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Over his lifetime, many thought Jason would not be able to work, participate in sports, make friends or enjoy hobbies. Jason struggled with behavioral outbursts. But as he identified individual goals in his IPP and settled into Marbridge’s Life Options training program, Jason made genuine progress in controlling his behavior. By the fall of 2008, Jason qualified for an internship position with Project SEARCH, a professional internship program between Marbridge and Seton Medical Center Austin (SMCA). The hospital hired him soon after graduation and he worked four hours a day, four days a week. Since that time, Jason has re-evaluated his goals, defined these changes in his most recent IPP and is blossoming in terms of those new objectives, including working on campus. An active on presence on campus, he loves art, participates in all of the special events and plays sports. Today, Jason has an rich life at Marbridge.

An alternative to group homes for autistic adults.

The fall/winter 2011 issue of the Autism Advocate, a publication of the Autism Society, 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 with autism. 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 autistic adults.

Because no single adult with autism 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 autistic adults and a viable alternative to group homes for autistic adults. Any program for autistic adults must consider the type of training and activities needed to assist that person in reaching his or her goals. Our residential care for autism adults is tailored to their needs and interests.

Life skills training; training and placement into jobs for autistic adults.

From tips on grooming, to fitness and exercise—residents with autism 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 autism 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 autistic adults, both on-campus and in the community.

An experience similar to college for adults with autism.

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 autism 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 autism can become self-determining adults, capable of competing—and winning—in the competitive workplace. Time and again, they prove us right.