Jack is a kind and engaging young man who loves 80’s movies and a wide variety of music. Except for some occasional social awkwardness, you might not know that Jack is one of the growing number of young men and women diagnosed with autism who can complete high school, but struggle to attend college or find meaningful employment.

Since enrolling in the ADVANCE Immersive Transition Program, Jack has gained the confidence and skills that allow him to overcome the uncertainty and anxiety that held him back before. He has volunteered extensively in the Houston community and worked in an internship that evolved into a paid position. Jack fills his days with attending seminars on further expanding his work and social skills while he enjoys his newfound independence.

Alexis is the type of young woman who feels alive when she is connected to others. She builds close, trusting relationships with her friends and could not imagine her life without the camaraderie and diversity that they bring. She understands that, at times, conversations move too fast and that, sometimes, its best just to laugh when everyone else is laughing. Thanks to a great family and a strong group of supporters, Alexis has developed skills that she uses to navigate life and the fast paced world around her.

Alexis’ goal in the ADVANCE program is to become a person who can stand on her own – to rely less on others to find meaning and personal value. Learning to be more independent is a steep climb for her but she strives daily to make a difference at her job at a nonprofit where she helps coordinate volunteers. Alexis is learning to be the leader of her life rather than going where others take her. She uses therapy, social awareness training, and job coaching to discover what self-confidence feels like. Her new outlook opens new doors that she cannot wait to walk through.

Kyle is a recent college graduate from Marshall University in West Virginia. With a MA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, he was ready to move back to Houston and begin his career. As a young man with autism, Kyle found the daily pressures of searching for a position, and the social flexibility required to interview and obtain work to be overwhelming. Being among a growing number of unemployed or underemployed individuals on the autistic spectrum, Kyle felt unsure and isolated.

As a newly enrolled student in the ADVANCE Immersive Transition Program, Kyle works out every day to maintain his body and mind. He attends seminars each morning that provide him with valuable information and feedback to improve his social skills and employability. Working with a family therapist, speech therapists who focus on executive function development, and a job coach, Kyle is preparing to embark on the life that he wants and deserves.