Snapshot: Autism Institute Receives Funds Toward New Certificate Program

The presentation of the D.R.E.A.M. Partnership grant at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute. Pictured from left, (back) N. John Dinardo, PhD, Drexel’s senior vice provost for Academic Affairs; Paul Shattuck, PhD, leader of the Life Course Outcomes research program of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute; Craig Newschaffer, PhD, founding director of the Institute; (front) Sherri Landis, executive director of the D.R.E.A.M. Partnership; Amy Edwards, EdD, research associate in Life Course Outcomes.

Last week, the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute received $60,000 to help create a new, non-credit certificate program designed to make the transition out of high school easier for those with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder.

The D.R.E.A.M. Partnership’s executive director, Sherri Landis, presented the check Friday afternoon to Institute leadership, including founding director, Craig Newschaffer, PhD, and Paul Shattuck, PhD, leader of the Life Course Outcomes research program.

Founded by parents and professionals in Central Pennsylvania looking to improve upon the limited post-high school options for people with intellectual disabilities, the D.R.E.A.M. Partnership strives to create relationships with a network of colleges across Pennsylvania.

Friday’s grant was another concrete step toward that.

The certificate program will provide a unique opportunity for young people with both intellectual disability and autism. Recent research by the Life Course Outcomes program found that the transition out of high school leaves roughly a third of young people on the spectrum disconnected, never holding a job or attending further schooling.

As a part of the new program, set for a potential pilot run in late 2017, students in this program will audit courses alongside matriculated undergraduate students at Drexel University and participate in internships.

This will become part of a growing collection of innovative program models, called Transition Pathways, that other universities and communities could replicate. The team at the Institute is expanding the range of opportunities for success in postsecondary education, employment and community living for those on the autism spectrum.

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