New Program for Adults with Autism Offered Through HeartShare

Dec. 14, 2006 – Partnering with Autistic CiTizens (PACT), a program for young adults with autism has made its home in downtown Brooklyn in the heart of the borough’s business district. Sponsored by HeartShare Human Services of New York, the PACT program is designed to increase the participant’s involvement in the community through skill-building, volunteering and recreational activities.

“HeartShare’s PACT Program was developed directly in response to the needs of families with young adults transitioning from school age to adult programs. Families in Brooklyn had no day programs specifically targeted to adults with autism, so they turned to HeartShare and collaborated with us in designing a program that truly meets the needs of their sons and daughters,” notes Linda Tempel Executive Vice President of Developmental Disabilities Services with HeartShare.

Elizabeth Poploskie, the PACT Program Coordinator who also has a Master’s degree in special education, notes that “The program fosters the natural talents and abilities of the participants, thereby enhancing their lives.” Staff members work with PACT participants on their communication skills by utilizing picture symbols to illustrate their daily schedules and to communicate their needs and wants. They also work on learning and communication activities through specialized computer software and computers that have been adapted for easy use.

The 11 program participants are very active within the local Brooklyn community as HeartShare maintains partnerships with local businesses and non-profit organizations. Participants volunteer, giving back to their communities and learning new skills that may eventually translate into real employment opportunities. Physical activities, such as exercising at the gym and going bowling, are also a part of daily activities.

For HeartShare, having the opportunity to implement a program suggested by parents is very gratifying. Tempel also notes that, “It has been a wonderful experience to have the families partner with us in such a significant way, and HeartShare is honored to have the opportunity to work with their children in becoming more independent and skilled adults.” HeartShare hopes PACT will grow each year, adding more program participants and serving a larger number of adults with autism within the Brooklyn community. For more information on HeartShare Human Services of New York visit www.heartshare.org. Questions regarding the PACT program can be directed to Elizabeth Poploskie at (718) 797-2020 or elizabeth.poploskie@heartshare.org.

Celebrating its 92nd year, HeartShare is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that assists more than 17,000 New Yorkers. Its wide spectrum of services helps individuals with developmental disabilities, supports people affected by HIV/AIDS, provides counseling and after-school programs and assistance with foster care and adoption to children and families, and administers energy assistance programs.

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