Towson University graduate student Anna Curtis doesn’t want to wait until she has a diploma in hand to make a difference. While she will graduate from the College of Health Professions in December with a post-baccalaureate degree and an individualized master’s degree in autism in May, she has already identified a need in nearby Carroll County and started Independent of Autism to address it.
“The national statistic is that one in 68 kids has autism,” Curtis said. “In Maryland it is one in 60, so in Maryland alone we have more than the national average. [Children with disabilities] age out when they graduate and get their high school diploma or certificate. All the services they were getting from the state drop off across the board. We didn’t really have much out there for [this transitioning group].”
She said she has been working on the project for almost a year but received 501(c)3 status in January. Since its inception, the organization has served 66 families, and currently provides social groups and social skills training, one-on-one social assistance, life skills and transitioning age assistance.
“I really wanted the individuals we serve to one day be independent of autism,” Curtis said. “They will always carry the autism diagnosis, but we want to see them able to live on their own, have a job, and have plenty of supports in place. It is to help them get into a home on their own and to help them get jobs if they can.”