“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” Denis Waitley
We have thought, and said, and advocated for a long time that the adult services available for individuals with ASD do not match their needs and strengths. However, saying this has not changed the landscape for our individuals. We are starting a new program that we hope will support some of the individuals who could benefit from a different structure than what is currently available.
The Gottschall Access Program is the culmination of work between The Gottschall Foundation and Community Autism Resources. For the past 4 years, the Gottschall Foundation has hosted a summer college program for adults with ASD. Each year that program has grown and transformed into a more comprehensive and diverse program. With each adaptation that was made to the program, the students rose to the challenges and requested even more. They wanted not only a summer program, but a full year program, a college program, a certificate of achievement. We listened…and we believed.
In September of 2016, we will launch the Gottschall Access Program (GAP). The Gottschall Access Program offers adults on the autism spectrum a unique opportunity to enhance their lives, vocational and social skills. This will further enable them to participate in internships, and then eventually the pursuit of gainful employment. This will take place on the Fall River, MA college campus of Bristol Community College. Here, students will enroll in a 3-year program of specially designed courses and have full student access on the college campus.
The program will offer 3 main branches of concentration for career and internship development:
Purpose: to teach highly marketable job skills; allow students to utilize organizational and consistency skills; and to provide the students with a foundation for internships within the Massachusetts Court System
Purpose: To improve communication skills; social skills; and confidence
Purpose: to provide nutritional education; work skills; physical activity
Students will be placed in an internship in their desired field, and receive a Certificate of Completion from Bristol Community College upon fulfilling all program requirements. All courses focus on developing self-determination skills, critical thinking and soft skills. Students construct a career pathway throughout their program that is specific to their learning styles, strengths and interests.
In addition to these courses, students will also complete Enrichment and Health courses every semester. These courses will aim to broaden interests and discover new skills while also promoting a healthy lifestyle that includes diet, movement, safety and stress management.
By designing and offering this program, we hope to broaden the options that are available to people with ASD while also showcasing the skills and abilities of this community as employable and valuable members of society. We have been talking for too long…it’s time for some action. We hope this program will be as successful as we know it can be and that everyone will continue to look at creative and innovative ways to support and nurture our very unique population of adults with ASD so that we can create reciprocal relationships utilizing everyone’s strengths and needs.
For more information about the Gottschall Access Program, please visit the website at Gottschall Access Program