All Kinds of News for April 08, 2020
EDGE Advance opened its doors last September (2019) to provide a therapeutic transitional living program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and other learning disabilities. As with its sister program, EDGE Learning & Wellness Collegiate Community, one of EDGE Advance’s major components is providing social skill development and opportunities for social engagement. And then the world turned upside down, in the wake of the coronavirus disease. A commonly held belief about this population is that these individuals do not want to have friends, do not feel emotions and lack empathy, and thus would not be greatly impacted by the new social order of “social distancing” (autismspeaks.org). This notion could not be further from the truth. Rather, it is the lack of sophisticated social skills that oftentimes leads to rejection by peers, psychological distress and social isolation creating lifelong difficulties (researchautism.org).
At EDGE, being mindful of the students’ increased anxiety and their preference for a familiar structure, the team of professionals have been extremely creative in continuing to provide opportunities for social engagement as well as independent life skills, career and academic development, all while navigating the unknown territory of this current pandemic. Regularly scheduled activities such as book club, improv, cooking/nutrition, mental health round tables, financial literacy, mindfulness and physical activity have seamlessly moved to an online mode, where not only current and alumni EDGE students are welcome, but other neurodiverse individuals are welcome to join. The EDGE team has also identified, accessed and joined additional online communities for other activities that enrich the students’ lives.
EDGE students have taken to these changes surprisingly well. With an ever-shifting collegiate landscape, as well as decreased internships, volunteer and work opportunities, these creative activities provide not only meaning to the students’ day and lessen anxieties, but are also invaluable opportunities to practice the very life skills they came to EDGE for in the first place. While many of these changes may appear to be a response to the current circumstances, the EDGE Leadership team believes that many of the current program modifications will continue into the future - responding to the need for sustained social connection, beyond the physical space that we are all so used to, and many miss so dearly, right now.
EDGE Advance is a transitional program for neurodiverse (Autism Spectrum Disorders - ASD, learning disabled) young adults, located in Chicago, IL. Utilizing a clinically integrated coaching model, the goal of EDGE Advance is to create a path for emerging young adults to develop the habits and skills necessary to lead autonomous lives of purpose.