Local program helps people with autism gain job skills

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Beneficial Beans helps adults with autism gain job skills. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Beneficial Beans helps adults with autism gain job skills. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The farm is full of vegetables and chickens or what she calls the "dress rehearsal" for young adults with autism. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The farm is full of vegetables and chickens or what she calls the "dress rehearsal" for young adults with autism. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The month of April is Autism Awareness Month and during this month Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center celebrates their 20th Anniversary. 

On Sunday morning, Kate Thone, an employee at SARRC, proudly showed off her creation, Beneficial Beans. The farm is full of vegetables and chickens or what she calls the "dress rehearsal" for young adults with autism. Here, 16 young adults with autism practice job skills that will carry them into the real work.

"It's not just about a job. There is so much more. A job is not just a paycheck. You get friends. You build relationships. There's a sense of pride being a productive member of the community," Kate Thone said.

Danny Openden, the president and CEO of SARRC, whose career has put him in the therapy room, says he's proud of the adult programs they've created like Beneficial Beans. 

He adds that every year, 55,000 children with autism turn into official adults with autism, as they turn 18 years old. 

Nationwide, only 10 percent of them gain employment. He's proud to say the numbers at SARRC are a lot higher than that.

He shares with us the success of an infant screening program set to help diagnose autism as early as 12 months.

"This takes the guess work out of it. We are not relying on the parent and we are not relying on the physician to pick up signs and symptoms by making it universal for every child in their practice. We are looking at every child that walks in through the door," Openden said.

The recent addition of Julia, a puppet with autism on Sesame Street, he says, is another way that those with autism are included in social settings starting at young age.

[RELATED: Phoenix woman to puppet Sesame Street's first autistic muppet]

"We've gotten to the point where autism is mainstream, exposed long before they see them (autistic children) in schools and the community," Openden said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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