Adults with autism want the same things that most adults want: independence and control of their own lives, financial security, and healthy, fulfilling relationships with family, friends and perhaps romantic partners. They want a life where their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is fully supported. That support can come from a developmental disabilities program like the ones offered at Brighton Launch, designed for young adults, 18+, with learning challenges, who are preparing to move from school to post-school activities
What is a developmental disabilities program?
Put simply, a developmental disabilities program is an opportunity for people with autism or other learning difficulties to develop new skills that will help them better navigate the world. In the case of adults, it may allow them to transfer from the more intensive support available in childhood to a more flexible kind of assistance that allows them to set and achieve their own goals with some degree of autonomy.
Allowing for adjustments depending on individual needs, there are several areas often covered in these programs.
Some adults with autism may need permanent intensive support. Others will be able to have their own home but may need occasional assistance in certain situations. A development program can help teach basic skills, such as personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, shopping and budget management so they have control of their own lives and the meaningful freedom that comes with that.
Being able to work means financial independence and an opportunity to build new relationships and improve social skills. It can also be a stressful new environment that presents new demands on adults with autism, particularly in the realms of communication and social skills. Work experience can help them prepare for this environment. Development programs can also assist in making long-term planning decisions regarding potential careers.
Communication and social skills
Another area where people with autism often struggle is communication and social skills. These become even more important as adults, when they are likely to spend more time with unfamiliar people and are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt for communication failures. Practicing communication skills through a development program may give adults with autism the tools to better build relationships, in addition to supporting them in self-advocacy if they want to secure services for themselves.
Literacy and numeracy are often considered the basics of academic achievement, but they also play an important role in daily life. Many autistic people have difficulties with language and can benefit from extra support in these areas.
In the modern world, digital literacy has become increasingly important. A modern development program will ensure that students have access to computers and/or tablets so they can practice their digital skills along with their foundation skills. Not only does this allow autistic adults access to more independence and possible careers, it may also provide an alternative communication method if they struggle with direct speech. This is in addition to the role of the computer in connecting people, both in educational programs like this and across the wider world. At Brighton Launch, all students are assigned a Chromebook, and are actively taught digital literacy skills for use both in the classroom and at home.
When properly structured, a developmental disabilities program can provide assistance in all aspects of life for adults with autism. This allows them increased independence, giving them new opportunities in both work and personal relationships as well as finding effective ways to deal with their weaker areas.