Impact OASIS

TRAIL

Project Summary

Impact OASIS is proposing to create a Transitional Residential/Adult Independent Learning (TRAIL) Center that will provide young adults with autism a unique experience parallel to their non-disabled peers once they graduate from high school. After High School most young adults have a first opportunity to live on their own. Some go on to college; others may get a job and an apartment. Both begin to learn how to manage their own lives more independently; from ensuring there’s food in their homes to learning how to manage their time and take on adult role responsibilities such as work, continuing education or other type of community role.

This process starts, for most young adults, at the age of eighteen. For individuals with autism they are entitled to an education from their local Board of Education until twenty-one, hence delaying this move towards independence four years later than their peers. This service would remove that gap in terms of Real Life Skills growth by affording them the opportunity to move out on their own and experience the world the same way as their peers.

The OASIS TRAIL center will not only benefit individuals with autism, but the community at large. The center will be adjacent to open space that can be utilized for recreation by all community members. Visitors will be welcome to observe our organic farm and learn from our example of “green” living. The focus of our farming practices is to be sustainable and environmentally responsible. We will be open to ideas to help educate our children and community members about these practices. Additionally, we will be providing the community with employment opportunities and healthy products.

The OASIS TRAIL Center will provide the following services to assist in facilitating the transition from the role of student to that of an adult for those served:

• Residential/Habilitation services
• Vocational services
• Recreational
• Respite services
• Continuing education (focus will be on language comprehension and usage and social skills training)

General Operations

The OASIS TRAIL center will be open throughout the calendar year. From September through May, six to eight individuals will reside at the facility, parallel to that of a college dormitory. There will also be the capacity to take on six-eight day students. These individuals will be able to go home on weekends and holidays, as any college student may choose. During the day these residents will participate in a variety of activities and groups, dependent upon their needs. In the early afternoon, when they return from their morning chores, residents will learn to utilize their time and maximize their independence by participating in an array of exercises designed to facilitate their move towards greater independence. Learning how to utilize personal time; how to manage one’s finances; how to determine preferences, interests and hobbies, and self advocate for their needs and dreams will be built in to their daily schedules.

Starting in June the OASIS TRAIL Center will become a “camp/respite” center for individuals on the autism spectrum. Specialized educational programs will be set-up to meet the unique needs of teenagers on the autism spectrum. Other specific programs will cater to higher-functioning autistic individuals and include special reading programs and an integrated social experience. Respite weeks will be planned to compliment the local summer school program.

Residential Services

The OASIS TRAIL center will provide housing for to eight individuals with autism from eighteen to twenty-six years old. These individuals will all have semi-private rooms and share a kitchen and other amenities of a “farm” environment. Skill building may include, but not be limited to daily living skills such as grooming and meal preparation; healthy eating and living choices; housekeeping skills; self awareness and advocacy strengthening; money management, etc. Learning how to utilize one’s leisure time will also be part of the planning in order to ensure that personal energies can be directed to as many personally productive activities as possible throughout one’s day.

Vocational Services

The OASIS TRAIL center will also serve as a Vocational site. Potential opportunities for vocational skill- building and job training may include:

• Gardening and nursery skills
• Animal Care
• Farming skills
• Creative arts utilizing flowers & plants
• Catering opportunities/Food Service
• Operating a Retail business selling arts and organically grown products

Recreational Services

The OASIS TRAIL center will also be utilized by the students for recreational purposes. Such recreation will include, but not be limited to:

• Walking
• Bike Riding
• Music lessons
• Jogging
• Swimming
• Art lessons
• Yoga
• Dance lessons

Respite Services

As stated above, the facility will be used as a Respite/Camp facility from June through September. Summer programs will be posted on our website.

Consumers to be Served

Individuals with autism between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six will utilize the facility from September through May each year. These individuals will demonstrate a desire to live on their own similar to their siblings and non-disabled peers. Individuals served will be able to function within a certain skills frame in order to ensure that appropriate staff supervision is available to support these individuals in their experience. Individuals will be screened and a team of professionals will review applicants and ensure that the supports available will match the individuals’ needs in order to ensure their own protection and welfare at all times. Parental or family participation will also be a pre-requisite.

Process used to develop proposal

This proposal was created one hundred percent by the input of families and parents based upon their children’s needs and desires. IMPACT families have become cognizant that their children with autism were not being afforded the same opportunities as their other children once they became adolescents and young adults. While their nondisabled siblings were beginning to attend college and work part-time, these individuals were still at home, dependent upon their parents and/or other family members for entertainment and activities once they completed school for the day/week. This often becomes complicated when parents are balancing the needs of other family members (including themselves); their careers, and the time it takes to complete routine chores that go into the running of a household.

While other families go through the natural process of their children becoming more independent and leaving home these families were becoming more stressed. The needs of adolescent/young adult are far different than that of a child, and involve much more planning and time to ensure that they can be productively engaged in activities of choice. Complicate this with the additional needs of full time support during these leisure activities, and families have no time to run errands and/or manage their own personal needs.

As a result, these families came together to explore where the gap was between their children with challenges and other children in their families. They noted that while the other children were off and running in their late High School years, the children with challenges not only were in school while residing at home for an additional four years, but also in need of more intensive supports when engaging in community-based age-appropriate activities. This became the seed to look for an alternative experience that would parallel the developmental process of other teenager and young adults in the family. The group then began to formulate the aforementioned concept and is now seeking funding and support to convert this concept to reality.

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