West Palm Beach school teaching youngsters with autism skills to help them when they become adults

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In this class at the Renaissance Learning Center, the youngsters at the lower functioning end of the autism spectrum are learning how to do chores.

"What are we doing," asks an  instructor.

"We're sorting the clothes," she then answers her own question.

Most of the youngsters in this group are unable to speak, but with help, they can accomplish certain tasks.

For example, 9-year-old Lincoln can fold clothes with the help of a folding board.

"We want them to be able to live independently without someone there to prompt them through their daily every day skills," said Meaghan Ahern, a speech pathologist assistant.

She said when it comes to developing the skills that can lead to independence, repetition is the key.

"We maybe practicing these skills throughout the whole year; there's a small amount who could probably practice these skills in 2 or 3 months and then they can move on to the next step," she said.

The next step can be to a class where they take the first steps toward vocational training.

This is where the youngsters from ages 9 to 14 can get their first feel for work, such as sorting office supplies and  stocking shelves

"The teachers will come around and give whatever group is in here their list of supplies and our students will have to count out the paper towels, put them on a cart and deliver them to the classroom," said Ahern.

They are small skills, that could lead to larger accomplishments later.

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