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Project Focus helps students with autism work toward the future

Credit: KGUN, Tucson, AZ
Published 1 week ago - Duration: 03:18s
A program helps students with autism find their focus.
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Project Focus helps students with autism work toward the future

UNDERSTANDING AUTISM -- BYPROFILING A UNIQUE PROGRAM ATTHE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA.NINE ON YOUR SIDE'S PAT PARRISSHOWS US THE SUCCESSFUL POST-SECONDARY PROGRAM "PROJECTFOCUS."UNDERSTANDING AUTISM OPENKEYBOARD TYPING SOUND ANDREWDON IS A STUDENT AT THEUNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA -- DOINGAN INTERNSHIP AT THE STEWARDOBSERVATORY BUSINESS OFFICE.ANDREW IS ALSO A STUDENT WITHAUTISM.

HE'S PART OF ANINNOVATIVE TWO- YEARTRANSITION PROGRAM FOR YOUNGADULTS -- WITH INTELLECTUALAND DEVELOPMENTALDISABILITIES.

"OUR PROGRAMREALLY IS FOUNDED ON WHAT DOOTHER COLLEGE STUDENTS DO.

THESAME IS UPHELD FOR OURSTUDENTS WITH AUTISM AND OTHERDISABILITIES.

THEY HAVE THOSESAME TYPE OF DREAMS ANDGOALS." THEY INCLUDE LEARNINGON COLLEGE CAMPUS -- WITH THEEND GOAL OF FINDING A JOBTHEY'RE EXCITED ABOUT.STUDENTS WITH AUTISM --CONTINUING THEIR EDUCATION ATTHE U OF A -- WAS UNHEARD OF10 YEARS AGO WHEN STEPHANIEMACFARLAND STARTED THE PROGRAM-- THANKS TO A FEDERAL GRANT-- AND A PARTNERSHIP WITHTUCSON UNIFIED.

"THE HARDESTPART WAS GETTING THEINFORMATION OUT THERE SO THATFAMILIES AND TEACHERS KNEWABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY.BECAUSE THEY NEVER ENVISIONEDIT FOR THEIR STUDENTS." THEPROGRAM IS THRIVING NOW --WITH 18 STUDENTS ON CAMPUS --6 WITH AUTISM.

BESIDESCLASSROOM WORK -- THE STUDENTSMAIN EMPHASIS IS WORKING --BOTH ON CAPUS AND INBUSINESSES ACROSS TUCSON.THAT'S WHERE CARRIE HOLLMANCOMES IN -- AS THE CAREEROUTREACH SPECIALIST.

"WE LOOKAT THEIR INTERESTS, WHAT THEIRCAREER GOALS ARE, WHAT THEIREXPERIENCE HAS BEEN IN THEPAST.

WE USE THAT TO KIND OFGUIDE THE FRAMEWORK THAT WECREATE TO SUPPORT THEM."HOLLMAN SAYS THE CHALLENGESHER STUDENTS WITH AUTISM FACEIN THIS PROGRAM -- ARE REALLYNO DIFFERENT THAT ANY OTHERCOLLEGE STUDENT WHO WORKSWHILE GOING THROUGH SCHOOL."WHEN YOU LOOK AT ANYONE WHO'S18 TO 22 STARTING WORK,SOMETIMES IT'S THEIR VERYFIRST JOB, SOMETIMES IT'S THEFIRST TIME THAT THEY'RE IN ANENVIRONMENT THAT A TEACHER ORA PARENT ISN'T DIRECTINGEVERYTHING.

IT'S KIND OF ALLOF THE STUDENT-WORKER ISSUESTHAT ARE PRETTY TYPICAL ON ACOLLEGE CAMPUS." STUDENTMENTORS PLAY A KEY ROLE INHELPING THE STUDENTS INTEGRATEINTO THE COLLEGE COMMUNITY --AND ON THEIR JOB SITE.

"THEPEER MENTORS ARE REALLY OURBOOTS ON THE GROUND." THEY AREOFTEN SIDE BY SIDE WITH THEIRFELLOW STUDENTS -- HELPINGTHEM TO BECOME VALUABLEMEMBERS OF A TEAM AT THEIRWORK.

MENTORS HAVE HELPEDJESUS GARAVITO -- EXCELL ATHIS JOB IN THE LIBRARY.HOLLMAN SAYS SHE SEES THOSESTUDENTS REALLY GROW.

"YOUREALLY SEE THEIR SPONTANEOUSCONVERSATION SKILLS GROWIMMENSELY.

THEY'RE HAVING TOINTERACT WITH ALL DIFFERENTKINDS OF PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.YOU ALSO SEE THEIR PROBLEMSOLVING SKILLS START TODEVELOPE." "INDIVIDUALS WITHAUTISM, THAT SOCIALINTERACTION AND COMMUNICATIONIS VITAL FOR SUCCESS.

THAT'SONE OF OUR PRIORITIES."STEWARD OBSERVATORY'S BUSINESSOFFICE HAS BEEN SO PLEASEDWITH THE WORK BEING DONE BYANDREW -- THEY WANT HIM TOSTAY ON AND WORK AFTER HEGRADUATES.

ANOTHER SUCCESSSTORY FOR PROJECT FOCUS.WE'LL HAVE A QUICK RECAP OFTODAY'S COVID-19 HEADLINES

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