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Autism Vocational/Life Skills Training
SARRC's Vocational and Life Skills Academy (VLSA) is designed to help young adults and adults with ASDs express interest in potential careers while learning necessary life skills that will enhance their ability to live and work more independently. The academy works to model best-practices in the area of vocational and life skill development with community integrated programs, for individuals age 13 and older, that include typical mentoring and staff support.
In early 2009, SARRC opened its 10,000-square-foot Vocational & Life Skills Academy, where students with autism will learn important skills to help them live as independently as possible. The building is located at 2225 N. 16th Street, just minutes from SARRC's Don & Sybil Harrington Campus for Exceptional Children.
- Autism Artisans
- Autism CommunityWorks®
- Employment Services
- Entrepreneurial Center for Special Abilities
- Humana GardenWorks(SM)
- Life Skills Classes
This series of art workshops will expose emerging and established artists with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) ages 13 and older to a variety of art mediums. This program utilizes art to promote autism awareness, therapeutic intervention and opportunities for the talents and contributions of individuals with ASDs to be appreciated.
CommunityWorks® is a vocational, community-based training program for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and typical peers ages 13-18. In collaboration with several community organizations, CommunityWorks develops and promotes best practice job training and social skills.
CommunityWorks Program Coordinator
SARRC’s Entrepreneurial Center for Special Abilities (ECSA) is partnering with Arizona’s most celebrated chefs to create CulinaryWorks. Signature soups are being prepared, package and sold, on-the-go, by SARRC’s Vocational & Life Skills Clients. CulinaryWorks extends beyond the functional benefit of satisfying hunger, it contributes to the success of young adults and adults with autism by engaging them in every aspect of product development.
Employment Services is a vocational, community based, job training program for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), 18 years and older. Employment Services is designed to ensure job development and placement of each enrolled client, with a custom job plan and job coach to meet individual employment needs. Each client works one-to-one with an Individual Supported Employment (ISE) job coach, who provides on-the-job training and support. SARRC thoroughly screens each client for appropriateness for employment and works with each client to determine individual strengths and needs, and to identify barriers to success. Employment Services include, but are not limited to skills training in resume building, filling out applications, interviewing, personal hygiene and appropriate dress for work and non-work settings, and conducting oneself in a professional manner. In addition, job coaches provide continuous support for each client. They monitor each client’s progress in an effort to target support and training toward different areas of need throughout the program.
Entrepreneurial Center for Special Abilities
ECSA provides young adults and adults with ASD's training and work opportunities that involve them in every aspect of operating a business. ECSA's CulinaryWorks® program partners with Arizona's most celebrated chefs in the packaging, preparing and selling of SARRC's signature soups. ECSA's newest program, Humana GardenWorksSM engages individuals in developing and sustaining a revenue-producing co-op garden. Community members are encouraged to mentor individuals with ASDs in both programs to help them gain skills they can use to work toward financial independence.
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) developed GardenWorksSM, a community-based job training program, to address the growing need of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) as they age out of the school system and into the job market. GardenWorksSM will engage young adults and adults with ASDs in every stage of developing and sustaining a revenue producing venture. The program offers individuals with ASDs hands-on garden and landscape training that will give them skills they can use to give them future financial independence. Training includes providing basics of landscape maintenance, sustainable landscaping, permaculture, herb/vegetable garden and water harvesting techniques; and growing, preparing and selling products from SARRC’s organic garden and greenhouse. Funding for the program has been provided by a grant from Humana Arizona Benefits.
Life Skills Classes
The series of life skills classes are designed to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders successfully learn the basic skills needed to socialize, become employed, and live independently.
Some of the targeted objectives for these classes are understanding body language, developing honest relationships, navigating the workplace, preparing for an interview, basic budgeting and money management, utilizing public transportation, managing a household, becoming involved in the community, maintaining proper hygiene, and preparing simple meals.
PEERS (Program for the Education & Enrichment of Relational Skills) is an empirically validated, parent-assisted intervention focusing on tweens & teens with ASD in middle school and high school who are having difficulty making and/or keeping friends. The intervention includes separate parent and teen sessions that meet concurrently. The group focuses on skills such as having conversations, entering & exiting conversations, electronic forms of communication , choosing appropriate friends, handling teasing, bullying, appropriate get-togethers, and much more!!
Erica Skepnek, Psy.D.
Psychological Services & CommunityWorks Program Supervisor