Adults living with autism now have a chance to be independent thanks to a new program at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
One of those people is Braden Gertz.
Braden is a 24-year-old man with Autism. He is also a student at Ohio State and a swimming instructor. What makes Braden unique is that he lives on his own and teaches children with Autism, just like him. “I take down the chairs, clean up the table, set out the cups, and I set up some snack,” Gertz explains.
In just a week, he will have seven new students starting his class at OSU's Nisonger Center. He makes up lesson plans and sets up activities all on his own.
Dr. Christopher Hanks at Ohio State knows Braden is a success story and wants to see more successes. That is why the hospital recently opened the Center for Autism Services and Transition, also known as CAST.
Dr. Hanks says most autism programs focus on children. “As the parent ages - what's my child going to do?” Hanks said. “Can they live alone? Can they have a job? What's going to keep them busy during the day?”
That’s where the CAST program comes in to help autistic children transition to adulthood.
“We also have social workers, we have people helping with care coordination, we have other services there to find everything available for them and make sure they can succeed as much as possible,” Hanks said.
It is important for people like Braden to live independently, because his family lives in Akron. This new program will help him and kids alike do that.
The number of adults with spectrum disorder is expected to rise by nearly 700% within the next 16 years.