Local program helping young adults with autism find work

April 25, 2018 09:03 AM

It's one of the fastest-growing developmental disabilities. Autism now impacts 1 in every 68 children.

As the autism spectrum numbers grow, there are still limited options for these individuals when they reach 21 and officially age out of school.

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Roughly 85 percent of adults with autism are unemployed, a number Arc of Monroe is combating with their own vocational program called LifePrep@Naz.

The program helps give young adults the skills they’ll need to get jobs. 

“Families need to start those searches sooner than later,” said Kathy Pelkey, Senior Director of Vocational Programs at Arc of Monroe. “See what’s out there. Know what’s best for you and when the time comes make the best decision.” 

According to Pelkey, the hard part about the aging-out transition is the wide range of needs in adults with autism.  
“Some people would be better for a day program or habilitation program. Some look for what we have here which is a pre-vocational program,” explained Pelkey. 

Day habilitation programs are an option for families, but not every adult qualifies, leaving families to find other options. 

The other big issue is housing. New York State has moved away from group homes, and more towards independent living. It’s a favored change for adults with autism, but also challenging as families navigate whether staying home or finding suitable living elsewhere is the best option. 

“At AutismUp we're keenly aware of the limited opportunities for individuals with autism when the school bus stops coming,” said Rachel Rosner, Director of Education and Support at AutismUp.

Rosner says the topic is even the center topic of their annual gala Saturday. 

“We are working every day with partners in the community to provide additional specialized opportunities for transition age and adult autistic people,” said Rosner. 

Families should stay in touch with organizations like Arc of Monroe and AutismUp for assistance finding available programs. 

They can also work with care coordinators to be linked to services as well. 


Beth Cefalu

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