Programs for young adults with autism offer them the tools needed to live more independently and enhance their quality of life. These programs may include life skills classes, vocational training or socialization courses.
These programs may also assist autistic adults in overcoming obstacles they are likely to encounter when searching for work, attending college courses and living within their community.
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Social Drop-In programs like the one provided by Social Connect aim to assist young adults with autism to build their social skills in a natural setting, making friends and forming community bonds in an inviting setting. Meeting weekly for fun crafts, games and movie night events – Social Drop-In welcomes youth ages 18 or older diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Research demonstrates that young adulthood can be a difficult time for those with autism to maintain meaningful social relationships, with friendships formed in elementary or secondary school often dissolving during this transition period. Adults with ASD also often face more severe mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression than other adults.
Easterseals provides programs to adults with autism to stay connected to their communities and develop skills necessary for independent living, job placement, and continued education. Their programs also facilitate socialization and positive behavioral choices.
These program models share various essential features that may facilitate successful social experiences for adults with ASD, including acceptance, emotional and physical safety, mentoring and access to life skills training and job readiness skills. However, it remains unclear how these features relate to success over time since most current research on this topic uses cross-sectional methodologies rather than statistical mediation analysis; longitudinal research will help better illuminate this relationship.
Chill and Connect
Autism spectrum individuals can often focus on themselves more than their peers, leading to social isolation and lack of friendships. Comorbid conditions like anxiety, depression and ADHD may further exacerbate social struggles for these individuals, leading them into repetitive habits like turning off and on lights several times before leaving home, or preferring flip flops over winter shoes.
Young adults with autism are capable of making meaningful connections in the community. High school can provide teens with experiences and opportunities that will prepare them for future opportunities; such as coursework decisions and diploma tracks, early volunteer experiences and reputations/transcripts/relationships that could influence postsecondary options (Newman, Wagner, Cameto & Knokey 2009).
One way Chill Online helps youth with autism connect is through its new program that brings young autistic adults together with others who share similar interests, using social media and interactive strategies such as games to keep participants engaged. Led by a peer mentor, this service was developed specifically to develop independence and social skills while being easy for young people to access through NDIS funding.
Active with ARC
Activities designed to stimulate individual interests and foster new friendships can provide individuals with an avenue for personal discovery and growth. Such activities could include volunteering, exploring their community and working on skills that enhance lives.
On Wednesday evenings, Social Drop-In provides young adults with an opportunity to share interests, connect with their peers, and enhance their social skills in a supportive and safe environment. The group goes out on excursions depending on the season – in warmer months they might go for walks while when it gets cooler they might visit a city-run leisure centre for workout options; during winter months improv for Autism is offered at Globe Theatre giving participants the chance to experiment with improvisational techniques while building spontaneity and creating opportunities.
Prep4Success is an annual transition program created to assist individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities make the move from high school to adult life successfully. Through clinical, residential, and day program services provided to each participant individually, Prep4Success offers individuals a tailored person-centric experience to reach their own life goals.
The program also offers training to first responders such as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical staff about the challenges and needs of individuals with autism. These sessions help them better comprehend the unique difficulties that these individuals may be experiencing as well as ways to effectively communicate with them.
Improv for Autism
An increasing number of clinicians are turning to improvised comedy as an aid for people living with anxiety and social communication disorders. Some theater and comedy schools even offer classes tailored specifically for children and adults with autism and other special needs.
At the beginning of class last week, students sat idly in a circle, taking turns picking an emotion before acting out a scene where “dude” was spoken with different tones of voice. Additionally, a game called World’s Worst was played where all members in attendance guessed whether an actor’s storyline was positive or negative. Many teens initially hesitated but soon got into it thanks to some games, giggles, and encouragement from teachers.
Rachel Fisher, a speech-language pathologist and co-creator of Adam Johne’s class on autism, had the idea for using improv comedy as part of teaching autism to her students. Together they collaborated in designing this class together.
Teens not only learn the fundamentals of improv but also how to cooperate with one another and turn social faux pas into comical moments rather than humiliation. Improvisers introduce them to an improv concept known as “Yes, and…” which encourages acceptance of what others in the group say while building off of it further.
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