Transitional Independent Living



Specialists in Autism Diagnosis & Treatment Since 2006

Student Videos

Get up and move with social activities at New Directions

Our students have many opportunities for social and physical activities. Whether it’s a planned trip out in the community or just taking advantage of all the hiking, shopping, and water fun near by, our students are given the tools to build relationships and make social connections during their time at New Directions.

A Transition Program is only as Good as its Staff

A transition program is only as good as its staff. At New Directions, we have put a great deal of effort into finding the right type of people for our transition programs in both Florida and California. The right staff member for NDFYA qualified in more than terms of their academic and professional accomplishments. We look for employees who also will be engaged in helping students succeed. This type of person wants to see all of the students reach their goals, and are willing to do what they need to in order to see that happen. How do staff members do that? A number of ways. Ready to Be There Something very important in our program is availability. We make sure there is always someone around for our students to talk to. However, the person a student needs to talk to may not be the person on call. Our staff members must be willing to get on the phone or go to the office even when it’s far outside of business hours. Encourage Students We often have students who don’t want to participate in the activities or classes we offer. They may be involved in other things, or they’re trying to avoid being around people they’re not familiar with, or they may simply not want to leave their rooms. Whatever the reason may be, our staff members are able to motivate students to come out of their personal spaces. We want them to join the rest of the students so they experience the social activities that will ultimately improve their lives. (This applies both literally and figuratively.) Coach Through Problems When students have difficulties finding or keeping jobs, we have staff members who are dedicated to helping these students with the essentials such as how to:
  • Search for jobs each student will actually enjoy
  • Interview for jobs
  • Keep the job once one is found
Other employees are in similar positions to help students work through problems with:
  • Academics
  • Life Skills
  • Finances
Staff members in these positions are just as vital to helping students reach their goals as the therapists and psychologists on our clinical teams. Whatever Students Need Students come to New Directions for a variety of reasons. Whatever those reasons may be, each staff member is ready to help your young adult work through it. Students must be willing to improve, too, but it’s easier when there are people who are there for them.

Don’t Be Discouraged By Setbacks

Changes don’t happen overnight. You can follow all of the advice in our blog. You can spend hours discussing what you need to do with counselors and parents who have been there. But it takes time. When you choose a transition program such as NDFYA, or are trying to help your young adult yourself, understand that your young adult won’t improve immediately. There will be days he or she needs to be dragged from bed. They’ll lose track of time and miss appointments. They’ll backslide into old habits. It’s part of the process. It also doesn’t necessarily mean the process needs to change. Even Students in a Program Have Failures For example, a student shared with us she had struggled at first with time management, especially when it came to waking up in time to come into the office here at NDFYA. It was too tempting to stay in bed when she didn’t have parents around to ensure she was getting up. However, as our staff continued to visit her apartment here on campus each morning to make sure she had indeed started her day on time, it gradually became part of her routine. Now she is living on her own outside of campus. She admits to occasionally having days where she oversleeps, but tells us she now understands the necessity of making appointments on time. Failure Is a Necessary Step In order for your young adult to succeed, he or she must experience a few scenarios where things go wrong. Learning what will happen in those circumstances, such as the money lost from missing an hour of work, gives your young adult an incentive to not let it happen again. If the naturally-occurring consequences don’t encourage your young adult to change his or her behavior, then you may need to impose some additional consequences yourself, such as refusing to allow them access to your vehicle when not working. Be Prepared to Take the Time It Takes It’s always tempting to think what you’re doing isn’t going to work when you try something and it doesn’t go as planned. Then you end up moving from solution to solution to the find the “perfect” one, and actually accomplish nothing. (There is a difference between jumping between programs and recognizing when a program simply isn’t working. If a great deal of time has passed and you see no progress, you may need to reconsider your current program.) When you or your young adult feel that temptation to change the plan because a few missteps happened, don’t give in. Gregory Ciotti suggests you instead look at the total number of days your young adult has been successful and concentrate on those accomplishments. Recognize that your goal may take a couple of weeks, or a month, or a couple of months, or longer, to reach. Teach your young adult to forgive themselves for the slip-ups and move on. When your young adult does reach their goal, though, it’ll have become a habit and will seem much easier to do every day. This is when you see progress, and it may even be a lot of progress at that point. Focus on Creating New Habits As your young adult works toward independence, remember that you are helping him or her create new habits that will help them support themselves rather than breaking the old habits. Stay on one path, and you will find it takes your young adult where they need to go.

Helping Young Adults Build Skills to Get Hired

Have you put much thought into how your young adult looks for jobs? Does he or she just spend hours looking through classifieds or online postings? Is he or she filling out applications for anything that is available? Or maybe you’re the one doing all of the hunting for them? It may seem like this approach is working. Your young adult is getting interviews and has even been hired. But in a relatively short amount of time they are right back where they were before: jobless and looking the same way. They might even still have the job, but are completely miserable. Your young adult needs to engage in a job search that is focused rather than scattershot. This is one of the skills taught by New Directions. Before the Job Search Begins We start with an assessment. When students who are interested in working on their vocational skills start in our transition program, they take a test. The results of this test give our instructors an idea of each student’s aptitude. Building the Resume Once we have an idea of what the student might be good at and like, we help them find a position (or more than one) that gives them experience. This position may be an actual paying job, but it also might be volunteer work or an internship. There are several benefits to this approach. The student gains work experience to put on his or her resume or applications when job hunting. He or she also learns whether or not they are suited for a specific type of job or industry. It also gives students the opportunity to practice the social and job skills we are teaching in the program. If that one doesn’t work, or the term ends, we help students find another position. We don’t try to pigeonhole students into one type of job. We have placed students in a wide range of jobs and industries. During the Job Search As students are looking for work, they are assisted by our vocational staff members. Each student learns how to:
  • Look for jobs matching their aptitudes according to the assessment test
  • Complete a job application or resume
  • Present themselves for an interview, and how to interact during the interview
  • Keep the position once they’ve been awarded it
Take Jill’s Example When Jill arrived at New Directions, her assessment test told her and our team that her personality was suited for a people-oriented job such as teaching. Jill also had teaching experience from her college coursework, so she started in a volunteer position at a local school. However, Jill soon realized that, although she enjoyed working with the children and teachers, teaching was not her calling. We then helped her find a full-time position at a nearby hotel. Working in the hotel is something Jill has discovered she is good at. She likes the work and the people she meets. She was even recognized as Employee of the Month recently! It’s also a position with long-term potential, as people are often promoted and have been working there for years. The Focused Approach Once your young adult understands how to find a job that fits his or her personality, they will thrive in their next position. This type of job search may require more work than just taking whatever job comes along first, but the long-term benefits are much more valuable.

New Directions for Young Adults: Student Testimonial, Life Skills

Impromptu discussion between Dr. Drew Rubin and a student in the New Directions program about the impact of the New Directions program. Discussion includes Life Skills and Vocational Training as well as New Directions Support.

It Takes a Village

Does your young adult have enough support? You and your family certainly provide support, and you may feel that should be enough. But what if your support isn’t enough? Despite your best efforts, your young adult may not accomplish his or her goals without an adequate network around them. Perhaps there are friends encouraging him or her to participate in the very activities you are trying to steer them from. And long-term success in school or a job isn’t likely if the instructors or managers don’t care. It Takes a Village At NDFYA, support comes from everyone. Your young adult receives assistance with activities such as job hunting and academics from our staff from the moment they enroll in our program. The support we offer comes from all directions, however. Our staff members are not the only ones who care. Students at New Directions want to see each other succeed, as well. When students such as Megan first come to NDFYA, they may be overwhelmed and find it difficult to interact and become involved with others. However, once they make the initial connection with another student, they continue to meet and connect with others until they have built a network around themselves. How We Provide Support By living on our campus, it’s easy for our staff and other students to see when a student needs help, and for your young adult to receive that help. It also helps students meet one another and start making friends. Social activities such as Open Mic Night that are open only to students and staff certainly help young adults like yours develop the necessary network. We have also worked hard to create to develop relationships with the local colleges and trade schools. This allows us to provide students with the resources they need both on and off campus to complete their academic goals. Individualized Programs We also recognize everyone needs something different. Some need more support than others, and needs change over time. While one student might have difficulty making friends, another finds their problems lie more in finding an appropriate job or getting coursework done. One example is our housing options. We choose housing for students based on the amount of structure they need, whether it’s apartments where they get to be more independent or group houses where more of their activities have supervision. Give Them the Support They Need Sometimes the focused attention of a transition program such as New Directions is what your young adult needs in order to become independent. Being surrounded by other young adults with similar problems and goals and trained staff dedicated to helping your young adult reach his or her goals often motivates students in ways not possible without this support.

Parents Videos

Parent Interview – Lessons Carried Forward

Michael Kellen, Ph.D., The Clinical Director of New Directions for Young Adults talks with the parent of a graduated New Directions for Young Adults student about her experiences at the New Directions program. Also discussed are observations about how the program helped her young adult. Discussed are changes in self-confidence, problem-solving abilities, frustration tolerance, and social skills. In addition, there is discussion about how developing those abilities was crucial to the student's successful transition into a typical college environment. New Directions serves clients both with and without autism spectrum disorder. New Directions for Young Adults is a transitional living program that strives to help young adults with autism and/or other mental health concerns develop independent living skills in a structured and supportive environment. Services are customized using “Direction Therapy” a multi-disciplinary clinical treatment that includes the academic, vocational, financial, life management, and social skill domains.

Parents of a college-aged young woman speak about their experience

Parents describe New Directions as the best decision they ever made

Parents of young woman with autism who attends college talk about New Directions

Proud Mom shares her experiences.

Mother of Young Adult Explains Why New Directions is the Perfect Place for Her Son

Parents of former clients speak about what services were most helpful for their young adult

The parent of a former client speaks about her concerns for her young adult and her feelings about when and why she felt a transition program was needed for her young adult. A mom speaks about how to know when your young adult needs more than parents can provide and manage.

Staff Videos

Staff Experience: Victoria Palmer

Staff Experience: Shannon C

Staff Experience: Thea

What Our Clients/Parents Say

Louisa Shingler
Louisa Shingler
NDFYA has been a great program for our son. He has achieved maturity and independence as well as improved social skills and navigation since participating in NDFYA’s multidisciplinary program. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the program to other neurodiverse young people and their families.
Staci Ross
Staci Ross
Our son has been with New Directions for 2 1/2 years. He has had some good days and some bad days. The staff is always there to support him. They help guide him to be an independent adult. There are many services available to meet every young adults needs. My son is thriving and I owe it all to the staff for working with him and our family.
Linda Stein
Linda Stein
Kind, warm and organized program that has the best interests at heart for the students. Our adult child is thriving, so happy there and has many friends, learning life and social skills. The program coordinators keep us advised of how things are going and we all work together to achieve the best result possible. I am so grateful for New Directions. They have provided so much guidance and love, giving our whole family new found happiness and hope for the future.
Andy Pond
Andy Pond
They do an excellent job of working with parents and their young adult kids —-helping them get “launched”.
New Directions serves young adults who "fall through the cracks" of other systems. We're glad we found the program for our daughter.
Doina Chiacu
Doina Chiacu
Highly recommend New Directions for young people trying to find their way in life. The staff is excellent - dedicated, professional, caring. They offer an array of services from therapy to academic and job support. A team of professionals evaluates your child's needs and meet regularly to discuss their progress, as well as meeting with parents regularly to keep them updated. Our son left the program more than a year ago but still uses services from a couple of members of their staff - he really clicked with them. These people really make a difference.
Edmund Hollander
Edmund Hollander
Our daughter has been at New Directions for a year now. She loves being there and is making progress. Her therapist and job coach are wonderful caring people as are her mentors and staff.
Karen R
Karen R
New Directions for Young Adults is positively changing lives, one client at a time with their years of clinical experience, dedication, genuine kindness and support! They have a multitude of services that have been professionally designed with proven results. Dr. Rubin, the Founder and Executive Director of New Directions for Young Adults, has a hands-on approach and oversees the entire day-to-day operation with brilliance. Dr. Rubin is a class act. Dr. Michael Kellen, Clinical Psychologist, is one of the finest professionals I have had the pleasure of meeting. Dr. Kellen is a superb observer, assessing and offering insights on each client he works with. We are very grateful for the time he's spent in counseling our son. It has truly changed his life! Thank you Dr. Kellen, we appreciate your expertise and all you do. Paula Katz, the Director of Vocational Services, is exceptional at her role. Paula genuinely cares about all her students and will go above and beyond working tirelessly with each student, as their job coach. I strongly and wholeheartedly recommended New Directions for Young Adults.
Tim Donmoyer
Tim Donmoyer
Life changing experience for our daughter. The nurturing, attentive staff and safe environment enabled our daughter (high functioning autistic with eating disorder) to regain her independence, make better life choices and build self esteem. Thanks to all!
It’s been a long haul but we firmly believe our son is in the best place possible for his long-term independence. Staff is wonderful and experienced. We are seeing improvement. Lots of services offered including therapy, tutoring, job placement assistance and social events. Our son wishes he had come here after graduating high school instead of going straight to college. He’s now getting the right amount of support to move forward.

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