What We Do

ACRES is working to foster lifelong social, vocational, and educational opportunities by and for autistic and neurodivergent people.

Our programs focus on three pillars of support to help individuals build a firm foundation for a healthy, productive life.

The Three Pillars



Why This Pillar?
Although neurodivergent adults have a lot to offer, they often have difficulty finding, keeping, and achieving success on the job. Impairments in social skills and organizational abilities leave many of these adults without employment, or working at jobs they cannot sustain. The unemployment rate for adults with autism is estimated to be 85%, by far the highest of any demographic.

What We're Doing
Starting in high school, the ACRES Project offers advocacy, work readiness, and independent living skills instruction. On the job experience with the guidance of a mentor is the next step allowing the student to solidify a set of skills necessary for employment. ACRES continues these services for adults in their search for employment in the community. By providing a positive and supportive environment, ACRES encourages and develops the skills and strengths of participants into meaningful opportunities for employment.

  • We are an approved provider of Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) and work readiness training through Pennsylvania's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). These OVR programs allow individuals with disabilities to develop self-advocacy skills and participate in paid work experiences at local businesses, with the assistance of a job coach as needed.
  • Our in-house entrepreneurial program ACRES Artisans offers opportunity to those looking to exercise their creativity and get real-world business experience by making and selling handmade goods online and at local craft fairs.
  • Aquaponics is an innovative indoor farming method that often compliments the skills of neurodivergent individuals. Our on-site aquaponics greenhouse allows participants to develop career skills though data entry, fish care, planting/harvesting, chemistry, and sales.

Social Reach

Social banner

Why This Pillar?
Having a healthy network of social relationships is critical for maintaining physical and mental well-being, and neurodivergent adults are no exception. But because autism, anxiety, and other neurodivergent conditions can make socializing a challenge, many autistic and neurodivergent people struggle with loneliness and isolation, even though they have a desire to connect with others.

What We're Doing

The ACRES Project does not force socialization, but provides opportunities for people to connect in safe spaces. ACRES hosts regular social opportunities for neurodiverse people to connect with each other and their community. Most of our social activities are led by and for neurodivergent participants themselves.

  • Every other Wednesday evening, we host a casual social group by and for neurodivergent adults.
  • We have partnered with Penn State’s Student Disability Resources office to create Finding Community,” a peer support group for Penn State students that meets weekly in the Student Disability Resource Center at Penn State University Park. This group is run by neurodiverse Penn State students and provides a safe, casual space for students to meet and interact with one another. 
  • We have utilized the popular chat room app Discord to create a “Neurodiversity PSU” server in order to provide another avenue for Penn State students to access peer support and opportunities to share passions, concerns and advice.
  • Our summer gardening groups grow seasonal plants to sell to the community.
  • Barbecues and special dinners teach social skills, cooking, and promote healthy habits to individuals at high risk of disordered eating. 
  • Special events such as holiday parties, fundraisers, and open houses promote socialization and community connection.
  • Our Sensory Friendly Centre County program provides free sensory comfort bags to local venues and public places to make these spaces more accessible to people with a sensory processing disorder.


Science u

Why This Pillar?
After leaving high school, individuals with autism and other neurodivergent conditions are no longer eligible for support services they may have received from the school system. The sudden end of supports can feel like falling off of a "services cliff." Helping individuals and their families learn about themselves, their goals, and their future options before, during, and after this transition period sets them up for success in adulthood.

What We're Doing

  • Through Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), we are able deliver self-advocacy, work readiness, and independent living skills programs to students in Centre County high schools.
  • ACRES strives to assist individuals that do not qualify for OVR services when our budget allows.
  • Transition planning is offered to individuals that have left high school and need support to figure out their next step.
  • Communication skills are taught through ACRES for on the job communication and teamwork.
  • On-site aquaponics courses are designed to educate individuals on the maintenance of our aquaponic system’s mechanics, chemistry, sustainable crop rotations, and problem solving.

  • After school groups and summer programs for neurodiverse teens provide opportunities for communication skills, cooking classes, learning, and team building.