Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs an individual’s ability to communicate and socially interact. Each ASD diagnosis is unique to the individual, and therefore no one with Autism is like any other person, and their treatment must be individualized as well.
If you ask a parent of a child with Autism what Autism is, the answer might be “Autism is a feeling of disconnect, isolation and hopelessness, filled with difficult moments that never seem to come to an end.” Autism is a child’s non-stop screaming for no apparent reason, or hitting, biting or breaking things because you tried to hug them. It’s making one hundred kinds of food and the child eating none of them, or being in a public place and leaving immediately out of embarrassment or because you were asked to leave. It’s not sleeping at night, or an aching sadness because your child is never invited to a birthday party. It’s people’s faces filled with pity, anger and incomprehension. It’s the shadow of fear that begins to grow the moment your child is diagnosed, a shadow that follows a family and is mirrored in the tired eyes of the parents in their seemingly endless search for help.
But Autism is also an appreciation of the smallest and simplest triumph achieved by your child. Whether it’s trying a new food, their response when you call their name, or even them finally calling you “Mom.” It’s a mind that can recall entire TV episodes, and the look they give you that says more than words could ever say. It’s these moments that fuel your daily hopes and struggles and flow through your heart and give you strength to wake up every morning.
And one day your child turns 21 and you realize that school is over but the job isn’t done. What is the next step?
ACES (Autism Customized Employment & Services) is Abilities’ solution to that question. Each day people graduate from school and go to work, and this can also be possible for people with Autism. It won’t happen the same way it does for others, but by customizing treatment, ACES allows people with Autism to thrive by gaining a clear and realistic understanding of their potential. Everyone aspires to be part of their community, even those with disabilities, and through the use of applied behavioral analysis Abilities can identify strengths, create new routines that support growth, and facilitate independence and success.
Splash helped Carissa with an inserting job at the Abilities Community Rehabilitation Program. Splash practiced following directions and cooperating, and is getting paid for all of his hard work. Work hard, Carissa and Splash!
We’re always looking for more businesses to partner with for any labor intensive fulfillment and packaging. For more information visit: www.abilitiesnw.com/fullfillment-packaging.php
Splash and his friend Jeff volunteered to deliver a cake to Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter in Easton. Splash learned that helping other people is important. For more information visit www.abilitiesnw.com
Splash and his friends at Hackettstown Center volunteered at Byram Animal Rescue Kindness Squad (BARKS), then went for a picnic. It was fun learning how to take care of animals and work as part of a team. www.abilitiesnw.com
Splash and Jon from Abilities MSN (Medical Specialized Needs) program went to ShopRite to get groceries with staff assistance. It was a good opportunity for Splash to work on life skills, following a list and money skills. At the same time Jon and Splash checked out at different jobs in a supermarket. Dream big, Splash! www.abilitiesnw.com
Eric attends Abilities’ Hackettstown program, and not long ago Eric went to the program supervisor’s office, and with difficulty explained that he was lonely and there were only a few people he felt comfortable talking to. Marcie, his supervisor, decided to challenge Eric by asking him to be a team leader and take on some responsibilities. He agreed and was connected to Abilities staff member Megan, to be his mentor. Eric was put in charge of decorating the Hackettstown program’s bulletin board with the theme of Developmental Disability Month for March, and Autism Awareness Month for April.
Enthused, Eric immediately returned to his work area and began planning. The staff saw an immediate change in him, as Eric appeared more relaxed as he worked on his project. The center’s newest person, Splash, offered to help, and soon the pair had created a beautiful bulletin board. In the process they both learned about teamwork, and by the end of the project they were both more independent and confident. Eric’s smile says it all: at Abilities we identify an individual’s strengths, reinforce positive behaviors, and watch them grow. Eric is unique, as is Splash and everyone else at Abilities, but their stories of finding success are similar to that of many Abilities’ service recipients with autism.
For more information about Abilities ACES, a comprehensive and innovative service designed to address the vocational and societal needs of the ever-growing population of adults with autism, visit www.abilitiesnw.com/aces.php
Today Splash and his friend Kayla did contract work at Abilities MSN (Medical Specialized Needs) program in Washington. Splash practiced counting, sorting and packaging, and he and Kayla had fun seeing who could fill their box first. Kayla won, but Splash is looking for a rematch! www.abilitiesnw.com