There are more than 5.4 million adults with autism in the United States (CDC). Many autistic adults benefit from the support of a Direct Support Professional (DSP), to provide guidance and mentorship. DSPs provide support in both community and individual settings.
NEXT for AUTISM has developed a professional development curriculum specifically for DSPs, NEXT for DSP, to provide training and support, specific to their work with autistic adults. The curriculum is a model grounded in best practices and developed especially for the most crucial members of the services delivery system--DSPs. The program provides professional support for DSPs while simultaneously creating an improved outcome for the people they work with.
NEXT for AUTISM has partnered with The Arc Westchester and The Arc Palm Beach to pilot a professional learning model focusing on components of choice, belonging, healthy living, and life-long learning.
NEXT for Direct Support Professionals is a model grounded in best practices, committed to systems change, focused on training the most crucial members of the services delivery system – the DSP. These professionals have a unique opportunity to build a rewarding career, supporting adults with autism and other developmental disabilities to lead full, independent lives and gain access to the same opportunities and experiences as people without disabilities, yet, these professionals are not adequately supported currently, nor are their career aspirations encouraged. NEXT for DSP addresses these concerns, focusing on training these professionals and promoting real career paths.
NEXT for DSP has four foundational components: Choice, Belonging, Healthy Living, and Life-long Learning. These professionals develop skill repertoires through classroom instruction, mentoring on the job, and observation and feedback sessions. This valuable training enables autistic individuals to make supported decisions and have greater control over their lives. NEXT for DSP implementation encourages a sense of belonging for autistic individuals and facilitates connections and relationships within the community. In addition to promoting healthy lifestyle practices, this unique learning model increases independence across the lifespan.
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