Education

The Inclusion Center Provides Transition and Training for Autistic Young Adults

fbd352079d80afba0f74_IMG_8062.jpg
Russ Yellin and Audrey Weiner Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
5f65f1a07fadc520a303_IMG_8064.jpg
The Inclusion Center - a young adult community Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
bcc9d46fc5ca3f28b8e1_IMG_8056.JPG
The music room Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
870e0b7678d1ba675726_91ba5cb246909413d1f6_IMG_8057.JPG
31150cd6db25b4c76ab2_96056b62247d4c3e8501_IMG_8058.JPG
3-D copiers for use by participants. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
90b847d8894ba3a2684a_4682d456feebb6d12a22_IMG_8059.JPG
East Brunswick students are already familiar with these laptop computer carts. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
4c268dfa5b7ddb28994c_77b1dd7bdc710e173f5e_IMG_8055.JPG
Colorful, inspiration artwork fills the environment Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
d9b2fecce000cb8dfe7a_IMG_8060.JPG
The music room awaits. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
b228bda3fe36273696f7_bb91bd884323122a1969_IMG_8061.JPG
C'mon. Everyone loves air hockey. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
fbd352079d80afba0f74_IMG_8062.jpg

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Autistic students in the East Brunswick have the benefit of an expansive program of services and support both within the school system and from community resources.  What happens, though, to those young adults who "age out" or graduate from high schools and still require direction and training?  The Inclusion Center of East Brunswick may provide the link that supports the transition from school life to adult life for young people with autism.

The Inclusion Center, located at 415 Route 18 South near the Vitamin Center, is the brainchild of Ross Yellin.  The center will provide activities aimed at socialization and training for those who require help as they gain both job skills and personal independence.  Yellin is the creator of Disability Allies, that connects young adults and teenagers with and without disabilities in a positive environment that supports positivity and focused training.  The group has partnered with county-wide educational outlets including the Future Teachers Association at Rutgers.

"Parents need to be pro-active, " said Yellin, when describing the planning for young people after high school.  He described the difficulty that some autistic people have with making friends and communicating with others when they are no longer in a structured educational setting.  "The program at the Inclusion Center," he noted, "is directed at "higher-functioning individuals who do want to go into a day program.  They are not comfortable with that.  We want to facilitate an environment where people can interact."  He noted that some autistic people do not have the skills to create their own friendships and suggested that a location that offered opportunities to develop and exercise these skills would be invaluable to young adults who are seeking some measure of independence and growth.

Sign Up for E-News

Sign Up for E-News

 

The Inclusion Center features a variety of chances for participants to develop their skills, including some contemporary high-tech formats.  There are 3-D printers, banks of laptop computers, a music room for learning and performance, an instructional kitchen facility, and a main room for relaxing, socializing, and teaching. 

The goal of the Inclusion Center is, in Yellin's words, "to get away from the us versus them mentality." The Center is also an employer that provides training in how to interact with people with disabilities and creating a climate of "give and take." 

Audrey Weiner likened the experience the Center is trying to promote as similar to that shared by East Brunswick students who have participated in the middle-school trips to Fairview Camp.  "What you should get out of this are lasting, binding friendships for the rest of your lives."  Weiner noted that she had been President of the East Brunswick Special Education Parent-Teachers Association (SEPTA) for seven years. 

She also expressed appreciation for the support of Mayor Brad Cohen and the township administration, who attended the opening of the Inclusion Center on April 28:  "He makes it his business to get everywhere he can."   Weiner sees the center as a "community coming together."  She has been reaching out to local schools in East Brunswick, Spotswood, and South River.

Weiner described the situation faced by autistic people when they graduate high school.  "They get a support coordinator and a budget which is tiered by their level of disability.  They use the money to get support and use the available services to their best advantage. The Inclusion Center could be a place that a person's family chooses to provide those services to young adults who are highly functional."

Ross Yellin, a 2008 graduate of East Brunswick High School who later attended Ramapo College, has Tourette's Syndrome, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder (OCD)  and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)  "I had a tough time in school and was sometimes thrown out of class.  What held me back was myself.  I was trying to fit in.  I became a class clown which made it worse. I never explained my situation to anyone or advocated for myself."

Yellin said that his situation changed when he became involved with the American Association for People with Disabilities while a student at Ramapo College.  "I traveled to Washington where I spent two months with people with all sorts of disabilities.  We developed a strong bond and told each other our stories  I learned how people help each other.  Everybody in the program was open and advocated for themselves.  There were support and awareness groups and pride parades."

"Why can't I be like that?" Yellin wondered.  "There are two paths a disabled person can take.  One is that of pity and fear and the other involves embracing your disability."  He went on to create a club at Ramapo called the Disability Caucus that promoted the idea of the disabled helping each other. He worked with a bright student with autism who was "pigeonholed into jobs below his level."  The student went on to advocate for himself, asking for more complex tasks and getting greater opportunities.

Yellin created Disability Allies two and a half years ago in a desire to work with individual on a one-to-one basis, pairing individuals with buddies/mentors.  About a year ago, he asked himself, "Why don't we have a place?"

Yellin worked to create the Inclusion Center which would provide fun, structured activities.  Events and classes will be held starting on Saturdays, then moving to weekdays.  Long term, Yellen hopes to create an national organization that helps people to transition with more hope and joy.  "It is my purpose in life," he said.

Since the opening, the Inclusion Center has hosted meeetings for parents and teachers to inform them both about the program and to educate them about what happens to an autistic person when he or she exits the school system.  On June 7 from 6-9 pm, the Inclusion Center will host a workshop regarding "Transition Services" in which they will discuss their offerings and provide guidance for families.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

Diegnan, Pinkin and Karabinchak Highlight State Support for Dismal Swamp with Environmental and Local Leaders

June 4, 2018

EDISON, NJ - State Sen. Patrick Diegnan, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, and Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak were recently joined by local elected officials and environmental groups in hailing a $200,000 state appropriation championed by the 18th district legislators to complete the scope of work needed by “Dismal Swamp Preservation Act” to survey the boundaries and properly enact the ...

East Brunswick Republican Chair Jesal Amin Announces Dhar Khona to Join Council Ticket

June 15, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ- Newly elected Republican Municipal Chairman Jesal Amin announced today that Dharmendra “Dhar” Khona will join the Republican ticket for Township Council in East Brunswick.  Khona will replace Tom Szaro on the ticket, who had to step aside for personal reasons. The remaining candidates on the ticket are Councilwoman Camille Clark and former school board ...

EBPL Open on Summer Sundays

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—Due to an increase in demand of library usage, East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center Drive) is extending Sunday hours throughout July.

The library plans on using the additional hours to host more library programming and provide services to the community, including passports, access to the computer lab and EB Create makerspace, and ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

Girl Scout Seeks Donations of Craft Items Tomorrow

June 6, 2018

Hi, EB Community, 

 
I am Alexandra Gonzalez. I am currently a Junior at EBHS. I am as well a Girl Scout and working on my Gold Award. I am in search of donations and would like to inform you on the issue my project will address, how you can help, and why this is important. 

The project I am working on will be impacting the Special education students in East Brunswick Public ...