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Parent Perspectives

Thank You For What You Do And How You Do It

In October of 2018 my son Chris, a 24-year-old with autism, was having significant difficulties at his current day program and he was losing the basic progress he had made in his earlier pre-21 School-based activities. With each passing year Chris was becoming more frustrated with his inability to verbally communicate. This pushed him into boredom, isolation and behavioral issues as he shut down much of his pleasant agreeable personality and his desire to grow as a person. Something needed to change so my wife and I attended an open house at JoyDew where we met Moish, his wife Anat, and the staff.

In the first 15 minutes of the presentation, I could see that the program focused on building avenues of communication and real relationships among its members. As they explained, the members and staff work together as active partners in the pursuit of knowledge, respect and self-worth regardless of developmental hurdles. Communication, whether through typing, facilitated communication, or sign language will allow each member to have a voice. With this ability, Members will make friends, unlock their intellect and train productively for future employment! This sounded just a bit too good to be true and I registered myself with Moish as somewhat skeptical. Moish and Anat, also parents to 2 adult men on the spectrum, understood my feedback and Chris joined the program.

In the 15 months since joining JoyDew my son has indeed changed. The promised communication efforts were delivered on. Chris blogs regularly about topics of interest with fellow members and does regular facilitated communication sessions that result in interesting perspectives. He also does basic signing. Academically, Chris attends all his various classes willingly and can now complete Math exercises well beyond what we thought he could handle. He participates in various pattern recognition job training sessions including prescreening for mammograms. The JoyDew environment has allowed Chris to make social friends. Chris reads better, his behaviors are down significantly and even his verbal communication seems better aligned with what he is trying to say. A recent example: Chris expressed a real desire to play Hockey and has since joined the New Jersey Daredevils special needs instructional hockey team. All the sensory issues with equipment, the loud sounds of an ice arena and the lessons involved to join the competing team are fine with him because he wanted to do it. He has a say in his world and he is more comfortable sharing it.

No longer a skeptic, I can say that I am quite happy with the JoyDew approach and results. The combination of communication skills building, genuine caring for their members, and their own expectations for member progress, has helped my son to move forward in many ways. Thank you for what you do and how you do it.

-Don Drum

I look forward to the progress this program will achieve with him going forward.

What a difference 2 years make!

I am a parent of a 28-year-old autistic son named Matthew. During the past 28 years I have struggled to find my son an appropriate school and adult programs that will maximize his intellectual potential. The journey throughout his adolescent years was rocky but manageable. During this developmental period, my son progressed as expected with his educational development. However, all this changed once he reached the age of 21. At that age I enrolled Matthew in a program that did not challenge his intellectual capacity. I consider this program to have been more of an adult day care program. Often, I would visit to find the class watching a cartoon DVD or doing arts and crafts. These activities consumed the program’s daily schedule. During this phase of Matthew’s life his development stagnated. I was concerned that my wonderful son would never reach his full potential. All this changed 2 years ago when he joined the JoyDew program.

The concept of the JoyDew Adult Autism Program is innovative in its central belief that people on the spectrum continue to improve and flourish even past school age, with the correct training and education. JoyDew is operated by the parents of two adults on the Autism Spectrum who also attend the program. The program is unique in its transparency and communication with parents with a weekly email updates and quarterly meetings. JoyDew sets clear, concise, achievable goals for each member and requires 100% parental involvement with the program. They structure the program to the individual strength of each member. Their goal is to maximize the capacity of each of its members so they may obtain employment in the technical competitive environment of today’s job market. JoyDew offers its members variety of computer training programs as well as radiology, pattern recognition and robotics just to name a few. JoyDew enriches their employment training by its use of professional guest speaker presentations as well as field trips to different employers.

JoyDew’s technique with its ASL clientele is unsurpassed and has resulted in blossoming of my son Matthew. Matthew’s communication has matured to a point that we can, at times, engage substantive meaningful conversations. His intellectual development continues to improve, and he is on track towards achieving his personal and employment goals. Matthew is now what I consider to be more of a well-rounded adult. I am very grateful for all that JoyDew has been able to do for my son and I look forward to the progress this program will achieve with him going forward.

—Shirley Force

We were very happy that Jonathan was accepted into the Program.

When our son (now 30) and we completed our one-hour interview/assessment for possible intake at JoyDew, I was embarrassed for taking up our interviewers’ time. Jonathan appeared to be in his own world, uncomprehending of what was going on, which we expected in a way. It was uncomfortable to sit through, nonetheless.

But right after the interview we were informed that “there is a lot there”. I was wondering if I was in the right interview room. However, we were very happy that Jonathan was accepted into the Program.

Fast-forward two years: Jonathan has demonstrated beyond my wildest dreams his ability to communicate his fascinating internal thoughts through non-verbal communication modes, and revealed that inside and beyond his overtly autistic characteristics there is another, mature personality that has always been there, very aware of his surroundings and heretofore self-educated, and now has new avenues to express himself. When adding to this his demonstrated, single-minded focus on the high-end employment training classes offered at JoyDew, and the amazing empathy he shares with his colleagues during interactive keyboard communications class, I am amazed and grateful.

I know that now, Jonathan has a bright future, and he knows it too. Yes, he has a severe condition, but inside is a very caring, highly intelligent, capable person that I didn’t know existed before his attendance at JoyDew. With Jonathan and his colleagues as examples, there is now overwhelming evidence that the entire autism population is completely misunderstood. It’s clear to me that the 3 million-plus individuals with autism in the U.S. should be “given their chance” as well.

Thanks for all you do, JoyDew!

—Lawrence Lam

Thank you for what you do and how you do it.

Finally, the JoyDew program integrates vocational training with academic and social skills training.

Our 23 year-old autistic son Julian is a participant in JoyDew. For Julian, JoyDew is the bridge to a more independent life as a productive member of society. We explored many options as our son aged out of the school-based safety network. The JoyDew program is unique in at least three respects:

First, it is the one program we found that sought as an integral part of the intake process to identify our son’s strengths and design programs to capitalize on them, rather than just accommodate his weaknesses. For example, the JoyDew team identifies pattern recognition as one of Julian’s strengths. This led them to engage him in training programs in that took advantage of these talents, such as reading mammograms and identifying financial fraud.

Second, the JoyDew program focuses on jobs that have potential for growth in the 21st century. The program trained our son in job areas such as medical imaging, cybersecurity, robotics, videography and financial forensics. These tasks play off skills in the autistic population in pattern recognition, visual discrimination and persistence. They also lend themselves to work arrangements in which autistic adults telecommute from autistic friendly work environments. JoyDew seeks to provide such environments to its members by serving as an outsource of their work product to end users. In this regard, JoyDew is creatively applying technological developments that facilitate more flexible working arrangements for the benefit of autistic adults.

Finally, the JoyDew program integrates vocational training with academic and social skills training. The program puts an emphasis on communication skills, with programs in narrative and blogging. Julian, who writes more fluidly than he speaks, particularly enjoyed contributing to the JoyDew blog. The program also emphasizes team building, which not only addresses the social challenges autistic adults face but also mirrors broader trends in the modern workforce.

We see the impact of these unique aspects of the JoyDew program every day in our son’s reaction. He is eager to leave for the program in the morning. He returns bright-eyed and energized in the afternoon, ready to focus on his remaining activities, whether therapy, tutoring or sports. As Julian put it, “JoyDew makes me think”. JoyDew’s recognition that its members are capable of sophisticated thought and able to participate in the workforce at a high level is perhaps its greatest contribution to the autistic community.

—Allan Reiss

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