In eastern Ontario, a little place called the Owl Cafe is bringing some much needed services to the local area in a surprising way. The goal of Owl Cafe is to give young people with autism a chance to shine and grow. Not only will they learn important coping mechanism and skills while working, but they will also gain more access to support services that can help them get ahead and learn self-sufficiency.
“It’s coffee with a purpose,” explains Suzanne Ford, direct of autism services at the cafe, in an interview with CBC Canada. The Cafe has only been open for two months, but already it’s been able to employ several young people with autism. Right now, the cafe is self-sufficient with no help from the government, running on both coffee sales as well as community generosity.
It’s no surprise that parents are concerned about the opportunities their children with autism will have once they grow up. Within two years of graduating high school, less than 50% of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder have a job — the lowest rate of any disabled group.
Help for Children with Autism: Your Options
The needs of every child are different, and options should be discussed thoroughly with the child’s doctor. In many cases, though, attending a school for autism can help children learn the skills and independence they need to navigate through adult life. Special education schools are often uniquely qualified to deal with kids who may otherwise languish in the public education system. Early intervention has been shown to be helpful for autistic children to gain social, communication, and self-care skills.
An estimated one in 50 children are now diagnosed with some form of autism, according to the CDC, so understanding how to enable these individuals to be successful adults is a challenge that isn’t going away anytime soon. Luckily, there is help for children with autism and more options are available every day — whether it’s a supportive part time job for young adults, or a caring educational system in the form of a special needs school.