VILLANOVA, Pa., April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As April begins, so does National Autism Awareness Month, a month dedicated to educating and bringing attention to autism spectrum disorders and the estimated 1.5 million Americans living with it. Since the 1940s, Devereux, one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of mental health services, has provided a wide array of programs for those with autism from residential schools to programs that focus on young adults past age 18. This transitional period to adulthood is often the most difficult for families as they move beyond the educational system and are challenged to find new programs and resources for their loved ones.
"Many of the existing programs offered to individuals with autism and their families are focused on children," said Bob Kreider, President and CEO of Devereux. "At Devereux, we provide resources for the entire life cycle. Autism doesn't end when you turn 18."
A recent study, "Post-High School Service Use Among Young Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder," published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, described the decrease in resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders after high school. The study showed that 39.1% of individuals that had received extra assistance in high school had not received any assistance services after age 18.
Before "Brad," 22, joined Devereux's Community Adult Autism Partnership Program (CAAPP), his family was very concerned as to whether or not he would ever have the skills necessary to live independently. He relied on his mother to do his laundry, cooking, and make doctor's appointments. Brad's family knew how important it was to help him get those skills because some day he would have to live on his own.
When Brad joined CAAPP, the staff tailored a program to his needs and made his independence a priority. Brad now does his own laundry, food shopping, and even calls the doctor's office to refill his own prescriptions. Brad is now looking for jobs and enjoying his new life and friendships. This progress was achieved in just a year's time.
"Brad is a perfect example of what we do every day at Devereux," said Todd Harris, PhD., Director of Devereux CARES. "We tailor programs for individuals so that they can increase their social, professional, and functional skills. We can't cure autism but we can develop individuals' strengths and abilities to help them adapt to their community and achieve their potential."
CAAPP is just one of the many resources Devereux provides for those with autism spectrum disorders. All resources focus on creating a tailored program designed to work on building skills valuable for the individual. Skills range from learning how to use public transportation to learning a trade, such as pewter manufacturing or flower arranging.
In response to the growing demand for information on this topic, Devereux has created an Autism Transition Handbook. The goal of the handbook is to ensure that individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families have access to the most current and comprehensive information on the transition to adulthood.
The handbook takes the form of a Wiki, living in an online forum that will allow the community of parents, professionals, and advocates to converse and help one another. The handbook is continually updated and can be found at http://autismhandbook.org.
Robert Kreider and Dr. Todd Harris are available to speak about Devereux's programs and resources specifically designed to help adults with autism make the transition to independent life after high school. For more information on Devereux's autism spectrum disorder programs and resources, please visit http://devereux.org/autism.
Devereux is a leading nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, behavioral disorders and mental illness. Founded in 1912 by Philadelphia schoolteacher Helena Trafford Devereux, the Devereux Philosophy of Care focuses on bringing out the strengths of each individual through research-based assessment and treatment programs. Devereux employs 6,000 staff and operates 15 centers in 11 states, providing services to more than 15,000 children and adults annually. For more information, visit www.devereux.org.
Contact: Christa Fazio