EMPLOYING AUTISM

HOLDING THERAPY ACCOUNTABLE AND DISRUPTING THE WORKPLACE

According to statistics cited by Autism Speaks and other Autism Advocacy sites, the annual cost of therapy per child per family if over $40,000 per year. The lifetime cost to support an individual lifetime has been is between 1.4 to 3.2 million dollars. Sticker shock?

Let’s back up…costs of education and therapy are high. If the investment of educating an individual competes with average college tuition, why aren’t our client’s better prepared for life? Better prepared to have sustainable and competitive employment? My experience as a therapist is in teaching some brilliant minds. Yet, when there are conversations surrounding STEM, math science programs, and the like…these brains labeled as autistic, are omitted from the conversation.

Where have we gone wrong or mis-stepped in our programming? I have read IEPs, looked at early learner programs…and there is  little  to no preparation for general education transference or inclusion planning. This supports the parent stereotype that special education is a life sentence.  But this phenomenon is happening in private ABA Therapy programs and in school settings.  Let’s not even discuss middle and high school. The indictment here is that many therapist’s running programs are great in their scope of training…but not necessarily in the how to create transferable programs and skills so that success in the real world (Kindergarten) can occur.  The first real world for a child is a school of typical brain developers. The challenge here is that how do I move my client from here (my session, my center, my clinic) to there (successful inclusion and transference of the learned skills)?

Parents are critical in this process. To be the managers of the vision. The vision that you have for your child for 21. Where do you see them? What is their world like?

The first great ABA Therapist I ever worked with told me something that I carry with me “People are comprised of three large areas: Work (Education/Vocation), Leisure (Free time, Daily living), and Relationships (friendships, family,love).” When we look at our children from those three areas, what then becomes the vision? Teachers, Therapists are not vision holders. They can be vision implementers, vision zappers, or vision shapers. How do you know what is realistic? Should John who is nonverbal really have reading goals? Vision implementers would say yes, because the world is full of words and symbols and he must know how to navigate. Vision zappers would say “No and push the concept “functional life”.
Employing people with disabilities is not a new thought. The larger question is what real opportunities will we afford them so that they can lead life in a sustainable and interdependent way? Opportunities beyond packaging centers, laundry, and cleaning. I want opportunities in network computer security, engineering, teaching, computer repair, schedule coordination, physics, and nuclear medicine. Who needs to push? Parents. Who should be held accountable? Therapists and Educators.

I love store greeters. But, I shun at the thought that the client I worked with who can solve quadratic equations faster than I can eat a twizzler will be greeting me at the grocery store and packing my bags.

Let’s push the needle so these adults to be can SOAR!

Landria Seals Green, MA.., CCC-SLP

Resources:

STEM program kits for learners with autism

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