How a piano prodigy with autism is navigating college at Boston’s Berklee

The scrawny kid with the squeaky voice and Harry Potter glasses, the jazz prodigy from Sudbury whose feet didn’t reach the piano pedals when he began performing and recording, the autistic grade-schooler who dazzled everybody from Dave Brubeck to David Letterman with his keyboard wizardry, is growing up.

Last month, Matt Savage began his second semester at Berklee College of Music. Before setting foot on campus, Savage, who’ll turn 18 this spring, had already established himself as a rising star, having recorded eight CDs, the latest titled “Hot Ticket: Live in Boston,’’ and played the “Today’’ show, Birdland, Lincoln Center, and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

via How a piano prodigy with autism is navigating a performing career and college at Berklee – The Boston Globe.

Autism: transitioning to college and the real world

I used to envy my friends who had children with learning disabilities and Asperger Syndrome. I watched their sons and daughters move from special education classes to regular classes–some even landed in our school district’s gifted and talented program. My understanding at the time was that since these kids were on the “graduation track”, they would likely go to college, enter the work force and go on to live independently.

I would later learn that academics alone are not enough.”My daughters have the grades and intelligence to get into college,” said my friend, Marnie Raymond. Her twin teenage girls have Asperger Sydrome.”But their underdeveloped social skills, lack of central coherence and poor executive functioning impact their ability to function without a great deal of support.

Now there is an option in the Bay Area for college-age youths with Asperger Syndrome, high-functioning autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other learning differences to help them transition into the real world–The College Internship Program CIPin downtown Berkeley.

via City Brights: Laura Shumaker : Autism: transitioning to college and the real world.

Nat-of-all-Trades: An Autism Job Story

“When our kids have disabilities, on the one hand we believe that fantasy, dreams, and plans are no longer possible,” Susan Senator writes in her September 30, 2009 blog post, “My FaNATasy.”

Susan is a writer and mother to three boys, including Nat, 19, who has autism. She uses her writing talents “to make sense of autism and find a way to my oldest son, and help others with this challenge of autism at the same time.”

via Nat-of-all-Trades: An Autism Job Story- jobs4autism.com.

Organizations seek funds to build group home

BOARDMAN — A 3.2-acre patch of land on Glenwood Avenue could be the future site of a group home for autistic adults if two area nonprofit organizations can raise the money.

The Tri-county Autism Society purchased the land in 2005 for about $22,000, but it needs to raise $300,000 to $400,000 to build the proposed group home, which would house four autistic adults, said Helen Aiello, fund- raising coordinator.

via Organizations seek funds to build group home – Local & Regional News – Vindy.com, The Vindicator.

Thorkil Sonne, CEO and Founder of Specialisterne

After his son Lars was diagnosed with autism in the late 1990s, Thorkil Sonne had an epiphany. Autistics tend to have poor social skills and difficulty responding to stress or changes, which makes finding work a challenge (one study suggests that only 6 percent of autistic adults have full-time employment). But Sonne realized that they also tend to be methodical, possess excellent memories, and show great attention to detail and tolerance for repetition—in other words, they might make excellent software testers.

via Brave Thinkers – The Atlantic (November 2009).

Martial Arts Provides Structure for Young Man with Autism

Thomas Cameron Stuart, a 23-year-old with autism, has earned his brown belt and is on his way to earn his black belt in martial arts. Stuart has had an interest in Japanese culture and found the Tenkobushi Martial Arts studio near his home in California. Stuart’s instructor, Stephen McGovern, has developed a martial arts program specifically for Stuart. McGovern says that the practice of Ninjutsu and swordsmanship provides increased social, emotional, and physical skills for Stuart.

via Autism | Martial Arts Provides Structure for Young Man with Autism | Healing Thresholds | Connecting Community and Science to Heal Autism.

Glimmer Of Hope In Jobs Report For People With Disabilities

For the first time in four months, unemployment among people with disabilities dropped slightly in September, the Labor Department said Friday.

The hint of positive job news comes on the heals of President Barack Obama proclaiming October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Unemployment among people with disabilities fell slightly to 16.2 percent in September, down from a record high of 16.9 percent in August. Meanwhile, unemployment for the rest of the population hit 9.2 percent, down slightly from 9.3 percent in August. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

via Glimmer Of Hope In Jobs Report For People With Disabilities – Disability Scoop.

For the First Time, a Census of Autistic Adults – TIME

Among the many great mysteries of autism is this: Where are all the adults with the disorder? In California, for instance, about 80% of people identified as having an autism spectrum disorder ASD are 18 or under. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection CDC indicate that about 1 in 150 children in the U.S. have autism, but despite the fact that autism is by definition a lifelong condition, the agency doesn’t have any numbers for adults. Neither has anyone else. Until now.

via For the First Time, a Census of Autistic Adults – TIME.

Construction Begins on $50 Million Campus for Autism and Developmental Disability Life Quality

SAN MARCOS, Calif., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ — Marking a new chapter in the realization of life quality for those with autism and other developmental disabilities, the Training, Education & Research Institute TERI, Inc. today officially broke ground on construction for the Charles R. Cono Center for Research & Life Planning. Set on 20 acres in North San Diego County, the $50 million campus will directly address the crisis of a growing and aging population with autism and other developmental disabilities by providing a comprehensive array of services and support programs covering their entire lifespan in a dynamic location.

via Construction Begins on $50 Million Campus for Autism and Developmental Disability Life Quality | Reuters.

Maine condo conversion project gets under way

SOUTH PORTLAND — Construction has started on a commercial building in the Knightville neighborhood that’s being converted to condominiums for adults with developmental disabilities.

The three-story, 6,000-square-foot building on E Street has enough space for nine units, including two for live-in staff members.

Anna Bulger, 21, of Cape Elizabeth plans to live there. Bulger has autism. Her mother, Mary Chris Bulger, said she bought the building to give her daughter a sense of pride and independence.

via Knightville conversion project gets under way | Portland Press Herald.