Special for Floridian
Tammy Dasher recently spoke to the Optimist Club of Marianna. Dasher is the Next Step Program Director at Endeavor Academy.
Next Step is launched by Jackson County, along with Endeavor Forward Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit organization that supports the development and operations of an Autism Transition, Employment, and Residency Program within an inclusive community.
Next Step aims to prepare people with autism for the transition beyond high school by providing employment and independent living skills training. Skills taught will also include finances, safety, nutrition, community health, etiquette, relationships, transportation, and problem solving.
Once the renovations are complete, Next Step will be located on the Endeavor property, formerly Dozier School for Boys. This is a pilot program. The only other of its kind is found in New Mexico.
The cost of the two-year course is around $2,000 per month and is usually paid for by the families of the person concerned; however, successful completion of the program should open the door to government assistance. Often, when an autistic person graduates from high school, nothing awaits them. Offering these areas of training and developing partnerships with local businesses will help these people live full and more independent lives, which should prove to be a great investment for the future.