Autism Speaks: College Internship Program – (Autism/Aspergers)

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I was so excited to hear about this program (CIP-College Internship Program)! Someone very close to me shared this information from the Autism Speaks website. She has been instrumental in helping me understand about Autism and being on the spectrum.     Anyone with a loved one that has specific learning differences or has been diagnosed with disorders on the Autism spectrum, knows the unique challenges it presents. Parents often wrestle with understanding how to best meet the needs of these children and resources are often very limited.

I’m obviously a big supporter of education. I believe we have to identify the gaps in our educational system in order for all of us to be more successful. Despite the fact that approximately 1 out of 68 children now fall on the autism spectrum, there seems to be so few programs that specialize in helping them become productive independent adults. I would even dare say that in many instances, we in this nation spend more money on non violent criminals than on college prep and occupational programs for law abiding citizens with learning differences. The more help we can provide to these young people the better.

I’m glad that there is now greater awareness on this issue and that this program exists. The cost of the program is extremely high but, in the spirit of true economics, my hope is that once more and more programs like this become more popular perhaps the costs will be driven down. In the meantime I will follow up with FAFSA to see if something like this may be covered. I will report my findings back here on the blog in a couple weeks. Also the Autism Speaks website has some information on grant opportunities and the vocational rehab offices in many areas can provide some assistance as well. Please share any information regarding Educational and Career Opportunities that would help these young people to become productive, independent adults.

College Internship Program

Notable Celebrities with autistic children include: Holly Robinson-Peete, Toni Braxton, and Jenny McCarthy

Holly Robinson Peete

Toni Braxton

Autism Live

CNN Link

Entrepreneurship is a career choice too!


Kidpreneurs: Product Zollipops

I recently had an opportunity to work with several younger kids and teach them about entrepreneurship.  It was actually an Entrepreneur Camp.  The students were from all different backgrounds and the majority of them were in middle school.  Each one of their quirky personalities made me laugh and realize that you cannot take life too seriously.

When the program ended I reflected on that experience and how we need to better prepare ourselves and our children for the future.  I truly believe that each one of those kids are capable of being successful.  The question is, are we as adults/parents grooming them to be successful?

These kids came from every walk of life but, there was a common thread among them.  The students who knew this was an Entrepreneur Camp came ready to learn, while the students who didn’t know what the camp was about initially struggled to understand why they were even there.  The good news is that no matter what their starting point was they were all intelligent and resilient kids that were eventually able to grasp the concepts and successfully complete the class.  These kids were able to jump in and with a little assistance they got the hang of things.  Unfortunately it’s not so easy when they are older.

As I sit back and think about it, this very experience represents how we often push our kids towards the traditional college mold without much direction.  That’s what we’ve been taught.  It’s the next logical step if you want a good job.  Right? Well consider the fact that more than 1/3 of the kids that go off to college drop out after their 1st or 2nd year.  Oftentimes the kids headed off to college don’t have a clue and they like the middle school kids above struggle to figure out why they are there.  The difference is that there is now a huge price tag involved and lack of preparation can be like placing a chain around them because of the excessive debt they face.

Not every kid is going to have a 4.0 gpa and attend Harvard but, everyone has something to offer. Let’s expose our kids to lots of different options.  Entrepreneurship is another option for students and parents to consider.  If a kid has a trade or certain licenses, they can start their own practice or work as an independent contractor and possibly make even more money than someone with a traditional college degree.  The traditional path is not for everyone.  With entrepreneurship a kid can create a job opportunity for themselves and others as well.

As adults/parents let’s celebrate the differences in our children and expose them to various career options even during middle school.  In the process we might find that not only are they headed in a different direction, but we could inspire them, encourage them empower them and save a lot of money in the process.

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