When Boca Raton resident Michelle Rubin’s autistic son, Scott, turned 18 three years ago, she began researching options for him once he graduated high school. “It dawned on me that I was going to have to start looking around for what was out there for him when he left the school district, and I quickly discovered that there wasn’t really anything,” she says.
Disgruntled with her findings, Michelle founded the nonprofit Autism After 21 in October 2011 with the goal of imbuing adults on the autism spectrum with practical life skills for independent living.
Though the infant organization is still in the development stages, it is already making an impact. In April, it hosted a public symposium at Florida Atlantic University focused on school transition issues and is coordinating a second one for the fall that will cover employment topics. Michelle has been reaching out to employers in the community, asking to train adults with autism, and is looking to offer daytime programs at Autism After 21.
“We would develop a center where you could get continued job training, have a job coach, some recreation opportunities and also ongoing therapies [such as] social speech groups, music therapy and technology training,” she says.
By providing those on the autism spectrum with the necessary tools to succeed, young adults like Scott can share their unique gifts with the world. “He has had a tremendous impact on so many people,” Michelle says. “My other two boys would not be the wonderful, empathetic men that they are without him.”