Daniel achieved a major life goal in October 2010. He moved into his own apartment. It was the culmination of an effort that began in January 2007, when he moved to Marbridge. For the first six weeks, Daniel lived in a dormitory in The Ranch, one of three communities on the Marbridge campus. Here he learned to do his own laundry and clean his room. After mastering those skills, Daniel moved to the semi-independent cottages in The Village at Marbridge. He began taking Job Skills training and also took a job in the dormitory kitchen. Next, Daniel qualified for Project SEARCH, Marbridge’s professional internship partnership with Seton Medical Center Austin. The hospital hired him soon after he completed his training. Now his days begin early. At 7:15am, he dons a clean suit and enters a sterile area where he will inspect surgical instruments to make sure they have been thoroughly sterilized before carefully arranging them for surgery. It's an exacting job, one that Daniel has performed successfully for three years.
After work, Daniel enjoys relaxing at home. He makes dinner, plays the Wii, visits nearby bookstores and often walks in a park close to home. He knows his neighbors. On Tuesdays, Daniel takes the bus back to Marbridge where he participates in cooking classes to hone his independent living skills. An attendant from Marbridge drops by once a week to help him work on money management and other independent living skills. Like most young people trying to spread their wings, Daniel is proud of his accomplishments and his newly established independence.
An alternative to group homes for Asperger’s adults
The fall/winter 2011 issue of the Autism Advocate contained an article entitled, “Quality of Life Indicators for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum.” It listed nine indicators identified by the society’s advisory panels as key to establishing a good quality of life for adults on the autism spectrum. These include Friendships/Social Life; Inclusion; Health & Well Being, Autonomy, Subjective Well Being; Academic Success, Employment, Independent Living and Recreation/Leisure. It is with great joy that we can report that Marbridge fulfills all nine of the Autism Society’s quality of life indicators!
We provide an individualized program for Asperger’s adults
Because no single adult with Asperger’s syndrome is quite like another, our Individual Program Plan addresses each person’s unique abilities and attributes in designing a care program. This what makes Marbridge a special place for Asperger’s adults and a viable alternative to group homes for Asperger’s adults. Any program for Asperger’s adults must consider the type of training and activities needed to assist that person in reaching his or her goals. Our residential care for Asperger’s adults is tailored to their needs and interests.
Life skills training; training and placement into jobs for Asperger’s adults
From tips on grooming, to fitness and exercise—residents with Asperger’s receive a variety of life-skills-based training. Marbridge offers training in shopping, cooking, money management, healthy eating choices and much more. The goal of Life Skills training is to enable residents to reach the highest level of personal independence possible in their daily routines.
Residents with Asperger’s who desire employment are often enrolled in Job Skills Training. They learn the importance of staying on task, arriving at work on time, taking directions and adopting appropriate behaviors in an employment setting. Residents develop resume writing and interviewing skills and learn to set goals for the type of employment desired. Marbridge has had much success in training and finding jobs for Asperger’s adults, both on-campus and in the community.
An alternative to college for Asperger’s adults
Employment training and personal enrichment courses have been provided by Marbridge since its founding in 1953. However, in 2001 a more structured training program was developed that integrated education, socialization, recreation, independent living skills and employment instruction. This training program now serves more than 160 residents in the Ranch and Village communities. For adults with Asperger’s who are graduating from high school, Marbridge can provide a college-like experience.
Organized into semesters, the training schedule is based on each resident’s Individual Program Plan (IPP) goals. Generally, job skills training places within the top five goals identified in all IPPs. Job skills training is offered only to residents who list employment as a goal he or she wants to achieve. That’s because our job skills training is not a job coach program. It’s different from what most families encounter in high school or other care communities, where a job coach accompanies the individual and stands by them all day. Our program trains residents to be independent employees. At Marbridge, we believe young people with Asperger’s can become self-determining adults, capable of competing—and winning—in the competitive workplace. Time and again, they prove us right.