Path To Independence For Autistic Young Adults Aided By $25,000 San Diego Women's Foundation Grant

Awarded to National Foundation for Autism Research's NFAR TECH Program - Specifically Designed to Help Individuals with Autism Gain the Skills and Experience Needed for Successful Careers & Brighter Futures
SAN DIEGO - Aug. 18, 2016 - PRLog -- The San Diego-based National Foundation for Autism Research Technical Training Program (NFAR TECH) for young adults with autism uniquely integrates work expectations and social skill development into a technical skills curriculum. NFAR TECH is honored to have been chosen as one of five local nonprofits to receive a grant from The San Diego Women's Foundation (SDWF). SDWF's 2016 grant funding focused on nonprofits developing employment readiness in underserved communities, and the $25,000 grant is earmarked to help expand NFAR TECH efforts in this specific area.

NFAR TECH offers a learning space designed to mimic a high tech office environment – but also provides critical experience that can help students be successful when they enter the job market. Many young adults with high functioning autism (HFA) have exceptional skills, but limited opportunities after high school and often become isolated at home, playing video games or watching television.

Because the number of teens and young adults with autism has increased tenfold over the last decade, services and interventions are in greater need than ever before. "Since its founding, NFAR has worked to help children with autism reach their potential by fostering new programs and options," noted Juan Leon, NFAR co-founder and president. "Finding meaningful employment not only offers people with autism a job, but also helps to build self-esteem, develops a social network of co-workers, and allows them to gain a level of financial independence."

"Unemployment for those with autism is as high as 85%, which should be a real cause for concern for society, because nearly half a million autistic children will reach adulthood in the next decade," added Leon.

"Funding programs that help citizens find their own pathway to sustainable wage employment is critical for themselves, their families, and the community as a whole," said Suzanne LaTour, SDWF Past Board President. "We know many people on the spectrum have skills well suited for the technology field and we are proud to support NFAR TECH's efforts to help integrate these talented individuals into the workforce to help make San Diego a better and stronger region."

Businesses around the globe, including tech giants Microsoft and SAP, are finding that employees with HFA often have the talent needed to thrive in the tech community. Employment prospects in the industry continue to grow, especially here in the local San Diego market. However, social skill challenges and lack of previous experience are two of the greatest obstacles to finding employment for people on the autism spectrum.

"We are preparing our students to walk into an office and be able to contribute as an employee. We want to make it easy for both the company and individual to work together," said Leon. "Six students, who will be completing our seven month training program at the end of August, are already confirmed to start 160-hour work internships with local companies."

The SDWF grant will help NFAR TECH continue to prepare young adults with autism towards a path towards both personal independence, but also provide the technology industry with local untapped talent.

This year marks the SDWF's 16th year of granting and brings the organization's total to more than $3 million in grants awarded to 80 deserving organizations. Recipients are selected through a rigorous vetting process and each grant totals $25,000 or greater. Through the SDWF, nearly 215 members pool their dollars together to help fund the causes that matter most to San Diego, proving the philosophy embraced by each member: women can do more than woman.

About the NFAR TECH Program

NFAR TECH, designed for young adults (age 18+), is a comprehensive, 7-month vocational program that combines instructor-lead, hands-on training with real life applications, helping to build expertise and experiences that can lead to careers in software testing, and other technical professions.

Enrollment for the next NFAR TECH session (beginning September 12) is now open and more information is available at or by emailing


·    Autism now affects 1 in every 68 children in the U.S., with a new child being diagnosed every 11 minutes

·     Unemployment for those with autism is as high as 85%

·      Research studies funded by the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH) and the Department of Education (DOE) indicate that as many as 1 in 3 young adults with autism have no job experience, college, or technical education within seven years of leaving high school, a poorer outcome than those with any other disability

About the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR)
NFAR was established in 2003 to serve the critical needs of families and their children with autism, including increasing local awareness, support, and services to improve the quality of life for persons living with autism or an autism spectrum disorder. Since 2005, NFAR has invested more than one million dollars throughout the San Diego community to positively impact the living and learning environment for thousands of children with autism. NFAR's main fundraising event, the San Diego Race for Autism, is held each March in Balboa Park in advance of April's National Autism Awareness Month.

About the San Diego Women's Foundation
Founded in 2000, the San Diego Women's Foundation has grown to an organization of nearly 215+ members dedicated to pooling their resources and enhancing the community through grant making. As of June 1, 2016, $3 million has been awarded to 80 local nonprofit programs for their efforts to initiate or improve existing programs. For more information visit:

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Tags:Autism, Employment, Technology
Location:San Diego - California - United States
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