Why Focus on Training and Employment for Adults with Disabilities?

When you hear the word autism or hear that someone has autism, what is the picture that comes to mind?

For many people, they think of the puzzle piece symbol or the face of young child. That’s because numerous organizations have worked hard to get the word out about the importance of diagnosis, therapy, and training for young children with autism and other disabilities.

While enrolled in school (through the age of 21), people with disabilities have federally protected rights to education, training, and programming through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, once they turn 21, their opportunities are left to the mercy of whatever government services are provided by their state. This is the care crisis that we’ve written about previously.

We know that special needs like autism don’t magically go away once a child grows up. So, when school services end, people with disabilities and their families are often left scrambling to find something to step into that void. For people with special needs, a job search takes on additional challenges because they need to find employers who understand the challenges AND the benefits of working with people with unique abilities and needs. Unfortunately, not many employers like this exist. In the past, large companies like Wal-Mart employed people with disabilities to serve as greeters, but in recent years even those opportunities have dried up. Additionally, many people with special needs are intelligent and creative, and they want the opportunities to use their talents in a meaningful way.

The reality is, for the most part, people with special needs must develop a particular skill well enough to work without any accommodations from their employer, yet very few programs exist to help them develop those skills. This leads to a lack of opportunities for adults with special needs.

On The Avenue was created to help bridge that opportunity gap by giving individuals with disabilities a place for belonging, continuous learning and development, and a way to contribute meaningfully to their communities.

The accepting and supportive environment we’ve created for our Citizens helps them build a social circle (an area where they often struggle) while learning the skills necessary to work in the creative services industry — a field that is especially well suited to the unique talents and abilities of those with special needs.

On The Avenue provides hands-on training and real-world experience to help our Citizens develop photography, videography, illustration, creative writing, and editing skills. With a solid grasp of these in-demand skills, On The Avenue Citizens can hold their own in the job market. They generally don’t need accommodations in the workplace and can use their skills and abilities to contribute to the success of a business or organization.

And that is our ultimate goal here. We believe that when people with and without disabilities work together to accomplish their goals, the sky is the limit.

If you or a family member are interested in attending On The Avenue, learn more here.

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