Vista Vocational Life Skills Center (Vista) was recently featured on an episode of a web-based series called Talking Autism. Talking Autism is produced by Good TV, a media production company based out of Connecticut, for its online channel Goodster® and for Autism Speak’s new web channel. This series is hosted by Nina Martin, a licensed social worker and mother of a 10-year-old boy who is on the spectrum. Talking Autism covers topics such as myths about autism, the initial diagnosis, different types of therapies for sensory integration, jobs and adulthood. Nina and her crew visited Vista for the episode titled “Living Independently” to get a sense of the different programs that are offered both on and off campus, the range of possibilities for student/members after completing the program, and the core mission and foundation upon which Vista operates as a whole.
The first area of focus in the video is the Entrance Program and residential space at Vista’s Westbrook campus. We get a “behind-the-scenes” look at daily life on campus from the perspective of an Entrance Program student/member. While the ultimate goal for Vista’s student/members is independent living and decision making, the Entrance Program student/member highlights the importance of Vista’s rules, guidelines, checklists and schedules that are put in place to create a reliable structure for students/members to keep organized and focused. Many of these organizational methods are carried into the student/members lives beyond Vista since they are such effective tools for transitioning to independent living.
The next area of focus is Vista’s Outreach Program. We learn some of the key components of the Outreach Program from the perspective of a current Outreach Program member. Some of these components include gaining vocational experience and receiving job training, developing social skills and interacting with the community. While learning about the Outreach Program we also learn a bit more about the wide range of abilities amongst Vista’s student/members and the importance of offering each individual an customized experience which focuses on the individual’s current abilities, challenges and goals for the future. This unique experience is created by the individual’s Program Counselors, Life Skills Instructors, Job Coaches, Support Staff, peers and community members.
After spending some time in Vista’s Outreach Program, many members go on to live independently in the community with varying levels of support being provided by Vista. We see an example of a member who was receiving a lot of support from Vista years ago, and who is now living independently in the community. He shares that Vista helped him to make new friends, maintain employment, manage money, and taught him the systems he needed to stay organized and self-sustainable in his daily life.
This episode serves to give parents of those with disabilities an idea of what programs are out there for their children as they grow into adults, and inspires confidence that with the support of an organization like Vista, their son or daughter could achieve goals they perhaps never thought possible and could in fact proceed through adulthood as this episode’s title so aptly implies, “Living Independently.”Based in Madison and Westbrook, CT, Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. Vista’s mission is to provide services and resources on an individualized basis to assist adults with disabilities to live independent and successful lives.
To view the video go to: