During an open house, guests visit students and staff at 18 Fairview Terrace in Great Barrington, home to Bridging the Gap, a new life skills day education program for young adults with autism spectrum disorders. (Jenn Smith / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Life skills classes for Robert Warner and his classmates used to take place in a classroom at Monument Mountain Regional High School, with pretend food, a mock grocery line, and staff playing the roles of bank tellers and clerks.
Warner, 18, and his fellow peers with autism spectrum disorders sometimes need extra support and practice with things like cooking, cleaning and shopping, as compared to their non-affected or “typical” peers.
About three years ago, his mother, Diane “Dee Dee” Warner, of Great Barrington, approached Karen Mackey, an autism specialist at Monument Mountain, and asked about finding a program to better assist her son outside of the school and in a more real-life setting.
Mackey and Special Education Director Thomas Simon looked around the region in partnership with Berkshire Family and Individual Resources (BFAIR) for a program for young adults, but came up empty-handed. So, they came up with their own.
Warner, through a friend, found a family who had been renting out to summer tourists a two-floor home at 18 Fairview Terrace in Great Barrington. BFAIR came up with an arrangement to lease the building, and the high school contracts with BFAIR to use the facility. Continue reading