What’s Available for Students with Autism After High School Graduation:local Mom Worries

What’s Available for Students with Autism After High School Graduation:local Mom Worries

Every parent worries about their child’s future after graduation but for parents of those with autism, concerns are compounded by the need for extra support.

On Sunday AJ Parker Morrison will cross the stage getting a diploma at Joplin high’s graduation.

His mom, Tonya Parker said, “We want him to live the dream like anybody else, to move out, get a job, to be productive.”

But now that school is out AJ, who has autism, hangs out at Easter Seals working on an art project. Getting into programs like this takes qualifying for funding first.

Parker said, “A lot of the programs, in addition to the funding issue, are already full.”

Easter Seals Autism Services Manager Tracy Taylor said, “It’s not like they graduate and boom they go into services. You know, it usually takes a lot of paperwork, patience, and a lot of time.”

But it is possible. Easter Seals offers employment training along with behavioral training. And Community Support Services has staff than can accompany someone to the job site.

Community Support Services President and CEO Jhan Hurn said, “We have a number of individuals working in grocery stores, restaurants, they’re working in factories. They’re doing activities that any other individual does. They may need more help in the beginning in providing those supports in helping them along and we have staff that do that.”

It can be something as simple as getting to and from a job site. Community Support Services offers transportation or will teach an individual how to use the Trolley. All support system s to help individuals be part of the community.

Cory Wilson who graduates Joplin high next year was trained in fixing computers and plans to work at Easter Seals he understands AJ’s dreams.

Wilson said, “They have the capacity to feel. And if they’re not

in the community, they feel shut up like I did whenever I was in special ed classes wondering what’s going on out there and how I can’t act like everyone else does.”

And Taylor added, “Just because they graduate, doesn’t mean they’re ready for employment. But, I think in time most people with autism are employable.”

AJ is ready to try. And his mom is working with Connections Case Management to find programs to help him reach his goals of getting a job and living independently.