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Today's Family Magazine

LCBDD program helps adults with autism to reach their potential

Nov 29, 2016 02:37PM ● By Today's Family
By Laura Lytle

Adults with autism spectrum disorder can engage in activities to improve their ability to be independent, enjoy recreational activities and contribute as a skilled employee in the Imagine program of the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood (LCBDD).
As a new program offered to individuals on the autism spectrum, Imagine creates opportunities for success.  During the past year, the program's first 13 adults have become more involved in their communities, learned new skills and overcome obstacles with the support of family, friends and LCBDD staff.

“Imagine is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of adults with autism.  In order to succeed, these individuals need routines, emotional support and understanding.  Imagine supports these adults with job training and independent living skills like cooking, cleaning and community safety,” said Alicia Fabrizi, Imagine program manager.

Because structure is important for individuals on the autism spectrum, the program utilizes schedules, repetition, applied behavioral analysis, intensive speech therapy as well as community participation and inclusion when teaching new skills.

“Imagine uses both environmental and scientific approaches to teaching.  We demonstrate how to do a task, then the individual repeats it until they have mastered that skill before moving on to something new.  It can be as simple as learning to measure accurately for cooking meals or sorting items like envelopes, bolts or laundry.  Each skill is important for independent living,” said Fabrizi.

There are weekly fun activities planned such as swimming or outings to places like Holden Arboretum, the zoo or Euclid Beach Park as well as the grocery store where individuals can work on money skills while buying snacks for themselves or food for making lunches.

Imagine staff are also experienced in the area of autism.  By understanding each individual’s functional communication abilities, they can assist them to better communicate their daily wants and needs, and use their skills to prepare them for a job in the community.

“The LCBDD is always seeking more innovative programs, supports and partnerships to better serve the needs of our community.  Many adults with autism do not have an opportunity to live a typical independent life after graduating school.  We are proud to have developed the Imagine program to facilitate more independent futures,” added Elfie Roman, superintendent of LCBDD.

In addition to learning independent living skills, adults can engage in paid work through Deepwood Industries.  Imagine adults are contracted to sort, package items or parts, and complete tasks that can be applied to other jobs in the community.

“We have seen a huge improvement in the confidence and skills of the adults currently in the Imagine program.  We look forward to developing and expanding the program as we are able to help more adults secure their role in society,” added Fabrizi.

Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder may enroll in the Imagine program through a Medicaid waiver.  An assessment process will help determine the best path to employment and independent living.

For more information on Imagine or to apply for the program, call 440-918-1717 or visit