Greater Expectations Program Overview
THE BIG PICTURE
An estimated 50,000 Americans with autism will turn 18 each year as part of a surge of children diagnosed in the 1990’s. Of these 50,000 Americans, a significant number have graduated from high school with average to above average GPA’s. These individuals have a desire to get a job, dream of attending college, and anticipate a future much like their peers. However, due to subtle deficits that often times go unnoticed, their opportunities for success are often limited, and the pathway to adulthood can be riddled with difficulties and disappointment.
As they graduate from high school, many individuals and families are faced with the daunting reality that the supports and services they relied on during their formative years have now come to an end. Compounding this fact is the unfortunate reality of a community that is not always prepared to understand the unique talents and needs of these individuals.
THE GREATER GOAL
As part of the Independent Living Resource Center, Greater Expectation’s mission is to become a catalyst for growth and opportunities for individuals ages 15 and up on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. Personalized visions and goals are developed by using evidence based practices and a team approach with parents/caregivers. Comprehensively this information is folded into an individualized plan and is the starting point for each individual. Within an environment of structure and support, our highly qualified staff facilitate:
- Work skill acquisition
- Social connections and relationships
Ultimately, each individual is set up to experience a much more fulfilling, and gratifying quality of life.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
After more than 18 years in the field of speech-language pathology and working with individuals with learning differences, we have designed a program that targets the core issues that keep individuals from connecting with others and preventing them from establishing quality of life. These challenges are directly related to impaired social thinking abilities. In turn this also affects higher executive functioning skills and together hinders confidence and success. Therefore, our program layout encompasses three core areas that are helping our individuals succeed.
HOW IT WORKS
Prior to starting our program, each individual/caregiver will:
- Complete the Case History/Intake forms
- Have an informal “Meet & Greet” meeting with staff
- Participate in a 2-hour required “Rapport” building time on site
- Complete an initial assessment
- Complete the Parent/Caregiver Involvement Information Form
Once all the above items are completed, it will be determined by the staff, if the program is suitable for the individual.
STEP ONE: GREATER EXPECTATIONS
This program has 3 Levels and begins by addressing the following areas:
1. SOCIAL THINKING
- Emotional Regulation
- Building Self-Esteem
- Understanding ASD/DD
- Advocating for Self
- Effective Communication
- Problem Solving
3. ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
- Planning for the Future
- Time Management
- Effective Task Execution/Completion
4. LIFE SKILLS
- Independent Living (managing daily organizational needs; appointments, schedules, etc.)
- Self-Care (hygiene, etc.)
- Home Management (maintaining a comfortable and clean living space)
STEP TWO: CONNECTIONS CLUB
Once established into the Greater Expectations program the individual is integrated into our Connection Club groups. This allows them to apply skills obtained and studied in the Greater Expectations program into real situations with other individuals facing the same challenges. Research states if we have a real experience with another person, this allows the brain to retain the skills and relate it back to a meaningful memory.
The Connections Club groups provide applicable experiences in structured work settings which in turn facilitates meaningful connections. We meet as social groups to further work on the foundations of social thinking, life skills, effective communication, advocacy and organizational skills. These groups are also designed to help individuals build stronger relationships while having the opportunity to engage in enjoyable events.
STEP THREE: AUTISM AVENUE GIFT SHOPPE
Finally, each individual has the opportunity to apply the skills learned in the Greater Expectations program, practiced in Connections Club groups and generalized into a real, public work setting at Autism Avenue Gift Shoppe, as an apprentice.
Autism Avenue is a one of a kind retail shop with a mission to provide a structured work environment that delivers a platform for job training and real world experiences for young adults on the autism spectrum and other developmental differences. Autism Avenue Gift Shoppe is the final step of the multi-level Greater Expectations program.
Autism Avenue seeks to provide an uncommon shopping experience while serving as a stepping stone towards each individual’s life goals beyond the program. Autism Avenue is their opportunity to generalize skills while improving social connections and building self-esteem.
When visiting our shop, you will find a variety of informational books and therapy materials! These items address sensory seeking needs (i.e. chewing, fidgets, calming, etc.) and adaptive feeding materials (i.e. utensils, plates/bowls, cups, etc.). We also carry awareness items such as necklaces, bracelets, lapel pins, t-shirts, etc., for those wanting to promote awareness in the community! Other merchandise found within the shop includes unique gift ideas for birthday gifts, wedding gifts, holiday gift ideas and more!!
At Autism Avenue Gift Shoppe, 100% of each purchase goes back to support the Greater Expectations program!!
2401 West 13th Street North
(Indian Hills Shopping Center)
Wichita, KS 67203