Transitional Independent Living



Specialists in Autism Diagnosis & Treatment Since 2006

Student Videos

New Directions Student Testimonial: Independent Film Writer/Producer

Dr. Drew Rubin, Executive Director of New Directions for Young Adults (NDFYA) interviews NDFYA student Michael Gimson, who talks about his experience with the program. He discusses how NDFYA helped him get his first paying job (and how his volunteer work helped him get that job), the NDFYA programs that helped him with his social skills and manners, shopping and nutrition. A film about Michael’s life and experience with autism was documented in a feature film, “Dreaming in Autistic Colors.

Transition Programs Help Young Adults of Many Backgrounds

Has your child been in trouble? Does that mean they don’t have a place in a transition program like NDFYA? It means they do. Though NDFYA was started to provide guidance toward independent living for young adults with special needs, we realized there were other young adults who needed help. This young woman is one example. She came to us directly out of a rehab program. At first she struggled to connect with our clinicians. The only part of therapy she enjoyed were the different groups because she “likes to talk.” As time passed and she opened up to the idea of creating connections, she became much closer with her clinicians. She also started to realize the benefits of all of the services offered at NDFYA, such as help with job search and the fun activities we plan. School and Career She enjoys working with animals. NDFYA staff helped her enroll in online certificate programs to learn veterinary care. After completing several of the courses, she plans to continue. Her goal now is to find work in a veterinary clinic, pet store, animal rescue, or similar organization. The courses she took will help, but so will her experience. She’s spent time while at NDFYA volunteering at a local animal rescue. Once ready to start looking for jobs, she says the staff were especially helpful with helping her find jobs and putting together her resume. Social Events Participating in the program-wide social events has encouraged her to connect with other NDFYA students. She’s found the other students encouraging and helpful. Though there have been some students who haven’t gotten along, they were willing to work it out with each other. She also notes there isn’t too much of a tendency to form cliques in the program. Students go to the activities as a single group and interact together with few problems. Embrace Honesty She has some advice for students in situations similar to hers: be honest with your clinician. “It’s the only way you’re going to rise above your problems,” she says. Your Child is Welcome Here If your child is struggling to get past a problem such as drugs or the influences of bad friends, a transition program is a great way to break the cycle. Your child receives one-on-one help while being surrounded by others who are working through their own problems. They get to see a successful life on their own is possible, and earn the tools necessary to get there.

Supportive Staff and New Friends Showed This Young Woman How to be Independent

Sometimes we feel we’re giving our children enough support. We wonder what more they could possibly need. Especially if they’ve already worked with therapists or have the benefit of family and friends to turn to. But despite your best efforts your child is still struggling. It might be that you’re not providing the right type of support to your child. Or you’re not offering it in a way your child understands. The Support at a Transition Program is Different For this young woman, things started changing after she came to New Directions. Having someone from the staff available to talk to whenever she needed them was a huge part of helping her overcome her social anxieties and feel like a part of the group rather than an outsider. The staff support wasn’t the only aspect of NDFYA she found beneficial. After she adjusted to living with the other students, she realized it was helpful to talk with them, too. Meeting People and Making Friends Living with her housemates was the biggest reason she found new friends while at New Directions. Being around the small group of people all the time helped her realize she was just like them, not an outsider as she initially felt. It forced her to spend time with personalities she ordinarily wouldn’t befriend. She learned how to associate with different types of people and enjoy hanging out with people who weren’t her typical friends. Soon the nights her house hosted dinner became one of her favorite social events. Gaining Confidence It took a while to feel comfortable during the social events offered by New Directions. “At first I wasn’t aware of how I needed it in my life,” she says. After a while she started attending the activities because she “felt left out.” It was difficult to adjust to the idea that the group was about the whole, rather than individuals, but soon she realized she was a part of the group. As she joined in on the social gatherings, she came to realize she didn’t always need to second-guess herself while around other people. “I can speak to people without getting nervous or paranoid.” It Might Be What Your Child Needs It took going hundreds of miles away from home for this young woman to get stabilized on her medications and learn how to be confident around other people. But she’s glad she made the trip.

Ready to Graduate from the New Directions from Young Adults Transitional Program!

We want to see our students succeed. This is why we offer so many services – from counseling to academic and career support to classes on life skills such as managing your home and finances. But none of those services matter if a student isn’t motivated to succeed. That’s something these students learned during their stay at NDFYA. Our staff is willing to help. The other students are friendly and will also offer support when needed. But when it comes to keeping the counters wiped down and the bank account balanced, students need to do the work themselves.

Counseling Sessions: the First Step

Not all students come into the transition program with that motivation in place. For some students, their parents have left them with no choice but to participate in the program. Other students have the motivation – they just don’t know how to channel it. So students all attend counseling sessions, both individual and group, to find their motivation in ways customized to their personalities.

Support Services

As students take part in therapy sessions, they’re also learning life, academic, and job skills. The more counseling sessions they work through, the easier it is to see how to apply those new skills to their lives. And that trend continues as they see more successes.

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Unfortunately, we can’t help students if we don’t know what they want. A motivated student is more likely to share those motivations with us. Once we know what those are, we can help by:

Being Social Helps

One way we have found to motivate students is our social activities. Many students don’t want to participate when they first arrive, but they’re strongly encouraged to. And as they relax around the other students and learn those students’ stories, they develop a more positive view toward their sessions with our staff. They realize how many other people in our program have experienced and overcome the same troubles as they have.

Finding Motivation

There are students who take longer to find their motivation than others. But for many students, once they have it, they quickly realize how important these new skills are to their lives. And once they know that? Well, then they’re ready to be independent.

How a Transition Program Helps Young Adults Plan for the Future

For many of our students, there’s no plan. They don’t think beyond immediate needs or wants. But you know your child can’t live that way. They’ll find themselves running out of money for essentials, or time for school or work projects. And then the cycle of failing classes or being fired from jobs continues. So for our students, we work on making those plans.
  • Creating a budget to ensure there’s enough for week-to-week needs
  • Developing a daily schedule so all work is completed, but still have time for fun and relaxation
  • Choosing a career and planning the steps to get there

The Value of a Routine

Many people mistakenly believe planning their day means breaking all tasks down into the hours required to complete them. But this doesn’t work. Tasks end up taking too long and eating into time assigned to something else. Or, your child finishes quickly and takes advantage of the “extra” free time, only to realize they’ve lost track and are now running behind. But by teaching your child to develop a routine with time packed in for completing tasks such as homework and chores, your child will develop the habit of completing one task and immediately moving on to the next. Once the tasks are done, the rest of the day can be spent in front of the TV or hanging out with friends.

Managing Finances

Budgeting is hard for many of us. That’s why our transition program has a focus on budgeting and financial management. Students receive a set amount of money each week. We help new students develop their budget and stick to it so they know how much money needs to go to food, how much can be spent on wants, and how much they should save if they want something they don’t currently have the money for.

Growing Academics into a Career

Your child may be taking classes based on what sounds fun or fits graduation requirements. But how will your child translate their coursework into a future? One way for young adults to make this leap is by completing internships. Some internships may help your child learn general job skills, such as being prepared for the work day and showing up on time. Others are geared toward providing your child with experience directly related to the work they want to do. For example, the student in the video above is interested in communications, specifically broadcasting. He gained valuable experience in an internship as a broadcaster with a local sports team, but also completed a journalism internship since he’s working on a journalism minor.

Making the Plan

Students aren’t left to create these plans on their own. Throughout their sessions, our staff help students realize what they want and how to get there. And then those goals are refined as students grow. It’s important your child learns why these plans are necessary and how to develop them. Once plans are in place, they need encouragement to continue working. Repeat it enough times and your child will make plans a habit.

How Music Night Helps Students Build Social Skills While Having Fun

A favorite activity at New Directions is exploring the local music scene, playing music, and reviewing music venues around town. Students and staff come together weakly to learn and play music.  In our student lounge, there are acoustic and bass guitars, drums, keyboard, and other instruments. Basic instruction as well as advanced skills come together weekly to help make this event one of the favorites.  When students are ready, it’s off to open mic night.

How It Started

Though Music Night is organized by NDFYA California’s Assistant Program Director Matt Xavier, it was actually Dr. Rubin’s idea. Dr. Rubin approached Matt about developing a way to take advantage of the nearby music scene. Since our California is in Pleasant Hill, close to San Francisco, there are plenty of options.

Why Music Night?

Music Night serves three purposes (well, four, because it IS fun, after all). Music therapy is one of the services offered by NDFYA, so this is a natural extension. But it also builds social skills and a sense of community in our students. By traveling as a group, students find common interests with each other. But those common interests also help them forge friendships with people outside of the program. Many students are even brave enough to try Open Mike Nights (something many of us on the staff won’t even do).

Back on Campus

For some students, leaving campus for Music Night might be too much. Or, for students who really connect with music, it’s not enough. So we also offer a music group. Music group officially meets on Thursdays. However, we have a couple of guitars, amps, and drums available in the office, so you’ll often find both students and staff hanging out, building those relationships, and enjoying music. Turns Out Music is Good for You Not sure music is a valuable use of your young adult’s time? Check out some of these studies gathered by Cornell University’s Evidence-Based Living. It turns out that music therapy has a lot of health benefits.

A Good Way to Start the Weekend

Next Friday night, don’t try to find us on campus. We’ll be out on the town, checking out the latest in local music. See you there.

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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