The student project analyzed in this discussion is the New Beginnings Program for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), implementing and providing opportunities for social engagement, community support, and professional help to a vulnerable population in order to improve quality of life and achieve stability. The autism rate in the US is at 1.7% which indicates a 15% increase over two years (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2018). The number of autism diagnoses in children is rising, and over the next decade as these children transition into adulthood, there is little support available outside of educational institutions.
The program strength is the consideration that adults with ASD often struggle with quality of life, health, employment, and social aspects, and begin developing a system for the future that is sustainable and effective at providing support. Another strength that can be attributed is the focus on community and inter-organizational collaboration, as the program seeks to advocate for disability-related policies and greater recognition of adults with ASD. The program also attempts to create a foundation for providing academic guidance, vocational and life skills, and self-management to achieve a maximum level of independence for adults with ASD that typically rely on family help to function.
One significant limitation in the program is that there is no clear path regarding how funding will be acquired for the extensive costs outlined in the budget plan and other program descriptors. While the program will be non-profit, starting costs need to be considered and there needs to be greater structure to financial planning. Another limitation, or rather aspect of the program which needs further development, is its three-tier inner structure. It offers some collaboration and divides responsibility, but there is a necessity to foster greater cooperation.
This program design was chosen initially as it is efficient in providing the essential services, which will expand as the program grows. Furthermore, the structure suggests that the program director will choose the physical environment based on certain needs. It is a limitation to not have a set location in place for the program since a facility address will allow to better market the program as well as position it in accessible distance from residential areas.
It has not been addressed due to need to gather information regarding potential clients and determine the size of the building needed from there. Additionally, the program is focused primarily on education and employment, which are vital aspects, but should also include social elements, offer psychological support, and engage in advocacy for adults with ASD. Despite being aware of these limitations, the program cannot implement or address all of the aspects at its early stages, focusing on the essential services. As the program grows and reforms, these minor setbacks can be resolved. It can be a limitation for a non-profit to emphasize statistical figures such as employment or educational attainment, as it will result in a less human approach to supporting adults with ASD.
Directions of Growing
There are several directions where the New Beginnings Program can grow and improve. As mentioned earlier, there are elements of therapy which can be added with certified counselors. As the organization expands, it can engage in greater advocacy among the public and with the government for support, using its knowledge and human resources to create meaningful change. The program can begin working with schools and its special education classes, to establish connections with students in early years of high school to ensure a smooth transition into adulthood so that the individual has a greater awareness of their possibilities post-graduation.
Improved interaction with the community can be beneficial, both in terms of creating a healthy and supportive neighborhood environment for ASD persons, but also help in terms of fundraising as well. The organization can publish educational and supportive materials digitally and print to help those in need in areas where the program is not available. Overall the purpose and mission of the program are broad, allowing it to address various aspects of support for the selected population.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2018). U.S. autism rate up 15 percent over two-year period: Researchers say racial and ethnic disparities are narrowing. ScienceDaily. Web.