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Autism Spectrum Disorder Transition Program receives $19K in MN State funds

The Autism Spectrum Disorder Transition Program, a partnership between Autism Friendly Austin and Riverland Community College, has received $19,000 in Minnesota State funds.

The program kicks off this fall and is designed to serve high school graduates from Southeastern Minnesota identified with ASD who meet enrollment requirements at Riverland Community College. It is geared towards helping ASD students complete an Associates Degree, attain a certificate in a career and technical education (CTE) program, and receive training/education for a specific trade or career.

Support services will be provided by a Student Success Team (peer mentors, interns, Riverland and Autism Friendly Austin staff) to 20-25 program participants.

The COVID-19 pandemic and staffing challenges delayed the funding award; however, efforts are currently underway to recruit students for the program in order to execute the program during the 2021-22 school year. Implementation will be directed by Director of Advocacy Services Dr. Penny Rosenthal and Community Autism Resource Specialist Mary Barinka.

An informational meeting on the program will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 11, at the Hormel Historic Home.

The newly funded program is an extension of the Autism Friendly Austin initiative, which aims to improve opportunities and outcomes for the autistic population in Southeastern Minnesota. It aligns well with respective missions of the Austin Assurance Scholarship program, Workforce Development, Inc., Austin Aspires, and Riverland Community College.