“An Independent Me” Opens Doors and Opportunities for Austin Adults with Autism in Summer 2012
Transformative living facility becomes a home for adults with developmental disabilities.
An Independent Me (AIM), a living experience for people ages 16 and older with developmental disabilities, will open its doors as a summer camp in Cedar Park on June 11, 2012. AIM provides a safe and supportive environment for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) . Using scientifically validated techniques and curriculum , the camp will teach life skills, support educational opportunities, provide on-the-job-training and coaching, create meaningful jobs, and prepare campers for a step up to the next level of independence. Come fall, the camp will convert to a group home. Campers will have the option of staying on as residents.
This extraordinary setting in Cedar Park, Texas includes an ranch house on 4.5 acres of pastureland plus a horse barn – a fenced rural retreat in the middle of this booming Austin-area subdivision offering opportunities from high-touch to high-tech. Campers can interact with horses, sheep and chickens and cultivate gardens; take art and video classes on site; and participate in camper-guided tours of YouTube, Facebook, and the Web. Participants can also elect to take classes at the nearby Austin Community College (ACC) campus. AIM is will work with Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) as well as neighborhood restaurants and other businesses to provide job opportunities for campers. Transportation to and from school and work will be provided by the camp.
Angela Day, AIM Board President, says “This is an extraordinary community. Vocational, educational, and life skills training is designed specifically for the needs of those on the entire ASD spectrum, from non-verbal autism to high-functioning Aspergers. We are excited about our exceptional staff , who will make sure each resident and family member who walks through our doors feels safe and secure, and sees a bright future.”
AIM staff have extensive experience in job coaching. The community will maintain a 3:1 ratio (one coach for every three residents) to provide optimal attention to each individual. AIM has the resources and space for up to six adults to live on the premises full-time and 20 day-time members. There is no maximum time set for full-time residents to live at AIM, and space is filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
AIM’s opening in June 2012 as a summer camp that will feature different jobs each week for campers. Residents will participate in vocational assessments to determine their interests, aspirations, and talents, then work with DARS or Arcil (a developmental disability job placement) to find a job that fits their skills and desires. Campers may visit for one week or stay through the summer until mid-August. Campers may register for Summer 2012.
Come fall, AIM will push the boundaries of traditional group homes by collaborating with a behavioral psychologist to develop a behavior management plan for each resident. AIM takes a strong stand against constraint as a remedy for behavioral challenges.
An Independent Me is supported financially by private donors and intends to apply for grants and to attract sponsorship funds. AIM is currently seeking donors for the ‘Sponsor a Camper’ program. To learn more about some of this year’s registered campers, visit the Sponsor a Camper page on the AIM website. Camp registration costs $400/week for day campers and $800/week for full-time resident campers. Any donation amount will be graciously accepted.
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