If a son isn’t saying “mama” like other babies, if a father discovers his child hates being touched, if a mother has to stop walking with her child to the store for fear he’ll melt down in a tantrum on the floor every time, and if a teacher telephones to say their daughter won’t stop darting her tongue in and out, disrupting the class, then parents know something’s terribly wrong. And when someone says these are the signs of “autism”, they start to feel absolute terror.
For many years ACAP (The Academy of Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis) has dedicated its nonprofit work providing mental health resources to the most vulnerable members of our community. In keeping with this mission we are beginning a new endeavor, iStrive. This program will enable young adults on the autism spectrum to develop interpersonal and occupational skills that can lead to opportunities for a new stream of competent, reliable, and responsible employees for companies like yours.
Let us tell you about the why this project is so needed. Over the past 35 years we’ve met many children on the autism spectrum, and we’ve gotten to know their parents, too. More than two and a half percent of all the children born in New Jersey are now being diagnosed with autism. Their mothers and fathers once expected their babies to grow up, go to college, have a job and eventually become independent adults. But they usually abandon these dreams, and replace them with the rare determination we’ve witnessed. It takes that and unflinching commitment to care for their child whose unexpected, consuming maturational needs make tackling everyday tasks a marathon challenge. We know that when offered the opportunity to participate as productive employees, and with the sustained back up of a program like iStrive, these individuals shine. They become among the most valued core staff with their eagerness to get a job done correctly, their contagious enthusiasm about the organization, and their loyalty.
Here’s the iStrive plan. On Saturday mornings at 9 AM, iStrive will begin as staff welcomes our young adults, to ACAP in Livingston N.J. At ACAP they will experience stress management and mindfulness activities, receive emotional literacy assistance, and yoga. They will spend time on incorporating both interpersonal and pragmatic practices of successful job-hunting, and the professionalism at work that will help them thrive. And importantly, they’ll have a chance to make friends with each other. As these young adults grow they have the same needs all of us have for interpersonal connections and friendships. iStrive will help them achieve this.
During each week iStrive parents will be invited to join us in their own space here at ACAP. They will get a much-needed opportunity to hear talks, attend seminars, and share what they’ve learned. iStrive works with families as a collaborative community to help us develop a meaningful, evolving program.
“Being a parent of someone with unique needs, I can tell you the best source of information is other parents, ” a mother told us. “I want to be surrounded by people who are realistic, but hopeful. ”
Our other essential partners in this exciting growth project are you, and all the community of corporations who will benefit in many ways, tangible and intangible, from an inclusive approach such as iStrive’s adding a new class of reliable, creative, productive workers to you workforce. And we will be with you. Our commitment includes working with you and your employees to help introduce and build awareness of this new advance, and to provide back up to insure all goes smoothly.
Can we count on you to be a corporate donor for this special program? As one, you will, of course, get great visibility at the event, both live and in our publication, as well as in the news media. Leadership donors will receive special presence on our website, too.
Several corporate leaders, such as yourself, have told us of their ability to sponsor iStrive independent of the event, or foundation grants. Simple seed money to support this much-needed program is available to them. We consider these Leadership Gifts from community trailblazers and philanthropists. They can range from a few thousand dollars to truly substantial gifts supporting the ongoing sustainability of the program. To monetize the idea, consider that it takes a minimum of $5,000/year to support one young adult at iStrive. How many would you be willing to sponsor? Please consider how much value your donation brings to our emerging young adults and their families, and to you in the community as sponsors of this important cause.
With great appreciation for what we know will be a powerful community collaboration. Click here for more information about becoming an iStrive sponsor.