Autism Resources

What is autism spectrum disorder?

Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. For others, symptoms may be more severe, as when repetitive behaviors and lack of spoken language interfere with everyday life. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum.

What is being done to assist this growing population?

At Cape Abilities, we believe in the potential of each and every individual we serve, no matter what their challenges. We are committed to constantly creating a diverse array of opportunities that ensure that everyone can have meaningful involvement in the Cape Cod community and their local neighborhoods.  We accomplish this by providing appropriate supports tailored to individual needs that assist each person to meet personal goals for employment, participation in the community through their volunteerism and recreation and a host of other activities.

We currently support more than 90 individuals on the autism spectrum and this number continues to increase.  As a result, we have enhanced and expanded our clinical supports and also offer specialized staff training in this area so that we can provide programs that are suited to the needs of this population and ensure that everyone we serve can be successful in the pursuit of their individual interests and participate fully in the community.

Autism spectrum disorders have increased dramatically in recent years, a trend that is expected to continue.   In the next decade, more than 500,000 children with autism will reach adulthood – losing the services provided by schools up to age 22. This transition time, dubbed the “service cliff” by parents and professionals, can be extremely difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

As we eagerly pursue the highest quality of services and supports for individuals and their families affected by autism spectrum disorder, we continue to invest in the professional training of our direct care staff to help them accommodate the talents of each individual they serve.

  • To help eliminate the “service cliff”, a grant from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has helped us initiate a Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program to provide disabled school age youth real life job experiences that will ease their transition from high school into adult services
  • 12 members of our direct care staff have received Registered Behavior Technician™ certification training to help them develop and implement targeted strategies designed to assist and meet the specific needs and goals of individuals on the autism spectrum
  • Our recent collaboration with Endicott College provided Master’s Degree-level training in Applied Behavior Analysis to qualified members of our direct car staff. This will help meet the critical need of assisting the growing number of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Cape Cod community

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Help Us Spread The Word For Those Who Need It Most!

This year, Cape Abilities continues its partnership with F.O.R.W.A.R.D. (Friends Or Relatives With Autism and Related Disabilities) to present a free ALEC Training Program! (Autism & Law Enforcement  Educational Coalition)

Yarmouth Police Station, One Brad Erickson Way, Yarmouth

This Is An Important Safety Training For Families, Caregivers, and First Responders Serving Individuals with Special Needs.

Bill Cannata, a former firefighter and Statewide Project Coordinator of the ALEC program, will share “best practices” that police, fire and all emergency personnel in your communities are learning to help you manage crisis situations with individuals with Autism and related developmental disabilities.

Don’t miss this critically important event! Please contact Peggy Boskey at pboskey@capeabilities.org or call 508-778-5040 x812 for the details!

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Click on the link below to hear a special segment of Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Sunday Journal public service program, which originally aired in 2015 and focused on ALEC training for first responders when assisting families with special needs children.

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Resources:  For Everyone

Below find some helpful links for support Services:

Support:  For the Care Giver

Q: How do you take a break?

A (everyone): Hiking, pets, yoga, dogs, walking, meditating, social life, date night, paint/art night (*something this group should explore together!), volunteering, religion/spiritual life, courses, entertainment, exercise. Note: People in the room has various challenges for caring for their loved ones while they take care of themselves. Ideas shared and more to come.

Q: How do you exercise your emotions?

A: Journaling, connect with others, self nurture, saying NO (don’t stretch yourself too thin).

Q: Who is your circle of support?

A: Friends, others “who get it”, family, counselors, church family, school, doctors and nurses (*look at wellness services through your insurance)

Supports can be challenging, expensive and even unsafe. As someone pointed out,  it’s not like we can ask the neighbors kids down the street to come over and babysit. Our children, and adult children, often need specialized care. This is a very important issue that needs to be discussed with, and championed by, providers and legislators.

Thought on ‘Change’: Especially with the holidays, any change in routine can be daunting. Sometimes we over compensate by giving 200% of our time and efforts to make things perfect because our kids or family members deserve it. Then reeling it back in can be challenging. “We always do this at Christmas”, “You always decorate the tree this way”, “We always go to (fill in the blank) this time of year”.  Suggestions include:

  • Practice Spontaneous Activities with explanations and assurances. In some ways it may even be a bit more like “planned” spontaneous events.
  • Practice saying “no” by acknowledging how your loved one feels but hold the line on your decision.
  • Present new ideas in their terms. Be patient and let them know things will be ok…and hold the line.
  • Over time, the old routines will be less of an issue and you are teaching coping skills to your loved ones.

Technology

Some of the steps Cape Abilities is currently taking to provide augmented services to participants in our Life Skills programs include hi tech/low tech applications such as:

  • Apps – for our Touch Screen technology  will consist of Art, Menu Planning, Hygiene, Basic Budget, and some FUN!
  • Smartboards – for individual and group participation, promoting interactive learning
  • iPads – to put the power of technology into individual hands
  • Group board games
  • Light boards for sensory learning