The challenges families face when children with autism grow up
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we want to keep you informed about important health and safety matters. We believe it's our responsibility and privilege.
April is Autism Awareness Month.
In tonight's Sinclair Cares report: The challenges families face, when children with autism grow up.
In the basement of his Maryland home, Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer B.J. Surhoff reflects on his major league career. But it's his role as a dad that has brought the most rewards -- and the most struggles.
B.J. and his wife Polly have four grown children, including Mason, who just turned 25.
Mason has autism and taking care of him is a full time job.
Mason spends his days at Itineris, a day program that provides young adults with autism with job training to help them transition to the real world.
"Itineris provides person centered programs focused on helping individuals develop the skills needed to obtain a meaningful job in a field they enjoy. We focus on Pointe Based Learning and Community Based Learning and programming that utilizes the Itineris Adult Autism Career and Life Skills Curriculum. Our adults participate in Work Awareness and Job Readiness classes, social skills, community integration, decision-making and self-advocacy, technology, Independent Daily Living Skills, Functional Academics and Fitness and Wellness classes. Staff are trained in autism, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), TEACHH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children) and a variety of other strategies to best support our adults. Additionally, staff provides individualized and goal oriented support." -itinerisbaltimore.org
Because there is stark reality that every family faces.
There's a phrase in the autism world called falling off a cliff, which is what happens at age 21. It’s when the services and support that were available to school age children are suddenly gone.
Mason's transition to adult life brings its own set of challenges. His part-time job at a local library gives him a sense of independence and productivity.
But it isn't easy and, for the Surhoffs and every family with a child with autism, there is that looming question about the future.
What happens to them when you're not around?
The Surhoffs have started the nonprofit Pathfinders For Autism, to bring awareness to autism spectrum disorders.
Around the country, there are a few residential communities for adults with autism. The Surhoffs hope that idea catches on, to provide more choices for families.