Timmy Boyce

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

Navigating Adulthood With Autism: The Value Of Independence

March 12, 2018 - 1:00 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Caring for a young person with autism can be difficult, but what happens when those young people become adults, and what is the impact on caregivers? 

As part of a three-part series on the challenges facing adults with autism and their families, WCBS Newsradio 880 Reporter Marla Diamond takes a look at places to turn for help, spending time with the community at QSAC, Quality Services for the Autism Community, an organization that services New York City and Long Island.

Elizabeth Cassese, whose adult son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, said the QSAC program that helps train and place participants in jobs has been “invaluable." She tells Diamond that her 31-year-old son Nicholas “travels independently and has developed all these skills” that allow him to engage in the community.

Diamond also met Timmy Boyce, who spoke proudly about “travel train” skills that have taught him to take the subway to work and school.

"I went to school, college. I take the 7 Train," he said.

Autistm is a developmental disability that affects the normal development of the brain but it doesn't affect life expectency. At QSAC, the emphasis with students like Boyce is focused on life skills.

Lisa Veglia is Chief Executive Officer of QSAC in New York and tells WCBS 880, “We want to keep people at all levels on the spectrum engaged in the community and doing activities and teaching them skills that they need to do that."

On the day we visited QSAC recently, they were preparing to send a group of students to Party City in the Bronx to learn employment and social skills.

Veglia told us, “I do feel that society at large has a better understanding of autism today, so I’m hoping that as time goes on that there will be more sensitivity and more understanding that that’s just how that person is -- but they can still add to the value of an organization; a corporation."

One corporation doing its part to support the efforts of organizations like QSAC is AT&T. The New York-based company has helped QSAC launch a STEM education initiative to provide adults with autism valuable tools that the company says will “foster the development of tech-related skills."