The Autism Society of North Carolina has long recognized the growing need for more supports for young adults with autism. Our current strategic plan calls for a focus on transition services, employment supports, and the social needs of young adults and adults with autism. This spring, we created statewide positions to lead our Transition and Employment Programs.
Mindy Govan was named Transition and Employment Services Director. Govan’s years of experience include work with Vocational Rehabilitation School Transition and Supported Employment, TEACCH, and most recently, IGNITE, our community centers for young adults on the spectrum. Here, she shares about the new supports.
Why are adult transition supports a priority for ASNC?
When young adults on the autism spectrum finish high school, they often find themselves without support or guidance. They may not know how to enroll in or succeed in post-secondary education. They may not know how to apply or interview for a job and navigate the social and communication demands of employment. Without classes, they often find themselves isolated without the only peer network they have ever known.
Adult services are very limited for individuals on the spectrum, but of course they spend many more years as adults than as children. We also know that adults’ needs vary significantly from person to person. ASNC is working to address these needs by creating a variety of services.
We have wanted to provide more supports to help young adults for a long time, and we are excited about the opportunity to do that with the support of Trillium Health Resources.
Studies have shown that one in three young adults with autism has no paid job experience, college education, or technical training nearly seven years after high school graduation. But of course a fulfilling life is not only about employment and education. An enriched, happy life also includes wellness, positive social interactions, and independent leisure skills.
Our mission is to improve the lives of people with autism, and adult transition supports will do that for a segment of the population that has gone underserved. These supports will help them build a better future.
What will the new adult transition supports include?
Our new adult transition program in Wilmington and Greenville will help each participant learn the skills they need to become as independent as possible.
The transition program will focus on job readiness, job development, and job placement and training services. At the same time, it will help them learn the soft skills required for success on the job, like organization, attention to task, asking for help, time management, and many more.
We will also work on other areas such as financial literacy, daily living and independence skills, and social skills, to help them have a full and happy life.
The programming will include small group instruction (one-to-three) in the centers and one-to-one out in the community. We’ll also have group activities and sessions. The program will run year round, and participants will be able to choose from morning, afternoon, and evening sessions.
We’ll also cover transportation, community integration, advocacy, coping, self-regulation, health, wellness, and creative expression.
At our IGNITE centers in Davidson and Raleigh, we focus on members’ existing strengths and interests and then provide person-centered support and a pathway to future success. Members have a chance to step outside of their comfort zones with social and community opportunities. These new programs are based on those successful models.
Who should sign up?
Young people on the spectrum who are 16-26 years old are eligible for the new program. Because it’s funded through Trillium Health Resources, the participant has to live in the Trillium catchment area. The program has a heavy emphasis on employment, so participants will have to want and be able to work in the community with limited support. (Initial job placement and coaching will be provided.)
For these adolescents and young adults, this is an exciting, yet challenging, time. We encourage anyone interested to contact us to see whether the program would be a good fit. I am very excited about what these programs will mean for the individuals and families we serve.
How can people learn more or sign up?
They can fill out our online interest form and read more details on the website. Also, please feel free to email Transition Program Coordinator Shannon Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.