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Episode #058: How Can I Support Older Autistic Learners- Strategies with Jared Stewart
We focus a lot on therapy for young learners, but what about when they grow up? Support for older autistic learners and adults is so important. In this episode, I interviewed Jared Stewart, autistic adult, professional, and BCBA.
For many, characteristics of autism may not be apparent until life demands exceed their skill set. He shares his experience in the school system, how bullying, and the skill demands affected him. He finished his 7th-grade year with a refusal to return to school and spent the next year doing correspondence school from his bedroom. He began school again at the start of 9th grade with the realization that everything he wanted to do was on the other side of education.
Jared talks about a calendar planner one of his teachers helped him create that really changed the way he managed school, giving him a new sense of control. At that point, he learned that he could learn the systems of success. Creating systems is a really great tool for autistic individuals and with the mastery of these, anyone can learn to do bigger and better things.
From his first-hand experience as a high school student to college student, Jared has excellent insight on the needs for public school support and beyond. Focusing on strengths and building up the confidence of your autistic learners is key to their success as they move from school to the real world. Additionally, helping learners understand their unique challenges and working on them is important too. Masking is a hot topic in the autism world today, Jared shared his take on what he calls authentic masking as an important skill to connect your authentic self with your neurotypical community.
Jared pointed out that we often forget that autism is a developmental delay. As autistic individuals get older, brain development begins to catch up to neurotypicals and they can really do some powerful things. He sees it first hand with his work at the Scenic View Academy, a residential academy in which autistic adults live, work and get paid for their work. The school customizes plans for students that last on average about 2-3 years. In this program, they learn all the skills to function and keep themselves safe in daily life physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually.
This was a great chat about focusing on the transition mindset when preparing autistic learners for beyond public school. Jared is so knowledgeable and passionate about helping others. If you’re interested in the Scenic View Academy you can find out more information online or if you’d like, you can get in touch with Jared who is happy to help in any way he can.
Jared Stewart, M.Ed., BCBA, was named the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers, the 2018 Presenter of the Year by the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs, and the 2020 Hero for Autism by the Autism Resources of Utah County. As a Program Director for Provo Utah’s ScenicView Academy— a transitional school for neurodiverse adults targeting functional independence— he teaches his students to recognize and embrace the strengths of their diagnoses. He is an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University, where he helps run their annual Conference on Autism and assists with the Melisa Nellesen Center’s Passages Program as a life-skills instructor and curriculum developer. In 2016, he was appointed by the governor to the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council and currently serves as the Council Chair. Jared has spent almost two decades working with autistic adolescents and adults, and has shared his views on the techniques and mindsets that lead to improved outcomes for these individuals with many local and national audiences. His passion for the subject arises from personal experience: he has numerous family members on the Spectrum, and he was diagnosed with autism himself as an adult. In his rare free moments, Jared enjoys reading, hiking, writing, and spending time with his wife and three children— and adheres to the belief that there is untapped greatness in everyone, regardless of their so-called “disabilities”.
- Making school more impactful for all learners.
- How to help older students understand their strengths.
- How we can frame how we will support older students.
- How to identify the areas students might need support after school and why.
Mentioned In This Episode
Don’t miss Pyramid Educational Consultants’ Second Annual FUNctional Behavior Conference on April 4th and 5th, 2022! Pyramid’s international team of behavior analysts, and dually certified speech pathologists, led by Andy Bondy and Lori Frost, the developers of PECS, have created all new and expanded content that includes a broad range of practical information related to the field of behavior analysis. Day one will focus on content related to educational programming and program development. Day two of the virtual conference will present information related to behavior analysis and communication. Earn up to 8.0 BACB CEUs including one ethics and one supervision credit when you attend the full virtual conference. To learn more about attending the FUNctional Behavior Conference on April 4th & 5th visit pecsusa.com!
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