Olympic Heights High School starts program to teach students with autism functional living skills

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Susan Manning is working with her 19-year-old son, Philip, on skills she hopes will lead him to a job.

"One more, just one more," she tells him as they put dog biscuits into a bag.

He's in the "pawsability" class at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, where they bake, package and sell organic dog treats.  They have a saying, "pawsability equals employability."

"They're learning how to measure, they're learning how to follow a recipe, they're learning how to package and how to weigh," says Sharon Dix-Stark, one of the instructors teaching the students functional living skills.

"I really would like them to learn these skills and hopefully after 22 they would be able to continue," she said.

The students with autism can stay in school until they're 22-years-old. After that, the questions begin for many of them and their parents.

"There's nowhere for them to go, that's why we started this. Hopefully we can have jobs for them," said Susan Manning.

With her background as a business owner, Manning helped the school set up the non-profit business this year.  It  has twenty students, and she says the class has helped her son.

"What I've noticed is he's staying more focused," she said.

It's a step toward helping them in the classroom, but they say, help's still needed when it comes to their future. 

"There really are not enough places for the students to be employed," said Dix-Stark.

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