DEER PARK, N.Y. - Go on a virtual safari adventure in the zen room, fine-tune your cooking skills in the kitchen, or take part in arts and crafts. These are just some of the options offered to adults on the autism spectrum at ACLD's newest day program.
"I do not believe there's been another new program through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities in the past three to four years," ACLD executive director Rob Ciatto said.
The autism-focused program is dubbed BLUE, which stands for Balance Living Unlimited Exploration. Up to 30 adults take part five days a week in Deer Park in Suffolk County. And the need is dire, according to community advocates.
"When they graduate, they need these types of programs to continue their education, to continue being contributing members of their own communities and give them a purpose in their own life," Ciatto said.
A purpose is what keeps Rose Specht's son Richie moving in the right direction.
"To feel like he's doing the same things people his age are doing, it's tremendous," she said.
Last year, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
"There are over 340,000 people that are diagnosed on the autism spectrum in the state of New York and that number grows every day," Ciatto said.
Other favorites include the technology room with game learning activities and brain stimulation along with the health and fitness center.
"It just feels good to know I'm not sending him off just to fill his day — that he has a purpose and will keep growing and growing to do the things he wants to do," Specht said.
Learning now to hopefully become productive members of society later on.