Education August 3, 2021
This transition program assists young adults with autism in developing meaningful goals
Young adults with autism spectrum disorders face many challenges as they mature into adulthood. The College Internship Program (CIP) is a transition program that provides students with opportunities to become more independent while enhancing self-advocacy abilities.
Mary, 23, attended a special education school with 12 students in each class. As a freshman in college, she enrolled at George Mason University. Transitioning from school to university can be overwhelming for many young adults. Mary, who is on the autism spectrum, found the change to be even more intimidating.
“Transitioning into college, but having never attended public school, I had no idea what to expect in the neurotypical environment. I was constantly stressed to my limits as a result of overstressing my academics”, she says.
The experience made Mary realize that she had to develop skills that would help her deal with the transition better. She enrolled in the College Internship Program (CIP), a private transition program for young adults aged 18 to 26 with autism, ADHD, or other learning disabilities.
Mary came to CIP to improve her “flexibility, executive function, and social thinking”.
Coping with adulthood harder for young adults with autism
Dr. Michael McManmon founded CIP in 1984. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s when he was in his fifties. His personal struggles led him to develop an abilities-based program for young adults with autism, ADHD, and learning differences.
CIP now has five center locations throughout the United States, with students from across the country as well as abroad. A full-year program is available as well as two-week summer programming for high school students. Through the CIP summer programs, high school students with autism, ADHD, and other learning differences can develop valuable skills to succeed in college and beyond.
CIP Brevard program director Dr. Michele Ramsay says that the goal of these programs is to provide comprehensive support to students with learning differences as they develop key skills for independent living. Dr. Ramsay has over 20 years of experience in the field of autism and learning disabilities, including curriculum and program development.
It’s easy to get caught up focusing on a student’s academic success as a benchmark for independent living. if the student has good grades they should easily be able to navigate adulting? This is false. It’s the soft skills that create the most challenges for young adults on the autism spectrum. I have witnessed students struggle with making and keeping friends, non-verbal communication, executive functioning skills, medication compliance, and emotional readiness. – Dr. Michele Ramsay, Program Director, College Internship Program, Brevard
Customized programs at CIP
CIP assists young adults with autism, ADHD, and learning differences in developing meaningful life goals that highlight their dreams, strengths, talents, and capabilities. As young adults take the steps toward self-determination, they are guided by a “Continuum of Growth” model. This model aims to help students reach their full potential.
CIP offers customized programs for each student. In order to determine a student’s strengths and weaknesses, CIP has developed numerous competency-based assessments. “Programming is then developed to close the gap on students’ weaknesses and build upon their strength thus increasing their level of confidence and ability to use the tools they learn”, says Dr. Ramsay.
Academic, career, life skills, social skills, advising, wellness, and clinical services are offered to students. Academic track students typically enroll at a local college or take online coursework with CIP’s assistance to earn a certificate or degree. C-STEP is a program that provides students with more job readiness training and supported employment opportunities.
Mary, who studies psychology, at the Florida Institute of Technology, says CIP has helped her become more outgoing and flexible.
“I feel a lot more confident in pursuing my future goals. I have learned better ways to manage stress, and became more comfortable in a college environment.”
Mary says she no longer fears failure. I learned at CIP that it is okay to fail and that success is failure turned inside out. “I learned to stop having perfect expectations and learn from past failures.”
Developing self-determination can be difficult for anyone, not just young adults with autism, ADHD, and learning differences. The CIP supports 175 students each year on their journey to becoming independent within the community.
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