April Member Spotlight

DelARF is proud to shine our Member Spotlight for the month of April, Autism Awareness Month, on Autism Delaware. As part of the month’s awareness activities, Autism Delaware was on hand in Legislative Hall on April 2nd for Smart Cookie Day, an annual opportunity to meet with members of the First State’s General Assembly. Autism Delaware staff and fellow advocates shared personal stories and a fresh-baked cookie with their elected officials and asked for increased awareness and resources to help meet the needs of individuals with autism.

Earlier that day, Delaware Governor Jack Markell was the keynote speaker at the United Nations’ observance of World Autism Day in New York, encouraging other countries to increase vocational opportunities for individuals with disabilities, specifically autism. Governor Markell then travelled back to Legislative Hall in Dover to join Autism Delaware in acknowledging April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. Governor Markell is a longtime advocate of employing individuals with autism spectrum disorder here in the First State and since 2007 Autism Delaware has taken the lead in providing programming so those individuals find success in the workforce through their Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation program (POW&R).

POW&R assists adults with autism spectrum disorder in securing and maintaining employment. Co-funded by the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Autism Delaware, POW&R provides coaches and support to employers and employees so both have a positive experience. In an interview with Delaware Public Radio’s Cathy Carter, Autism Delaware Executive Director, Teresa Avery spoke about POW&R and its advantages for the individuals it helps employ but also the companies that hire them. Ms. Avery noted that “overtime, the fact that the participant [of the POW&R program] has autism fades away and the participant becomes not-the- participant, but a member of the team, just like every other employee.” Ultimately, the community benefits from a more integrated society that utilizes the skills and talents of everyone.

DelARF is proud to spotlight Autism Delaware and the POW&R program. Through the hard work and dedication of our members and by working together, we can enhance the lives of Delawareans with disabilities.

To submit your organization or program for the Member Spotlight, contact DelARF Associate Executive Director, Carolyn Petrak at cpetrak@delarf.org