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Els for Autism Adult Day Training Program Success Story

Over two years ago, Robert’s (name changed to protect identity) high school chapter ended at The Learning Academy (TLA) housed in the Shanken Education Wing on The Els Center of Excellence® campus. The daunting chapter of the rest of his life loomed large for Robert, as it does for many individuals with autism after high school graduation. While some individuals with autism can pursue further education, others have different paths.

In October of last year, Robert started the Els for Autism Adult Day Training (ADT) program housed inside the Stoops Family Adult Services Building. The Stoops Family Adult Services Building offers a range of specialized vocational labs and rooms, a sensory lounge, a hospitality and life skills suite, and dedicated therapy rooms.

At first, he was hesitant to participate and often required prompting to complete activities. Through the use of evidence-based practices, Robert has displayed more confidence and independence when engaging in activities in the classroom, the vocational labs, the Sea of Possibilities workshop, as well as attending community-based outings throughout the week. All aspects of the program can enhance the lives of adults with autism in a meaningful way, but it is in Sea of Possibilities where Robert truly shines.

Robert enjoys creating beautiful art pieces and is learning to work independently and develop other skills. He listens and watches intently to learn how to create each piece of art. Once he begins his work, he follows visual step-by-step instructions independently. When it comes to painting or using a paint brush to paint glue on for a project, he no longer uses the task analysis because he has mastered the skill of using the correct amount of paint or glue. Robert is always happy in the Sea of Possibilities workshop and works with a smile on his face, showing how much he is enjoying what he is creating.

Robert’s mom says, “Being nonverbal on the autism spectrum meant not really being able to convey his inner thoughts or feelings. As a mother, I often wondered what was going on inside his head. While I may never hear him say ‘I’m happy Mum,’ he has found his voice creatively, and it says, ‘My heart is smiling.’”

We are so proud of the accomplishments Robert has made in less than a year and can’t wait to see him continue to share his voice through Sea of Possibilities.