Making the Transition
Photography provided by The Children's Home of Cincinnati
When Amanda Tipkemper began working with teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum at The Children’s Home of Cincinnati in 2012, she was struck by the responses from parents when she asked about their children’s futures.
“Most had settled on their kids living with them for the rest of their lives,” says Tipkemper, the Autism Services manager for The Children’s Home. “They didn’t picture them having full-time jobs or being able to live on their own. It was troubling to me that they had set such a low bar.”
Tipkemper soon recognized that the parents’ visions for their children’s futures were dependent on the services available to help them transition to an independent adulthood. Too often, students finished school – often without a diploma – without the skills necessary to transition to independence.
The Children’s Home realized the opportunity to change those low expectations by providing a greater continuum of specialized services and family support. In August, its Autism Services division will move to a new location at 4550 Red Bank Road, allowing The Children’s Home to offer all its autism programs under one roof. Autism Services currently operates within seven spaces in four buildings, including four classrooms at the Eustis building on its Madison Road campus.
Here are the four programs The Children’s Home will offer this fall as part of its Autism Services portfolio for teens and young adults who haven’t reached their 22nd birthday.
- The High School for Students with Autism and Related Disorders offers credit toward a high school diploma. Students considered mild-to-moderate on the autism spectrum are eligible to enroll, and should be able to work in a 1:4 teacher-student ratio. Class sizes are limited to 8-10 students, and a class day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each day’s schedule consists of academic and artistic instruction, speech and occupational therapy and social and life skills programming with an emphasis on job and college readiness.
- Ready Set Work! is a four-week program to prepare young people ages 14-21 to develop job readiness skills and work toward independence.
- The Ready 2 Work! summer program is open to high school graduates and provides a 10-week paid internship that provides hands-on job experience with business partners such as Greenacres, US Bank and Contemporary Cabinetry.
- In 2017, The Children’s Home added Transition to Adulthood as a school-year transitional program for young adults who have met their educational requirements, but have deferred earning a high school diploma. The Children’s Home added it in 2016.
As part of a future expansion, The Children’s Home hopes to offer an Integrated Treatment Classroom (ITC). The ITC will provide comprehensive mental health treatment and individualized education planning to students in grades 7-12 who have a co-occurring diagnosis of mood disorders, trauma disorders, conduct and impulse control disorders or ADHD, among other diagnoses.
She says having such services on-site will prevent disruption for students who would normally have to leave school to see a therapist and return to school again that day, or cut their school day short.
Tipkemper says the expansion of The Children’s Home’s autism services reflects a greater awareness of the need for support for older children and young adults with autism and increased diagnoses of youth on the autism spectrum. The Children’s Home served nine such students in 2011, but had 51 at the start of the 2016-17 school year. It expects to enroll 77 this fall.
“We’re on the cusp of so many new developments,” she says. “The wave of diagnoses has brought a larger number of students into our high schools and we have the opportunity to be leaders in providing services to teens and young adults.”
Facts about Autism
• More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.
• Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region or socio-economic status. Since autism was first diagnosed in the U.S., the incidence has climbed to an alarming 1 in 68 children in the country.
• 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Approximately 67 million people worldwide are affected by autism.
• While the cause of autism is unknown, it is treatable and not a hopeless condition.
• It has been established that if adults with autism do not find employment after their educational training, they have a 70 percent chance of not being gainfully employed throughout their life (Rebuck, 2006).
The Children’s Home of Cincinnati is located at 5050 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45227. For more information, call 513.272.2800 or visit www.thechildrenshomecinti.org.