Over the next decade, an estimated 500,000 teens (50,000 each year) will enter adulthood and age out of school-based autism services.
Parents often refer to this aging out of school-based autism services as “falling off the cliff of services.” The majority of parents experience the graduation of their child with joy but also with much trepidation and fear as they once again try to navigate a future for their child as they start from scratch.
For the families with children who experience academic success, their challenges are compounded by a misunderstanding regarding their child’s ability to successfully transition to adulthood. Autism can affect children in very subtle, but profound ways. The hill parents climb includes educating others regarding how autism impacts their child because it doesn’t “look” like others perceive autism to be.
Many interpret the deficits to be intentional especially when the individual with autism performs well academically. How can someone be so bright, and not understand how to obtain and then keep a job? Although every individual with autism is diagnosed based on the same criteria, each and every one of them experiences these deficits differently.
The Dennis J. Sanders III Autism Foundation recognizes the need for individuals with autism to have the opportunity to learn from actual job experience. Providing an environment that is structured and supportive is good for all in any business. In fact, research has proven that when employees understand: 1. the work that is to be done 2. the specific details of the job 3. when the job is completed satisfactorily and 4. what they are to do next, they actually perform better.
The first step in providing this type of opportunity in Wichita is the opening of a coffee shop/book store/café called Good Company. Here, all individuals will work in an inclusive, person first environment, and benefit from experiencing the success that occurs when everyone works as a team within a structured and supportive environment.
The primary goal of Good Company will be to empower young adults with autism and developmental disabilities as well as encourage other businesses to understand the value of hiring an individual with autism. Equipped with the appropriate tools and experience from Good Company, any individual will have the ability to execute their knowledge in most job settings. Subscribe to stay informed and learn more about opportunities for your child!