The mission of ACRES is to provide programs that match the passions and skills of adults with autism to meaningful living and working opportunities that will make them strong contributors to our community.
Adults with autism 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. Although 61% of adults with autism want to hold a job, 85% are unemployed, even with a college degree. This is the lowest employment rate of any disability group. And although 78% of adults with autism wish to live independently, 90% rely on a parent or guardian or lack independent living options. The ACRES Project is working to create those options.
Services provided by ACRES include:
By providing a positive and supportive environment, ACRES encourages and develops the passions and strengths of its participants into meaningful employment opportunities.
Acres Artisans is an independent small craft business owned and operated by adults with autism.The ACRES Project offers support to each entrepreneur by providing mentorship, physical workspace, and initial supplies. Employees of Acres Artisans create professional embroidery and dye sublimation, customized drinkware, and creative, handcrafted soaps. Their products are sold directly to customers, at local markets, and the Acres Artisans online marketplace, www.acresartisans.com. Acres Artisans provides adults with autism with a source of income, an opportunity to form lifelong career skills, and the ability to share the fruits of their talents with the greater community.
The ACRES Project is 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 to develop self-advocacy skills and participate in paid work experiences at local businesses, with the assistance of a job coach as needed. The goal is to help adults gain much-needed confidence as they develop the skills needed to obtain and maintain competitive, integrated employment.
Aquaponics is an innovative farming method that compliments the skill set of those on the spectrum. Within this system, fish and plants grow in harmony. Aquaponics not only grows sustainable food items, but encourages job training skills as well leadership initiatives. Our aquaponics greenhouse is an approved Vocational Training Program for Pennsylvania's OVR and allows participants to earn a wage and develop career skills though data entry, fish care, planting/harvesting, chemistry, and sales.
Although autism can make socialization difficult, most individuals with autism have a desire to connect with others. Connecting adults with each other through natural socialization and recreational events helps to foster communication as well as self-learning.
Our Wednesday night social group, campus group for PSU students, and other events provide adults on the autism spectrum with the opportunity to make new friends, strengthen social skills, and create meaningful interpersonal relationships with others.
ACRES strives to encourage and develop the passions and strengths of its participants so that they have the skills to become strong contributors to our community. Participating in autism outreach initiatives, hosting community open houses, and selling goods and produce at local markets help integrate our adults into the community and members of the community into the ACRES Project.