2017 Resource Guide for Adults with Autism in Massachusetts

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Mar 09, 2017 @ 02:38 PM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team  Cynthia Haddad, CFP | John  Nadworny, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP  We are committed to offering educational workshops to organizations and parent  groups.  Please call Alex or click here to attend a workshop or discuss a presentation  to your group.

Workshops Calendar

 

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The Massachusetts Department of Develpmental Services, Northeast Region, has put together a comprehensive guide for adults with autism.  Included are DDS Eligibility, Education, Employment, Housing Resources, Self-Advocacy… and much more!

Download the report here: DDS Northeast Region, Adult Autism Resource Guide, 2017 .

 

Tags: autism

In the News: Employment for People with Autism

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 09, 2015 @ 06:19 PM

 

Microsoft Launches Pilot Program to Hire People With Autism

Excerpt from Mary Ellen Smith, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Operations, Microsoft 

world_autism_dayIn honor of World Autism Awareness Day, Thursday, I had the privilege to attend and speak at an event held at the United Nations in New York City, where the theme was “Autism, The Employment Advantage.”

This theme resonates with me on two levels.

First, as a parent. I am the proud mom of Shawn, now 19, diagnosed with autism when he was four years old. Secondly, as a proud executive at Microsoft. A company that believes strongly in diversity.

This week, we announced another exciting effort, a new pilot program with Specialisterne, focused on hiring people with autism for full-time, Redmond-based Microsoft positions. It’s early days but we’re excited to get going and we know we’ll learn a lot along the way. 

Our effort goes beyond autism. We are passionate about hiring individuals of all disabilities and we believe with them, we can create, support, and build great products and services. Our customers are diverse and we need to be as well.  Candidates interested in our pilot program can email resumes to msautism@microsoft.com

 

From NationSwell:

Meet the Gutsy Dad That Started a Car Wash to Help His Son Find Purpose

Individuals with autism are an advantage for this Florida business.

Most car washes are filled with less-than-enthusiastic workers. But in Parkland, Fla., there’s a place to clean your car where the employees — 80 percent of which are along the autism spectrum — are extremely excited about their daily responsibilities, making the turnover rate is almost non-existent.

Started by the father-and-son team of John and Tom D’Eri, Rising Tide Car Wash gives their son and brother, Andrew, who was identified as an autistic individual at the age of three, and its other employees the chance to lead a fulfilling life.

Before the car wash opened, John was a successful entrepreneur, while Tom, a recent college grad, worked as a consultant. At the time, they lived in the greater New York City area, as did Andrew (who resided with his mother, Donna D’Eri). Andrew was approaching the age of 22, a milestone known in the autism community as “falling off the cliff,” a term derived from the fact that virtually all government support expires when an individual with autism reaches what is typically college-graduate age. Faced with extremely limited employment opportunities, many of these individuals stay at home and begin to regress because they have little in the way of meaningful activities.

The D’Eri family decided that wasn’t going to happen to Andrew. John and Tom formed CanDo Business Ventures in 2011, a nonprofit focused on finding scalable businesses that could employ people with autism. After much research, they identified the car wash industry as a good match for those with autism since they’re more likely to be engaged by detailed, repetitive processes than those not on the spectrum. A car wash also has the advantage of being open to the public, allowing patrons to witness the value of workers on the spectrum.

“It’s a really tangible service,” says Tom. “So, you leave a car wash and you understand if it’s clean, or if it’s not. You’re gonna see, ‘oh wow, these guys did a great job, oh hey, all these guys have autism.’”

In 2012, the entire family moved from New York to the greater Miami area to take over a struggling car wash, and on April 1, 2013, Rising Tide Car Wash opened for business. It’s a for-profit company, financed by the personal assets amassed by John’s earlier business ventures; no federal or state grants or subsidies have been received. Employees are found through community partners, such as the Broward County School District and the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities.

Although altruistic in their mission, the D’Eri family prefers to describe individuals on the spectrum as an untapped resource versus people with a disability. John describes Rising Tide as a “booming success” and speaks of plans to expand to additional locations in the coming years. Currently, Rising Tide employs 35 individuals on the spectrum. With the goal of three locations by 2016, John believes that the company will eventually employ more than 150 individuals with autism.

Andrew and the other employees on the spectrum have grown in confidence and their desire to be social has increased. Plus, they’re now part of a larger community of support.

“We see what Andrew’s life is going to be,” says Tom. “We see that he’s going to have a community that’s going to take care of him. And that takes a whole load of stress off the family.”

 

Tags: autism, autism and employment

A Giant Step Forward for the Autism Community in Massachusetts

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:18 PM


statehouse resized 600Yesterday, the Massachusetts General Court took a huge step forward in the realm of disability rights. The Senate approved S2245, Relative to assisting individuals with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. To read the full text of the bill, click here
.

The bill still needs to be reconciled with the House version to become law.

The highlights of this bill:

  • makes the Special Commission Relative to Autism a permanent oversight body
  • creates special savings and expense accounts to receive tax benefits for expenditures that benefit an individual with a disability (of any kind)
  • expands the mission of DDS to include adults with developmental disabilities
  • encourages cooperation between DDS and DMH to provide mental health services to those with developmental disabilities
  • creates an endorsement in autism to certify teachers who are qualified to assist autistic students
  • extends insurance coverage for autism services to MassHealth (Medicaid)
  • requires the Autism Commission to report on employment and housing opportunities for autistic people in the Commonwealth

Congratulations to all who have taken part in this accomplishment. We anticipate that this bill will have a positive impact on individuals with autism, including those with Asperger Syndrome.

Sources:Asperger's Association of New England, Arc of Massachusetts

Tags: autism, Government Benefits, news and events

Fifteen Tips for Families of People with Autism

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Apr 03, 2014 @ 04:32 PM

Fifteen Tips for Your Family

describe the imagefrom Autism speaks

As a result of her work with many families who deal so gracefully with the challenges of autism, Family Therapist, Kathryn Smerling, Ph.D., offers these five tips for parents, five for siblings and five for extended family members:

5 Tips for Parents


Learn to be the best advocate you can be for your child. Be informed. Take advantage of all the services that are available to you in your community. You will meet practitioners and providers who can educate you and help you. You will gather great strength from the people you meet.

Don't push your feelings away. Talk about them. You may feel both ambivalent and angry. Those are emotions to be expected. It's OK to feel conflicting emotions. Try to direct your anger towards the disorder and not towards your loved ones. When you find yourself arguing with your spouse over an autism related issue, try to remember that this topic is painful for both of you; and be careful not to get mad at each other when it really is the autism that has you so upset and angry.

Try to have some semblance of an adult life. Be careful to not let autism consume every waking hour of your life. Spend quality time with your typically developing children and your spouse, and refrain from constantly talking about autism. Everyone in your family needs support, and to be happy despite the circumstances.

Appreciate the small victories your child may achieve. Love your child and take great pride in each small accomplishment. Focus on what they can do instead of making comparisons with a typically developing child. Love them for who they are rather than what they should be.

Get involved with the Autism community. Don't underestimate the power of “community”. You may be the captain of your team, but you can't do everything yourself. Make friends with other parents who have children with autism. By meeting other parents you will have the support of families who understand your day to day challenges. Getting involved with autism advocacy is empowering and productive. You will be doing something for yourself as well as your child by being proactive.

5 Tips for Brothers & Sisters

Remember that you are not alone! Every family is confronted with life's challenges… and yes, autism is challenging… but, if you look closely, nearly everyone has something difficult to face in their families.

Be proud of your brother or sister. Learn to talk about autism and be open and comfortable describing the disorder to others. If you are comfortable with the topic…they will be comfortable too. If you are embarrassed by your brother or sister, your friends will sense this and it will make it awkward for them. If you talk openly to your friends about autism, they will become comfortable. But, like everyone else, sometimes you will love your brother or sister, and sometimes you will hate them. It's okay to feel your feelings. And, often it's easier when you have a professional counselor to help you understand them – someone special who is here just for you! Love your brother or sister the way they are.

While it is OK to be sad that you have a brother or sister affected by autism it doesn't help to be upset and angry for extended periods of time. Your anger doesn't change the situation; it only makes you unhappier. Remember your Mom and Dad may have those feelings too.

Spend time with your Mom and Dad alone. Doing things together as a family with and without your brother or sister strengthens your family bond. It's OK for you to want alone time. Having a family member with autism can often be very time consuming, and attention grabbing. You need to feel important too. Remember, even if your brother or sister didn't have autism, you would still need alone time with Mom and Dad.

Find an activity you can do with your brother or sister. You will find it rewarding to connect with your brother or sister, even if it is just putting a simple puzzle together. No matter how impaired they may be, doing something together creates a closeness. They will look forward to these shared activities and greet you with a special smile.

Download  our  Sib Tips

5 Tips for Grandparents and Extended Family

Family members have a lot to offer. Each family member is able to offer the things they have learned to do best over time. Ask how you can be helpful to your family.
Your efforts will be appreciated whether it means taking care of the child so that the parents can go out to dinner, or raising money for the special school that helps your family's child. Organize a lunch, a theatre benefit, a carnival, or a card game. It will warm your family's hearts to know that you are pitching in to create support and closeness.

Seek out your own support. If you find yourself having a difficult time accepting and dealing with the fact that your loved one has autism, seek out your own support. Your family may not be able to provide you with that kind of support so you must be considerate and look elsewhere. In this way you can be stronger for them, helping with the many challenges they face.

Be open and honest about the disorder. The more you talk about the matter, the better you will feel. Your friends and family can become your support system…but only if you share your thoughts with them. It may be hard to talk about it at first, but as time goes on it will be easier. In the end your experience with autism will end up teaching you and your family profound life lessons.

Put judgment aside. Consider your family's feelings and be supportive. Respect the decisions they make for their child with autism. They are working very hard to explore and research all options, and are typically coming to well thought out conclusions. Try not to compare children (this goes for typically developing kids as well). Children with autism can be brought up to achieve their personal best.

Learn more about Autism. It affects people of all social and economic standing. There is promising research, with many possibilities for the future. Share that sense of hope with your family while educating yourself about the best ways to help manage this disorder.

Carve out special time for each child. You can enjoy special moments with both typically developing family members and the family member with autism. Yes, they may be different but both children look forward to spending time with you. Children with autism thrive on routines, so find one thing that you can do together that is structured, even if it is simply going to a park for fifteen minutes. If you go to the same park every week, chances are over time that activity will become easier and easier…it just takes time and patience. If you are having a difficult time trying to determine what you can do, ask your family. They will sincerely appreciate the effort that you are making.

Read Paying for Finn, a special needs child , an article from Money Magazine profiling a family with autistic child. John Nadworny applied his 20 years of experience in financial planning and knowledge of the costs  of a child with a disability and walked the Howe family through a process to help them reach their goals.

Tags: autism

News and Events for Individuals with Disabilities

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Feb 06, 2014 @ 06:03 PM

the arc resized 600Housing Bond Bill signed into law by Governor Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick recently signed a housing bond bill (H3727) into law which will authorize $1.4 billion in housing assistance in 11 new line items, and three sets of funding directly relate to people with disabilities:

  • $55M will be allocated to a program of loan guarantees or interest subsidies to assist homeowners with physical disabilities with making home modifications to their primary residence to allow them to live independently in the community. The money will be available on a sliding scale that relates the homeowner’s income and assets to the cost of the modification. Both the MA Commission for the Blind (MCB) and the MA Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) will assist in the development of guidelines for this program.
  • $47M will be allocated to loans for the development of community-based housing or supportive housing foe individuals with intellectual disabilities or mental illness through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Preference will be given to non-profit organizations by prioritizing funds for integrated housing as defined by agencies such as the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Department of Mental Health (DMH), DHCD, and MRC. 10M of the total will be allocated to a pilot program to serve mentally ill homeless individuals.
  • $38M will be loaned out for the development and redevelopment of community-based housing or supportive housing for persons with disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of being institutionalized who are not eligible under the first programmentioned above ($55M). This housing will be developed in conjunction with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and MRC. 
  • To read the full article, click on the Arc logo above.
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From Autism Housing Pathways-
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Autism Eats

 

Come join the first Autism Eats Family Dinner on

February 25, 2014 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm at

Andolini's Restaurant at 19 Essex St. in Andover, MA

Going out to dinner with a family member who has autism can be a stressful event. Behaviors can be unpredictable, other diners may be disturbed and the restaurant staff may not know the best way to service your table.

Autism Eats provides Autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining, socializing and connecting with others who share similar joys and challenges.

Come and enjoy dinner out with your family!

Visit www.AutismEats.org for more information and to purchase tickets for your family buffet dinner

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Sensoryoverload lores resized 600ReelAbilities, the Boston Disability Film Festival-1/30-2/6/2014

 

 The Boston Jewish Film Festival will present the 2nd annual ReelAbilities Boston Disabilities Film Festival, showcasing films about the lives of people with different disabilities from a variety of communities.
The Festival kicks off on Thursday, Jan. 31 at the West Newton Cinema and will continue with presentations through Sunday, Feb. 5 at the West Newton Cinema and other locations in Boston, Springfield, and Hanover.  for further details about the films, click on the illustration above.

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mdsc logo trans resized 600MDSC Annual Conference

Saturday, March 22, 2014

DCU Center, Worcester

Featuring several tracks:

        • General Session Workshops – Parents, family member and professionals will learn from expert speakers about how to help individuals with Down syndrome acquire the necessary skills to lead fuller, healthier, more independent lives.
        • Young Adults Workshops – Young adults with Down syndrome will have an opportunity to network and share experiences, strengthen their self-advocacy skills, and learn about the importance of leading a healthy life and building meaningful relationships. 
        • Brothers and Sisters Workshops – Siblings of people with Down syndrome will hear how other brothers and sisters deal with the joys and challenges inherent in being a sibling. Creates a forum for sharing stories and learning the importance of advocacy.
        • Education Workshops – Educators and parents will learn best practices for educating students with Down syndrome in an inclusive classroom, as well as the benefits of inclusion for all learners.
        • Click on the MDSC logo for further details.
Please contact us for more information.
Contact us

Tags: autism, movies about people with disabilities, news and events for people with disabilities

Our SibTips Ebook and Resources for Siblings

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 @ 01:50 PM

Introducing our Ebook:

SibTips: Vocabulary and Useful Tips for Siblings by Cynthia Haddad, CFP & Alex Nadworny, CFP

describe the imageCindy and Alex would like to share a glossary of terms they learned over their many years of providing Special Needs Financial Planning to families. As siblings, they gathered some helpful tips to share and have included them as a SibTip with their respective term. Cindy and Alex also included a directory of terms classified by our Five Factors of Special Needs Planning. 

Download  our  Sib Tips

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From the Department of Rehabilitation Services and Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind-

Planning for the Future:

Setting Up Lifelong Supports for your Child

Saturday, April 5, 2014  10:00-3:30

  • A parent program on creating lifetime supports for your child. Presented by individuals with expertise in this field (including our Cindy Haddad!).
  • Topics include: guardianship, financial planning, special needs trusts, wills, Medicaid, sibling involvement and social security.
Click here for the informational flyer and registration form.
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describe the imageFrom the Sibling Support Project-

The Sibling Support Project Mission: We believe that disabilities, illness, and mental health issues affect the lives of all family members.  Consequently, we want to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs and to increase parents' and providers' understanding of sibling issues.

Click here to access their list of sibling related books.

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autism3 resized 600

 

For families of individuals with autism, Days of Whine and Rose has a reading list specifically for helping siblings understand autism.  Click here to access the list.

 

 

Tags: autism, siblings

News and Information for Families with Special Needs

Posted by Patricia Manko on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 @ 11:40 AM

Click here to download a full size, printable version with enabled links. 

SNFP Event Calendar Summer2013 PKM v2 resized 600

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, autism, Special Needs Events in MA, siblings

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