June is the month to celebrate graduates and honor fathers. This month, NEXT for AUTISM is celebrating a group of bright, young adults who are graduating from our Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement employment training program at NY-Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains. After ten months of job skills training and internships, our graduates are setting off for new opportunities.   Before they go we asked them to share a few sentiments about their dads with us. Parenting a child with autism requires strength, grace and often, sheer determination.  Yet these efforts are continually rewarding for the father as well as the child, as you’ll see below.  In thanks to all fathers and father-figures with children on the autism spectrum, we wish you a Happy Father’s Day!

Angela*: “He is the best Dad in the world. I like going out to eat at TGI Fridays [with him].  It’s one of my favorite things to do. I went to see my favorite celebrity Sabrina Carpenter with him a few times.

[I wish him] the best Father’s Day ever.  I want him to know how much he means to me.”

Patrick*:  He is tall, no hair, strong with muscles, funny, nice. He is a good dad because he spends time with me.  He works in the hospital as an electrician. [I’ve visited him] sometimes. Dad, Love you.  [You are] smart.

Chris*:  I watch soccer with him at times. [I wish him] to have the best day.

Rounds*: We are both “car enthusiasts.” And [we go] grocery shopping together.

Jack*: He is a good man with flaws, but what human doesn’t have flaws?

We talk, walk, and other activities like skiing, swimming.  [What I like to do most with him] is watch or talk about books and movies. [What I like most about him is] his willingness to go the extra mile.

Rick*: We went to Comic Con in NYC as Indiana Jones & Henry Jones Sr. We watch movies, go driving, go to restaurants, go to Dad’s office.  He works on the computer.

Castor*: He’s a man who’s a hard worker with a big heart.  I have gone to work several times with him in the past. He has to dedicate a lot of time to his job due to his role in the workplace.

The fondest memory I have of me and my Dad was when we took an outing to see a concert, just me and him.

Adam*: He is very caring about my health.  He is a software engineer. I went to Israel with my dad on vacation recently.  [For Father’s Day] I will treat him to go out to have lunch.

George*: Sometimes he shouts at the TV, and so I tell him: “The TV can’t hear you. It doesn’t have ears!”

I like to help him around the house. He trained me with some good skills, such as painting the house and painting the fence.  He likes to get his work done.  He works as a teacher and goes to children’s homes. I visited my Dad’s workplace before. His work is good.  I will wish him a Happy Father’s Day!

Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement is an employment training package that provides high-quality training to young adults with autism to prepare them for meaningful employment. PSAE is based on the Project SEARCH model and enhanced with teaching principles and assessment strategies developed specifically for the autism population by NEXT for AUTISM and TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina.  The package comes with the support of Project SEARCH, NEXT for AUTISM curriculum specialist, and has been adopted by institutions such as Drexel University, University of Washington, University of California Davis and the Y.A.L.E. School, with more partners to come.   Graduates featured in this article participated in the PS-AE NEXT for AUTISM program at NY Presbyterian hospital that is run by our partner, The Arc Westchester.  For more information, please visit www.nextforautism.org.