It's a somewhat hidden place, the Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center -- a cozy brick building nestled in Wakefield, tucked inside a peaceful, tree-shaded neighborhood. It's a central hub where individuals gather before going on a daily adventure with Perspectives Corporation's Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) -- trusted friends who put all their effort into making every moment an exceptional one. And this October, it was the place that these DSPs attended two trainings hosted by The Autism Project (TAP).
Originally called The Rhode Island Autism Project, this non-profit organization started in 1997 as a community of parents, special educators, and therapists who sought more information, resources, and funded programs for children on the Autism spectrum and their loved ones. Since then, they have expanded to gain more government support and funding for these programs, and remain a powerful ally for children and parents across the state. Executive Director Joanne G. Quinn notes that "TAP has been doing these trainings for more than 20 years," and that its founders were working in public schools before coming together to create this organized effort.
"They made it their mission to get the information [on the Autism spectrum] out to everyone who asked, everyone who needed it," says Quinn. "[TAP] has grown over the years, and the information is updated with each presentation to reflect current best practices."
Committed to Doing Whatever It Takes
Their duties on the job are to ensure individuals' happiness, safety, and access to the community, as well as supporting them in building life skills.
Two trainings took place at the Memorial Center, from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. on October 18th and 25th. TAP Director of Programs Cheryl Cotter served as the instructor on the first training, and for the second training, Lead Consultant and Trainer Cristen Sassi taught with Quinn. On both occasions, eager DSPs were given all manner of tools to better understand and support individuals on the Autism spectrum -- from printed PowerPoint note slides to engaging games that highlight the difference between everyone's experiences.
The atmosphere was an intimate and gentle one -- full of smiles and fun while playing games, full of personal experiences and memories that connected everyone in a shared love and fondness for the individuals in their lives. The DSPs in attendance said it themselves -- their duties on the job are to ensure individuals' happiness, safety, and access to the community, as well as supporting them in building life skills. Every DSP in that room was there to learn the most current information and skills to bring back to individuals supported by Perspectives Corporation; they're committed to doing whatever it takes to make each day shine.
The trainings' combination of hands-on learning and organized, engaging lecture was a balance that brought incredibly valuable insight on the way individuals on the Autism spectrum experience the world. And because of the care these instructors took in explaining and demonstrating the material, anyone -- whether previously educated on the subject or just learning about it for the first time -- could walk away with a richer understanding of the diverse minds that make up our society, as well as the skills and understanding necessary to create a more accommodating and integrated society. Their enthusiasm teaching about the Autism spectrum, their confidence in their knowledge, and their willingness to provide resources speak to the heart of TAP as an organization.
A great thank you to TAP for hosting these trainings and being such a wonderful advocate for children on the Autism spectrum, and to Perspectives DSPs, who never miss an opportunity to expand on their knowledge and make a difference in individuals' lives!