In 2012, IEA opened its Adult Life Skills Program (ALSP), approved by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, to provide support and educational services to adults with autism. At IEA, we know that continuity of services is extremely important and adults with autism who remain in our program will need ongoing support and skill development. Individuals with autism can be gainfully employed and demonstrate enormous competence in the workplace, in community activities, and in their homes with continued programming for success. As students graduate from our Education Program, if they need continued support and educational opportunities, they move into our ALSP.
In the ALSP, the importance of developing a program that meets the individual needs of the adult learner is critical. As adult learners enter the program, IEA assesses the skill repertoire of each adult learner along with his/her interests and preferences and builds an individualized educational program that allows the adult learner to continue to grow and learn, to have age-appropriate opportunities and experiences in the community, as well as to find paid employment outside of IEA whenever possible.
A Behavior Analytic Approach:
Systematic intervention procedures, based on a wide range of scientifically validated applied behavior analytic teaching techniques, are employed to ensure the development of new skill repertoires that give the adult that competitive advantage in vocational settings and ensure community and home-based experiences appropriate for adults. Direct measurement of learner progress continues and objective data are collected and analyzed to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of all teaching procedures. Through this analysis, IEA staff are able to ensure rapid, and consistent, skill acquisition by the adult learners.
Supportive Instruction Through Strong Staff-Learner Ratios:
Adults in the ALSP continue to have access to high levels of support to ensure their ongoing success. Adult learners also, however, have higher levels of independence and opportunities to work under those conditions. IEA continues to provide support to learners within our building, in the community, and especially at job sites by maintaining a 1:2 Staff-Learner Ratio. Life Skills Coaches provided varying levels of support to the adult learners at different times to ensure that each adult is able to successfully enjoy his/her daily experiences and continue to learn the skills necessary to complete tasks and interact with peers and colleagues.
Skill Areas Addressed at IEA:
The top priority for our adult learners is success in competitive work environments. As such, we continue to address a wide range of critical skill domains for the adult learners in the program. These areas include developing language and social skills necessary for adult interaction, teaching pre-vocational and vocational skills to ensure marketability of the adult learner, and providing teaching and experiences to ensure the acquisition of wider and more age-appropriate leisure activities. Teaching continues to focus on developing independence in all areas of home living and daily living to prepare the adult learners to the highest level of independent living and self advocacy possible.
The Learning Environment:
For the adult learners, teaching occurs primarily in the community, at their job sites, and within the IEA building. We know the critical importance of providing teaching under naturalistic conditions to ensure the development of the most functional and useful skill set by the adult learners.
Our Professional Staff:
All staff supporting the adult learners hold a BA degree and receive specialized training in Applied Behavior Analysis. The staff are professional, ethical, and extremely dedicated to ensuring successful life, vocational, and leisure activities for the adult learners. The staff work collectively across job sites and IEA environments to ensure consistent and continuous services under all conditions. The team of professionals supporting the adult learners are passionate about successful outcomes for the learners and ensure both their success and enjoyment under all conditions.
Who We Serve and How We are Funded:
IEA’s ALSP is approved by the Division of Developmental Disabilities to provide services to adults with autism. IEA provides services as dictated by the service plan for each adult learner and is funded accordingly. IEA is also committed to fundraising for all costs that are not covered by the contracted services to ensure that all adult learners have access to the highest level of skilled, professional staff and necessary resources to ensure the highest positive outcomes possible.