When the School Bus Stops Coming: Challenges Facing Young Adults with Autism and Other Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities

by jbragg | No Comments

Autism and After School Options by The Arc of San AntonioOver 200 civic leaders, educators, non-profit partners and parents attended The Arc of San Antonio’s community breakfast on May 10th.

“When the School Bus Stops Coming: Challenges Facing Young Adults with Autism and Other Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities,” presented the growing need for
additional programs and services in San Antonio to help young adults who are transitioning out of high school.

More than 2,600 students with an autism diagnosis are enrolled in public schools in Bexar County. As they graduate, these students lose their guaranteed services such as education, social and life skill training and vocational training.

“There’s a wave coming,” said Steve Enders, president and CEO of The Arc of San Antonio. “Over 100 young adults with I/DD are graduating each year from San Antonio schools, and there is clearly a lack of services to help them continue their learning.”

Rita Kosnik, professor of management at Trinity University and Rosario Farahani-Espinosa, retired educator, both spoke about the challenges they face as parents of children with disabilities graduating from high school.

“Graduation is a curse,” said Kosnik. “Young people with autism end up living in the basement, the bedroom, just existing. They have skills and want to work, but we just don’t have the resources.” Farahani-Espinosa spoke about the other side of the spectrum. Both of her sons, Michael and Andre, have severe autism and limited verbal skills.

Denise Resnik, co-founder of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix, AZ, was the featured speaker of the event. Resnik, mother of a 20-year old son with autism, recognized 15 years ago that services in Phoenix were limited. She, along with a handful of parents, created one of the premier centers focusing on autism research and programming in the United States. Today, SARRC features programs and education for young children as well as a transitional program for teens called the CommunityWorks program. This program helps fi ll the gap for young adults with autism by providing volunteer and vocational opportunities.

Enders would like to create similar opportunities in San Antonio.

“Our enhancements include a “level 2” day habilitation program for individuals who may need more support than a traditional program,” said Enders. “We also would like to feature a program similar to community continuing education courses by offering courses on various topics adapted to individuals with autism and other disabilities.”

“We see the potential in each individual that we serve,” said Enders. “By adding these components, The Arc is providing a continuum of services to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.”

 

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