurance policies. Families should contact local resources as well as autism-specific nonprofits in order to find which options would work best for their child.

Easterseals day programs are tailored for people whose primary needs involve socialization, recreation and community involvement. While Easterseals provides minimal supervision or assistance with daily living tasks (eating, dressing or walking), some attend full-time while others simply attend part of each day; it may even serve as respite care and a safe haven while parents work or are away on vacation.

Respite Care

Caring for someone with autism can be both rewarding and exhausting, which is why parents and full-time caretakers need to set aside some time just for themselves in order to attend doctor’s appointments, hang out with friends, relax or pursue hobbies and interests of their own.

Respite services provide temporary relief from caregiving for family members who provide primary care, relieving them of some of their burden and stress. Services may include home-based respite, adult day services and residential respite care.

When hiring a respite worker, consider their experience and training carefully. Make sure they possess knowledge about autism spectrum disorder behaviors as well as effective approaches for dealing with them. Request references from previous families who have used their service. Discuss safety matters with the worker – for instance what situations call for an escape route should an emergency or sudden change arise that requires it.

Employment Support

Many adults with Autism share a strong desire to work. Achieve this goal should be part of everyone’s life plan and can be achieved with appropriate services and support. Options exist for competitive, integrated, or supported employment for these adults.

Competitive employment refers to working alongside non-disabled peers in the community, such as data entry, office assistant, janitorial and retail positions. Finding work that caters to an individual’s particular skills and interests is essential; several resources exist that can assist individuals in finding suitable jobs including training, job coaching, transportation support and sensory supports (noise-reducing headphones, turning off overhead lights or respecting personal space).

An economic analysis (Cambell systematic review) has concluded that supported employment is cost-effective from both an NHS and Personal Social Service perspective, when compared with standard care, with two outcomes identified – weeks in employment and quality adjusted life years.

Vocational Rehabilitation

Finding and keeping employment can be an incredible struggle for those living with autism spectrum disorders. Work can enhance quality of life, provide purpose and independence while decreasing public benefits dependency. While many are capable of finding gainful employment, studies have revealed a number of obstacles standing in their way.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) provides essential public support for individuals looking for employment, including adults with autism. Local VR counselors assess eligibility and help select which services would best meet each person’s needs – these could include exploring potential career options, finding jobs locally and receiving short or long term job coaching and support services.

Vocational therapy comes in various forms: personal adjustment, prevocational training, compensatory education and vocational training. Whichever form is most helpful will depend on an individual’s strengths, abilities and interests; to gain more information on this subject please read Adult Autism & Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals.

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