Below you will find an article that appeared in Autism Delaware’s quarterly newsletter, The Sun, in the Spring edition April – June 2015
Designed to help adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) statewide to be successful in their employment and volunteer and wellness activities, the Autism Delaware program known as Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation (or POW&R, for short) has a mission: to create the networks that connect individuals with ASD to resources in their communities as well as to support their choices for how they live, work, and spend their leisure time.
As of January 2015, 84 POW&R participants enjoyed life as adults in Delaware—with good reason. “Community inclusion is always at the heart of POW&R’s person-centered community-based programming,” says Autism Delaware’s POW&R director, Katina Demetriou. “At POW&R, we believe that individuals with autism can be the most successful when they have the strong support of our community.”
Two of POW&R’s many successful stories of inclusion in the Delaware community are Omar Brown and Madison “Maddie” Nicoletti.
Omar sells hot nuts at Cabela’s (the Christiana Mall’s new sports outfitter) five days a week, including busy Saturdays. He is responsible for roasting pecans, almonds, and cashews and filling compartment containers and paper cones with customers’ orders. Throughout the store, Omar can be heard calling “Hot nuts! Come get your hot nuts!” In addition to being quite the salesman, Omar assists with customer service and directs inquiring customers to the nearby restroom.
When not at work, Omar enjoys a variety of community activities. Joining POW&R participants and staff at Special Olympics, he relies on his athletic skills as a member of the volleyball, basketball, swimming, and golf teams. Omar also enjoys volunteer activities with other POW&R participants and staff, including working in a community garden maintained by POW&R, collecting food donations and portioning donated items for distribution to needy families at Cedars Church of Christ, and sorting food items at the Food Bank of Delaware.
Madie works as a laundry assistant at Bad Hair Day in Rehoboth Beach. Three days a week, she washes towels, pillow cases, and other linens needed daily at the salon and day spa. Then, she folds, rolls, and delivers the linens to each of the salon’s stations. Madie has also assisted in the stamping of tip envelopes and sorting of perm rods. And in the summer months, Madie maintains the salon’s flower boxes and planters.
When not at work, Madie lunches with friends, swims at the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware, tends the flower garden outside Autism Delaware’s Lewes office, and gets her nails manicured with all the colors of the rainbow.
For more information about POW&R, visit autismdelaware.org/AdultServices.
This text was edited for consistency of language and message and appears in the April–June 2015 issue of the Autism Delaware™ quarterly newsletter, The Sun.