by Alex Corbett
The Lippman Autism Center opened this month in Brentwood, the latest project by MERS/Goodwill. The program began in August 2012 and recently received a $5,000 grant from the Autism Speaks Family Services Chapter to purchase iPads for the new center. Devices like iPads can be very useful for individuals on the autistic spectrum, as they tend to be very visually oriented. Jen Glassmeyer, coordinator of Autism Services with MERS/Goodwill, says that the apps are amazingly helpful. “They can create social stories to teach lessons, break things down step-by-step, or even tell the teacher that they are standing too close or talking too much,” Glassmeyer says. The iPads also make operations a little greener by reducing paper waste, and provide the ability to email information to individuals to keep organized and keep a constant flow of communication going.
The Lippman Center is intended as a resource for individuals across the autism spectrum. The programs there provide support for people of high school age and older who are seeking employment opportunities. They do everything from teaching individuals what sort of behavior is appropriate in the workplace, to actual job placement. “The program helps to find jobs that are a good fit for each individual,” Glassmeyer says, “and support is provided through job coaching and a retention service.”
The Lippman Center also provides a space in which individuals on the spectrum can meet and socialize, which is an important skill to have in most jobs. There is a place for workshops to be taught, a leisure room, art therapy, a Wii and a parental advisory board for parents who want to be involved but who don’t want to hinder their children’s independence. The center is focused on independent living and has classes to build skills like cooking and proper sanitation.
The Lippman Center for Autism is the first of its kind in the St. Louis area, Glassmeyer says, but they are popping up all over the US. “There are so many resources for children with autism,” Glassmeyer says. “But these kids aren’t going to be kids forever. Adults need support, as well.”
The MERS/Goodwill Lippman Center for Autism is located at 2545 S. Hanley Road, Brentwood MO, 63144. For more info, call 314.647.7453.