Academy in Jackson Co. helps adults with autism navigate independent living

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:45 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - NextStep at Endeavor Academy is bringing adults with autism in the region a place to learn about employment, making connections and independence.

“One of the things that we’re doing is bringing hope to families where there wasn’t anything before for students to do when they graduated high school,” Program Director Tammy Dasher said. “Many students, in fact, many parents, they’re kind of left with this prayer of ‘God let me live just one day longer than my child so I know they’re taken care of.’”

After the first week of classes, we’re told the program is going well, and the students will even start working next week, which is one of the goals of the program.

“For my youngest, it’s for him to be able to learn job skills because that’s one thing he’s, you know, lacking, so that he can get a job, and earn his own money, and hopefully be able to live out on his own one day,” mother of two students Syntha Alvarez said.

Syntha’s son Benjamin is a student at the academy. He said he’s excited to go to work.

However, this is only the 12-week program, and is currently meeting at Chipola College until the work at the Endeavor site is done. Then, officials plan for the program to grow.

“The official transition academy is a two-year program,” Dasher said. “There are 32 modules that the students will get. Like, work is something that they get every semester. There are different things like safety, finance, those kind of things, public transportation, those are all the things they learn in the two year period.”

Officials said they even hope to have residences available for the students in the fall, when the full two-year program is set to begin. Until then, Dasher said she hopes to hold several summer programs geared toward different topics.

For topic suggestions, program details or other questions, email Tammy Dasher at TDasher@nextstepatendeavor.org, or visit https://jacksoncountyfl.gov/autism-training/.

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