ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Friday, July 14, 2006: 1:45 PM-3:00 PM
552 A-B
#2334- Adults with Autism: What Does the Future Hold?
Very few communities in the U.S. have programs designed to serve adults with autism. Even fewer have staff with training and experience to work with this special population. Still fewer offer 24/7 residential programs, appropriately trained, monitored, supervised, and supported direct care staff. This presentation will present a working model of a program that provides all of the above--a program in which clients are engaged in the life of their community, and are constantly learning. A program parents respect.

Presenters:Ruth Christ Sullivan, Ph.D., Autism Services Center, Founder - Ruth Sullivan, Ph.D. is Founder/Executive Director of Autism Services Center in Huntington, WV, founder of National Association of Residential Providers for Adults with Autism and was the first elected president of the Autism Society of America. She has published books, book chapters, articles and for years was a columnist for the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities. She was a consultant for “Rain Man” and her son, Joseph, an autistic savant, was one of the two major models for the character Raymond. In November 2005, she was appointed to the 32nd Institution on Rehabilitation Issues (IRI).

Michael Grady, M.A., Autism Services Center, Chief Operations Officer - Michael started working for Autism Services Center in 1985 as a Direct Care Staff and is now, with the retirement of its' founder, Dr. Ruth Sullivan, ASC's CEO. Mr. Grady received his Master’s Degree in psychology from Marshall University in Huntington, WV.

Jimmie Beirne, M.A., Autism Services Center, Director of Residential and Community Programs - Director of Residential and Community Programs, Autism Services Center. Jimmie started as a Direct Care Staff of ASC in 1988 and held several other positions in management before being named Director of the Residential and Community Departments. He received his Master’s Degree in Psychology in 1997 from Marshall University in Huntington. He has presented at several ASA national conferences and at other local, state and national venues.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will gain information from professionals working hands-on, daily, with adults who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Participants will gain insight to the myriad issues in serving adults in community settings, especially in residential programs.

Participants will learn about some of the roadblocks to adult services and what can be and is being done (e.g., lack of training for direct care staff, costly staff turnover, and inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates).

Participants will learn what they can do about it.

Participants will have an opportunity during the Q and A session to give feedback.


Adults with autism, after aging out of the public school system, will find very few autism-specific services in their communities. Especially scarce are appropriate residential services, provided in community-integrated settings.

This presentation will discuss a successful working model of a program in Huntington, WV which includes homes with three clients, and 24/7 staff, often one staff to one client.

The residential program includes individualized services in natural-family homes, and in apartments--some with staff supervision, of varying intensity. The group homes are in regular neighborhoods. All clients have jobs, usually part-time, and with job coaches who are also staff at the residence. Some jobs are volunteer and without pay, but are considered excellent job training experiences. These include getting up on time, getting dressed appropriately, preparing/eating breakfast, cleaning up, arriving to work on time, receiving job assignments, doing employer-controlled and designated work, in a community worksite, and doing quality work.

A segment of the presentation will be on the critical issues involved in recruiting, hiring of staff, initial training, on-going in-service support, monitoring and the importance of oversight and hands-on supervision of managers who are knowledgeable and experienced in working with adults.

There will be stories and video of clients who, on admission, were on large doses of psychotropic drugs and out-of-control. Within a relatively short period of time, the client is participating, without major behavioral issues, in the life of his household (e.g., cooking, vacuuming, yard work), his neighborhood, his community, and eventually in a job.

An important component of the presentation will be a discussion of the Medicaid System and how it views individuals with autism and the impact Medicaid cuts and freezes have on the lives of these individuals and their families.

The important topic of philosophy, dignity, and respect for clients will be discussed. It is not enough to read an agency's brochures about how this is applied in their organization. The topic will be expanded to include the details: Is the bathroom clean? Is the kitchen neat and sanitary? Is the dining area one you'd like to eat in? Is the house attractive? Is the yard well kept? Are clients and staff well dressed? How do staff address and interact with clients? Are parents satisfied with the program? Do they trust the provider?

There are approximately 25-30 providers in the U.S. who voluntarily offer autism-specific services to adults, for a lifetime. Autism Services Center is one of these.

A Question and Answer session will be part of the presentation.

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