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Program supports young adults on the autism spectrum amid coronavirus pandemic

WNYT Staff
Created: September 16, 2020 11:48 AM

LEE -- Living life on the autism spectrum can be challenging enough, but when you do it in the age of the coronavirus pandemic, that compounds the challenge. A program in the Berkshires is helping ease some of those challenges.  

John Pike, 24, grew up as a child with learning differences in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When he found out about the College Internship Program, in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, he jumped at the opportunity. The program is developed especially for students like him.

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“I really didn’t feel too much stress or anxiety about it because I was ready to take a look and see what I could do,” Pike said.

What Pike and other students find out about themselves is that they do have skills, and they do have the ability to build happy, productive and independent lives, despite the challenges they face.

“We provide the tools that they will need in facing some of those challenges,” said Jay Lopez, Life Skills Counselor with CIP.

Lopez’s specialty is finding both the strengths and weaknesses of the 32 students enrolled in the program. He then works to help his students with self-awareness and self-improvement.

John Pike says the program has shot his self-confidence through the roof.

“If I had not found this program, I can’t imagine where I would be,” Pike said.

Since John is now able to focus on transitioning from college to employment, one of the fields he's considering is social work. John says one day he would like to counsel future generations of young people who come through this program.

To hear more about the program, click on Dan Levy’s report.


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