Ryan R

Ryan R

The prevalence of autism in New Jersey is the highest in the country with one in forty-nine (1:49) receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Most of the attention is focused on meeting the needs of these children yet when they turn twenty-one (21), much of their financial and service supports end. However, their disability does not disappear and they certainly are not done learning!

 

Friendship House Adults with Autism Day Program opened its doors September 2010. We offer our members a safe environment to learn new social, work and life skills. Our members and their families report greater personal happiness, improved communication and social skills outside of the program and increased independence with daily living at home. Ryan R. is a wonderful example of the postive impact of the Friendship House Adults with Autism Day Program.

 

One of the members in our Adult Autism Program, Ryan R., has recently taken on a consulting position with Neighbours, Inc. as a peer mentor. He has become very involved with helping others in his position to do their own Essential Life Planning and to speak up for what they want out of their lives. In conjunction with his work as a mentor, Ryan is attending the Partners In Policymaking workshop in Trenton where he is learning to lobby for change at the legislative level. He recently received a call from the office of Senator Bob Gordon who has accepted Ryan’s invitation to attend a mock hearing at one of these workshops.

 

Ryan has worked very hard to find his own voice and through his work as an advocate, he is helping others to find theirs as well. “This is something I should be proud of… [teaching] individuals with ASD how to self-direct their lives to independence. It’s a life experience.”

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