Employment, Transportation, Recreation
"The RCAAS program represents a unique innovation that holds extraordinary potential to serve as a national model for the housing and support of individuals with autism. The location and integration of this program within a broader University context affords special opportunities for the intellectual and social growth and development of those served as well research opportunities for University faculty."
William Waldman, CSWM
Professor of Professional Practice, School of Social Work
Former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services
Jobs That Matter
Experts say the best gauge of whether an individual with autism can maintain autonomy is determining whether he or she can secure and maintain a paid job. Benefiting from Rutgers’ on-campus resources - from bookstores and libraries to offices, dining halls, sports facilities, and an operational farm - participants will work with a team of vocational experts to find jobs that match their unique interests and strengths. The center will tap into Rutgers’ vast network of facilities to find jobs for participants through job sampling and matching that align with who they are, what they like to do, and where their talents lie.
Before their first day, participants will receive prevocational training in a new building designed and customized with that purpose in mind. Once they’re on the job, oversight and assistance can take the shape of one-on-one accompaniment to the job site for each shift, or it could simply mean checking in every so often. It is a model that is completely guided by the needs of the individual.
Time for Recreation
The center will create an environment in which adults with ASD can enjoy full participation and inclusion in campus life, and that includes recreation. Whether through formal programming or independent exploring, participants will have full access to all Rutgers has to offer, from amenities like gyms, tennis courts, and pools to sporting events, stage performances, and dining. Clinical staff will be available for one-on-one supervision, convening a small group to attend an event together, or providing minimal guidance, as dictated by individual need.
The university’s host cities and towns offer additional shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Close proximity to New Brunswick’s train station provides easy access for family visits, as well as outings to Manhattan or other parts of New Jersey.
In existing models, effective life skills education does not exist much beyond the teenage years. But most adults with ASD can continue to improve on established life skills and also learn new ones. At the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, staff will approach this area as an ongoing learning opportunity. Residents who need it will have support in learning to cook, clean, develop social and hygiene skills, budget, and complete chores independently or as part of a group.
Indeed, skill levels among participants will vary. The center’s model is that each resident is supported to the extent needed, so the focus always remains on an individualized approach to completing daily tasks independently, or interdependently, with staff.