All of us have dreams and goals. The focus of our community programs for people with intellectual / developmental disabilities is helping children and adults on the autism spectrum, with a traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, or other cognitive disabilities achieve their own meaningful goals.
Some aspire to get a job or live independently. Others want to make new friends and explore the world around them. We believe that a life of healthy interdependence is important for all, and so, we help people to build a strong circle of support they can count on in pursuit of their goals. Our programs combine recreation, creative arts, volunteer work, life skills, pre-vocational training, and job coaching in a mix that helps each person fulfill their own aspirations. Working with people one-on-one to determine what their goals are, we then provide the resources they need to achieve them.
Adult Day Habilitation
Hiking, creative arts, a trip to a museum or a day helping others — for the people in our Day Hab program, each day brings new opportunities to learn, socialize, and enhance their life skills. Day Hab participants come together in small groups to expand their horizons and participate in their community. Individual Service Plans, based on the strengths and desires of each participant, are woven into each day’s activities.
Through education and exposure to new experiences, each person is engaged through various methodologies. Community integration is a key component. Whether learning to socialize with peers at the YMCA, volunteering at the local animal shelter, or participating in a Zumba class at the community center, the men and women of the program engage with the greater community and build skills in various areas of their lives. Art also plays an important role. A boy who doesn’t use spoken language to communicate may draw in bright colors to indicate a feeling of happiness. Then, staff can use that cue to help identify why he is happy in that moment and promote opportunities for similar moments. No matter the skill level, men and women get to experience activities of their choice that help to enrich their days and make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Preparing for Meaningful Work
Those who aspire to economic independence learn how to assess their strengths and plan a career in our Pathway to Employment program. We help men and women with a desire to work develop a career plan that will help each person identify areas where they would like to work as well as the steps they will need to take in order to reach their career goals. Through discovery exercises supported by our staff, the men and women get to try out many different volunteer, career exploration, and skill development activities.
Hands on Training
Our Pre-Vocational program provides actual hands-on training for people with a desire to work. Through volunteering, professional skill building and other work-related activities, men and women learn the culture of the workplace including how to interact positively with co-workers, and expectations about dress and timeliness. They can then build confidence in their mastery of various skills through practical on-the-job experiences on our campus — in the cafe, delivering the mail — or by volunteering in other programs.
Once someone has completed pre-vocational training and is ready to work, we help them find a job that is personally fulfilling — one they will be happy to have for years to come. For all the people we support, we provide job coaching and on-the-job mentoring as well as assistance looking for the right job. Some people may be also trained in the specific skills needed by an employer.
“I work at TGI Friday as a hostess, and I want to keep working there for a long, long time because I really like my job,” says Crystal Vargas, who is proud of being part of a team helping people have a good dining experience.
In our Supported Employment Program, she learned the skills needed to land her job. Like all participants in the program, she was assigned a job coach who worked with her onsite to learn the workplace culture and make sure she was comfortable in her new job. Her dedication, combined with the support of her coach, soon led to a promotion from rolling silverware to greeting guests.
Children’s Recreation Programs
Who wants to stay home on the weekend? Not the children we support! They’d rather participate in sports, creative arts, dance, music and field trips.
On weekends, the children’s recreation program is ready with opportunities to have fun. Children socialize with peers and gain a greater sense of independence through the opportunity to build skills and socialize with others of similar abilities, which is critical to children with special needs. Through recreational activities, children learn vital socialization, communication, and safety awareness skills, as well as improve their self-care skills. In addition, children receive guidance and support from a psychologist, nurses, nutritionists, speech therapists and communication specialists. Families and caregivers get a break, too, confident that their children are in safe, nurturing hands.
Our support is also delivered right to the door of those who need it – when they need it. On weekday afternoons or evenings, staff visit the homes of children and adults with intellectual / developmental disabilities to help them learn the specific skills they want to master, such as brushing their own teeth or traveling on the subway. Through one-on-one coaching, we segment activities such as creating a food shopping list or a budget for the week into achievable steps so they can be motivated by the joy of their success each step of the way.
Our support doesn’t end with helping people with intellectual / developmental disabilities. We train parents, grandparents, and siblings to support socialization skills and activities of daily living. These in-home visits also give caregivers much needed respite, time they can spend with their other children or running errands.
We are strongly committed to identifying each person’s strengths, dreams, and aspirations. Those strengths and aspirations provide the roadmap for each person’s journey to a better quality of life. In doing so, we exceed the standards for Personal Outcome Measures (POMs) set by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL), whose guidelines we follow.