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Austin Adults with Autism Celebrate Grand Opening of ‘An Independent Me’ (AIM) Residence and Summer Camp that Aims to Empower and Inspire

AustinAn Independent Me (AIM), a full-time residence and summer camp for adults (18 and older) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Round Rock celebrates its grand opening on Saturday, June 30th from 4-8 p.m. Interested parents and the local community are encouraged to attend to learn about day camp opportunities and full-time residence at AIM.

AIM kicked off its first session on June 11, 2012 and with seven campers and one resident in attendance, the first two weeks have been a major success. Adults at AIM have learned how to build a picnic table from wood planks, care for livestock on the ranch-style property, sew, and plant the seeds for an on-site vegetable garden. The grand opening is open to the public and will include bar-b-que, horseback riding, a petting zoo, games, and a silent auction featuring camper-created art and picnic tables.

AIM exceeds standard expectations of group homes for individuals with development disabilities, providing:

  • personalized care, attention and support with a 3:1 ratio (three campers/residents to one staff member);
  • specialists to create developmental plans for each camper; and
  • partnerships with local community organizations to offer unique job, microenterprise, and volunteer opportunities.

Last week, one animal-loving camper shadowed a veterinary technician for two days at nearby Block House Creek Animal Hospital. Angela Day, AIM founder and mother to son with autism beams with pride, "In developing An Independent Me, my heart is full as I spend time with the smiling faces of these innocent souls, teaching them to become as independent as possible, and providing rewarding and individually challenging activities for them on a daily basis."

The opportunities created at AIM open doors and help residents and campers uncover new skills and aspirations. “The AIM camp pushed my 17-year-old to do things he might never have done before by taking the time to understand him, encourage him and cheer him on,” according to Trina Sherman, mother of a current AIM camper. “He comes home with a new confidence and new social opportunities that will enrich his life far beyond what just two short weeks can do.”

As AIM continues to build on its strong start, its founders plan to partner with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), which has already expressed support. Jennifer Kaut, DARS Autism Program Specialist states, "I encourage the efforts of AIM ranch to enlist campers and residents in the DARS process and to focus on increased independence through work. I love that AIM is trying to honor and promote their strengths.”

The Austin, Round Rock, and Cedar Park communities are invited to attend the grand opening event on Saturday, June 30th from 4-8 p.m. at 4350 E. Whitestone Blvd.
Cedar Park, TX 78613. Register for the event here.

AIM is parent- and community-funded, and continues to seek full-time residents, as well as donations of art supplies, toiletries, food and drink, and monetary donations as part of its Sponsor-a-Camper program. To learn more about this year’s campers, visit the Sponsor a Camper page on the AIM website. Camp registration costs $400/week for day campers and $800/week for full-time resident campers. Any donation amount is graciously accepted at http://www.anindependentmecamp.eventbrite.com.

AIM has capacity for five additional full-time residents. To visit the camp, enroll a camper, register a full-time resident, or to partner with AIM to provide job and volunteer opportunities to campers and residents, please contact Angela at akcday(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Comments

First do no harm

Congrats to the lucky seven campers and everyone who made this happen! This sounds like a wonderful program.

Trina Sherman

We had a blast and got some great pictures too. My son can't wait to go back and see his new friends. Everyone was so supportive and included my son in things I never had the vision to imagine. It's time....time to see a future time to believe in the abilities of those with Autism. That time just came to Austin, how lucky we are to be part of it.

Peg Pickering

I'm so thrilled AIM is now open! My son and I will be traveling from Mississippi to spend a week at the camp next month. Looking forward to the experience, and gathering information and ideas to bring back home to create opportunities for young adults with austim here.

Thanks for taking the lead to provide a better life for these remarkable individuals!

Jennifer Flinton

I can't wait for the open house this weekend! Like Susan, I hope that my son will someday be a resident at the AIM ranch. We've still got 8-10 years to go, but it's never too early to start planning.

Anne McElroy Dachel

This is so important. What better proof is there for the autism epidemic than the fact that "adults with autism" are almost always post high school young people?

The national autism focus is about to change. The needs and cost of young adults will far exceed what's happening with our children.

Anne Dachel

Rebecca Otis (on behalf of AIM)

Thank you for your support of AIM ranch! Susan, we hope your son can join us too!

susan cowley

some day i hope my son will be a participating resident at AIM ranch!

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