With close to 200,000 people with autism who need quality residential supports, (Larson et al, 2018) NEXT for AUTISM recognizes the importance of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) and is committed to retention and quality training for these professionals. The current community living options for adults with autism needs to be revamped to reflect best practices. Given funding and support constraints, it has been difficult to promote positive change and ensure a high-quality life for the individuals living in these community-based homes.
NEXT for AUTISM has partnered with The Arc Westchester 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.
Interested in learning more? Contact us