Join us for a night of games, snacks, art, and conversation. For young adults who have special needs aged 16 years and older. You should decide if a parent, guardian or aide is needed to accompany the young adult. 8/6/15 June is here! What are you doing with your son/daughter? Tap into your natural resources! (family/friends/neighbors/community) It's not too late to register for camp! Ask if the cost can be covered through medical assistance and/or waiver. Is your son/daughter working yet? Think about them getting a volunteer job to build on their resume, and then move on from there.
Happy 20th Birthday Kyle! We are more than half-way through May. April is over, and you can count on me to continue spreading Autism Awareness each month. I will be taking major steps in Autism ACTION! We have done a good job getting monthly socials for young adults started in our neighborhood, but we would like to create more recreation opportunities, that occur more often for individuals with special needs. Also, I will be vigorously posting videos and daily updates on Kyle progression to ADULTHOOD. My hope is that through transparency, I, and others, may learn what to do with AND for our young adult before the "school bus ends" and we prevent "falling off the cliff".
In April we had another IEP meeting regarding Kyle's transitional goals, and we are moving toward job training in the community with supports. As my son, Kyle, is approaching 20 years old and has not had a paid job yet, I am more determined to help him become gainfully employed. We have been in this transition phase for a few years, getting Kyle volunteer experiences and increasing job shadowing experiences. As we get together with friends that have graduated and are in their mid 20's, we hear that they haven't had much success gettig jobs. They have HAD SUCCESS with secondary education in modified college programs. We can still DO MORE. **Parents and guardians are going to have to help their young adults and adults get internships, volunteer, get jobs, explore colleges, tech schools, housing options, etc. WE MUST THINK ABOUT QUALITY OF LIFE for our children! If something WE ALL want isn't happening and does not yet exist....WE WILL BUILD IT!**
In April, we attend many events and talk to people every day about what we CAN DO to make the quality of life better for our young adults. I am please to say that we are building upon many community supports as the days go by.... As my time is limited, I encourage youall to visit the AUTISMGUARDS facebook page, which is easily updated almost daily with real time information. :)
I/ we feel grateful for all of the school and community support, Kyle and his friends are receiving. Very appreciative of the The William Jeanes Memorial Library and Nicholas and Athena Karabots Center for Learning for holding free socials once a month, and other inclusive events and programs, that promote a wonderful sense of community and fun!
*2016 GOAL="Can we get a functional waiver?"...(no more labels to qualify...based on need...slots supported by real money...now more waiting list!.)
(I document and share Kyle's journey and information, not to brag, but to inspire! See AutismGUARDS Facebook Page)
Kyle had a few good art showings and was the featured artist at the William Jeanes Memorial Library last month. His debut was the evening of our first Connecting Exceptional People Social. It was a big success and we are certain this month's social will be just as fun. Come join us!
School is Back! Kyle is a Senior! Kyle continues to have his wonderful Life Skills teacher and the PWLS team. We are thrilled that Kyle has Mrs.Prager and his classates help and encourage him. Mrs. Prager is activiely working on his schedule and is reviewing job opportunities that will be an apprpriate fit for Kyle! We look forward to Kyle having a variety of subjects and work opportunities to make his senior and super senior years worth while, so that he wants to go to school and be successful in getting and keeping a job in the “real world”. His highschool career has gone well, as he has maintained basic reading and math skills, developed social skills, some cooking skills, and taken art studio courses. This fall, Kyle will show his creative drawing talents in a few art shows and we couldn't be prouder!
Kyle continues to do various extracurricular activities throughout the year. Many are on a weekly basis. Music therapy in Haverford, PA through MA at Music Works., mental health counseling at Central MHMR, Roxborough YMCA (mostly tredmill and walking) He sees his peer mentor, Derrick, from Trail Guides MH in the afternoons. In the fall he will go to Anime art classes for 8 weeks with Elkins Park, PA. He also volunteers at local libraries and works on travel training on the Septa bus with Derrick. (Derrick's hours can be limited, as he has other clients, but sometimes he can give Kyle more hours per week.) Friday nights are Kyle’s “social nights”. Working together with a team from Jeanes Library, their neighborhood library, put together a night where youth can gather, talk, share hobbies, eat, and socialize on the 3rd Friday of the month. Free Friday nights can be spent at the Ambler YMCA, at a dance through ACF (Autism Cares Foundation), bowling with friends through Autismguards group, or just hanging out somewhere doing something special. On Saturdays in the fall for 10 weeks, Kyle will join Tennis Buddies for the 3rd year in a row at Montgomery Colleges tennis courts from 12-1pm. Sundays are Kyle's FREE DAYS.
We keep Kyle very busy in meaningful activities. We do worry about his stamina, focus, and frustration levels, but continue to present him opportunities in which he can grow and learn. We sent him to a 2 week residential/vocational/life skills program known as Carousel Connections in Haverford, PA. He did very well there, according to their anecdotal notes and pictures taken of Kyle on a daily basis. We visited Kyle as well, and he was very happy. Kyle felt mature and confident in living with peers and became more independent as the days continued. He became familiar with expectations at work, (facilities), and routines in the dorm and on the job. At the end, Kyle did not want to leave!
Kyle will graduate in less than 2 years, at the age of 21. The end goal must be that Kyle can go into competitive employment. Kyle will need accommodations and modifications on the job: job coach, a flexible work schedule, with part-time hours and days may be necessary, Kyle may need to try a few jobs before finding the one that he is the most appropriate fit.
*Here in PA, Montgomery County, we must think of OVR’s expectations b/c they are the only source of help Kyle after 21 in our area that is covered through medical assistance. Their expectation upon graduation year is that Kyle be able to work in a public business 10-15 hours a week. We, his parents expect Kyle to be able to spread out his work days and hours with the PW team, to meet these current expectations of OVR. (We know that new information from OVR and changes to their expectations of taking on young adults like Kyle and inevitable.)
We are excited to see what progress and goals will be made in Kyle's Senior Year and maybe, just maybe, he will be employed somewhere by his Super Senior Year.
August is here, and unfortunately, this is the month that many of our school aged kiddos are at home. ESY is over. Sadly many of our young adults, especially the over 21 crowd are sitting at home year round. Not because we want them to, but because we may not have the resources (time and money for an escort,companon, transportation, agency, therapy, club, camp, etc. I am currently exhausting our natural resources (family, friends, community,medical assistance providers) to make certain that Kyle has variety in his days, as well as a consistent routine. Kyle had an AWESOME experience last month for 2 weeks at Carousel Connections residential living and working program located on Haverford College, PA. I was able to document much of Kyle's experiences through pictures on my FB page: Autismguards. We have had to make some hard decisions and reorganize priorities during this month. Sometimes, it can't just be about our one child, sometimes we need to think of our family as a whole unit. We will get one last hoorah down the shore, thanks to my parents owning a place near Wildwood. Then, it's back to school. We are not looking forward to the early mornings that start at 6:20 am. We are excited that Kyle will be returning to a wonderful public high school with a terrific Life Skills program. Can't wait to see what volunteer and work experiences Kyle will experience this school year!
July is here! We are in the thick of it now. Keeping a routine with your child/adult is important during this time of year. We recently visited the Jersey Shore for a few days, and Kyle still needed consistency to remain calm, cool and collected. He can pretty much go with the flow, but needs to know what's next. We wrote out schedules and posted rules on walls. Why? Because, things don't remain in the forefront of Kyle's mind all the time. He needs visual reminders. Life for Kyle is less stressful and we had a great vacation. Hope you all are having a happy and safe summer!
Check out my FB page for many good ideas on these topics and see what is happening in Kyle's journey!
May is Mental Health awareness month. It is also Apraxia awareness month. Better yet, it's Kyle's 19th birthday! The past 2 months have been very busy for us, so I have yet to make specific updates to these web pages you see here. I did gain more young adult resources through an event that MCIU hosted earlier this month. They really have a great list of most of the wonderful resources for young and old special needs in Montgomery County, PA. You can contact them and request any and all infomortion that they gave out at their Transition Fair.
Central Office Address:
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit 23
2 West Lafayette Street
Norristown, PA 19401
Central Office Phone Number:
Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
As always, I encourage you to log on to facebook to view DAILY UPDATES on the goings-on of Kyle, his friends, and our journey.
***2 things: I will host a table this month at the ASA event (see news) and at Plymouth Meeting, PA Township Day.
April was Autism Awareness month. You may see blue lights, blue balloons, rainbow puzzle piece ribbons, or some other variation, all to help spread awareness about Autism. Wikipedia defines Autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. I noticed that my son Kyle was regressing in language at about 1 ½ yrs. old. He went from 20 words to 5 over the course of a few months. No real explanation here. Could be attributed to genetics, environmental factors, maybe even vaccinations that contained mercury.
I have had almost 18 years of Autism Awareness, we need AUTISM ACTION MONTH! Kyle is in high school and will remain within this public school district until he is 21yrs. old. It’s little comforting to know that he has this entitlement for a little over 2 years. The thought of what to do when the “bus stops coming” makes me anxious, to say the least. That is when taking the routine of school days for granted ends, and Kyle’s days will need to be strategically planned from morning to night; 24/7. Kyle will hopefully work and live in his community, but it is going to take a lot of creative planning by Kyle, but mostly by me, his Mom.
So, what would I like you to be aware of during this very special month of Autism awareness? Know that when your child gets diagnosed with Autism, you will grieve because your picture of their future may change dramatically. The good news is that there are so many more resources and proven strategies that help to bring out the best in your child, so try them. I get so excited with all the advancements in technology, fidget toys, and weighted blankets. I often think, “Wow, Kyle could have used that when he was little.” The bad news, just because your child tries something that has worked for another child on the spectrum, doesn’t mean that it will be successful with him/her. The greatest news of all, parental support is right at your fingertips! Facebook and other social media have helped me personally within the last 6 years. I have been able to really advocate for Kyle and his peers on transitional issues like bridging the gap between high school and adult life.
I really WANT YOU to know about Adults living with Autism. Our young adults still need so much support. Not just financially, but emotionally. They yearn to be included in our communities and want to have active adult lives. Sadly, I know quite a few young adults, not attending school, who do not have a job, and do not have any funding to help with cost of living expenses. Many young adults with Autism will need ongoing job coaching and supported employment opportunities. Most of these adults have so much potential and do not want to stay home all day, every day. Many young adults do not have friends, because they have limited social and verbal skills. They may not always be able to communicate what they want, but we should reach out and help them speak up for themselves. My son tells me what he would like his adult days to be filled with and I prompt him to take an active-roll in planning his days and his own free time. Kyle must do things independently, without Mom being there to do it for him. The wonderful news is there are new opportunities in colleges and big businesses to help all adults get “real world” experience. More importantly, individuals with Autism present differently, and not one of them is the same; they are unique and can contribute to our society. How will you HELP?
Mrs. Tara Horwitz
Founder of AutismGUARDS.org
Mother of a Young Man with Autism
Advocate, and Educator
Changes in Pennsylvania are happening constantly. Please get involved and participate in these conversations! I think that we need to collect public opinion, data from consumers and families here in PA, to ask what they want regarding independent working and living. Data should drive what initiatives, policies, and waivers we create for our citizens. What are the practical uses and how do they play out in the real world? I believe it is extremely important to hear and listen to consumers with Autism; those that can advocate for themselves. Parents can advocate for our children! I will continue to be a very vocal advocate for our Autism community and remain steady in talking loudly about the issues that matter to us by writing local legislatorsThe President has made his State of the Union Address. Sadly, I am not sure issues involving health, special education, safety, funding for independent working and living are even thought about seriously in Washington D.C.. Our citizens with disabilities do not seem to be a priority in our current congress.
*If you would like to learn about local meetings and events, make sure you visit the Facebook page: Autismguards
(It is easier to update information daily there!)
We parents must help our young adults tap into their talents and hidden potential by exploring opportunities, expanding possibilities, and focusing on high expectations while setting and meeting Realistic Goals." Tara Horwitz. With so many new opportunities happening around Montgomery County and conferences and the past Octoberfests this year. I get so excited over the fact that real conversations about improving services and funding are happening around here, so when I can't attend something, I may send an email, just to be included in the conversation. I may even write an actual letter!
With the winter months approaching, it is time for me to recharge, reflect, and plan for the future. I am in the process of editing this entire website and hope that the changes in the reources section are helpful to many. I am working on making sure links are clickable and that all information is as accurate as possible. It will take awhile, but it will get done. New resources are being added!
Here is a good read on the subject of exploring opportunities with our unique children: Untapped Potential: Autistic Adults
My son, Kyle, is an adult living with Autism. He has made me very proud and taught me more than I ever imagined. Do you have a teenager or an adult living with Autism? I do! Actually, as I meet up with more and more parents of children with any special need, I am realizing that we aren't much different from one another. We all want our children to thrive and live out happy lives. I started this site to keep track of resources for developmentally delayed/neurologically impaired pre-teens and teens, because I am concerned about transitioning, especially from highschool to "the real world".
We do not have monthly meetings at this time, however, we do provide information on local area meetings that may be of interest to those in the Autism community.
You are encouraged to check out easily updated information via our Facebook page: Autismguards.
(Pictured above Kyle and his Mom, Tara)
All the Best,
P.S. Don't know where to start? * Autismspeaks.org
This site is listed there, along with many other great resources to help us all!
*NEWEST=Community-based Skills Assessment (CSA): Developing a Personalized Transition Plan!
There are several valuable guidelines and outlines for the best ways to get started on advocating for your child or loved one.
The tool kit that I have found most helpful for my own son is the Transition Tool Kit!
They have an Employment Tool Kit and many others.
They hold the market on research and many other things...
Keep a binder and good luck on your journey!
Join us for a night of games, snacks, art, and conversation. For young adults who have special needs aged 16 years and older. You should decide if a parent, guardian or aide is needed to accompany the young adult.
June is here! What are you doing with your son/daughter? Tap into your natural resources! (family/friends/neighbors/community) It's not too late to register for camp! Ask if the cost can be covered through medical assistance and/or waiver. Is your son/daughter working yet? Think about them getting a volunteer job to build on their resume, and then move on from there.