Housing is the cornerstone of independent living, but at ShineLight, we believe it’s just one piece of the puzzle. For individuals with autism, achieving true independence involves a holistic approach that addresses various aspects of life. Over the past 17 years, ShineLight has been committed to providing residential housing for individuals with autism, offering them a safe and supportive environment. However, our mission goes beyond shelter. We seek to prepare individuals to not only live independently but also thrive in relationships, give back to their community, and provide autism information for parents in North Carolina. In this blog, we’ll explore how our Housing Program serves as an umbrella for holistic care, encompassing supportive employment, social skills training, and community navigation.
Housing at ShineLight: A Strong Foundation
Our residential housing program began 17 years ago and has since thrived, with three locations: Summerhill, College Lakes, and Wilkinson. These homes have become a sanctuary for individuals with autism, offering stability and support. College Lakes is dedicated to adults, while the other two cater to adolescents, primarily males.
ShineLight envisions its Housing Program as more than just a place to stay; it’s the foundation upon which individuals can build their futures. It’s about nurturing dreams of independence and personal growth. Nikki Giovanni Creecy, ShineLight’s Founder and CEO, emphasizes that every person in our residential facilities aspires to live on their own eventually. By setting customized goals for each individual, ShineLight helps them progress, replacing behaviors that may hinder their path to independence.
Supportive Employment: Paving the Path to Autonomy
One of the crucial programs that fall under the umbrella of ShineLight’s Housing Program is Supportive Employment. This program is designed to help individuals with autism secure meaningful employment. ShineLight takes pride in its highly customized approach, tailoring coaching to individual needs and symptoms. Paraprofessionals, often direct care workers, provide one-on-one coaching, addressing various aspects of employment readiness.
The primary goal is to replace behaviors that may not be acceptable in the workplace. Individuals learn cleanliness, appropriate social interactions, money management, and job-specific tasks. ShineLight understands that employment goals are unique to each person, so they focus on person-centered objectives, catering to the individual’s desires and needs. This personalized approach has resulted in many individuals securing jobs, and gaining confidence, income, and autonomy.
Community engagement is also a key component of this program. ShineLight encourages volunteering as a way to explore opportunities within the community, helping individuals connect with potential employers. The program’s success is evident—every individual at ShineLight who desires employment is currently working. Additionally, job coaches are provided to ensure that individuals feel supported and can thrive in their workplace.
Social Skills Training: Building Confidence and Relationships
ShineLight’s commitment to holistic care extends to its Social Skills Training program, which complements the Housing Program and other offerings. Led by an instructor with a background in social work, this training focuses on self-awareness and emotional regulation. Participants learn to understand their emotions and coping mechanisms, leading to increased self-esteem.
The training program covers essential life skills, including job interview preparation and self-care, encompassing hygiene, cooking, food safety, understanding rights, and establishing medical care. Individuals also learn about body language, social cues, and how to navigate social interactions successfully. ShineLight believes that these skills are not just vital for employment but also for building and maintaining relationships.
Through role-playing, social stories, and community exposure, participants gain practical experience in understanding and responding to various social situations. They learn how to introduce themselves, make friends, and discern safe relationships, even in online contexts. The ultimate goal is to empower individuals to feel confident and capable in social settings, further promoting their independence and community integration.
Community Navigation: Connecting to Resources and Belonging
The final piece of the puzzle under ShineLight’s Housing Program umbrella is the Community Navigation program. Its purpose is to connect individuals with autism to essential community resources, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment. The goal is for individuals to thrive in their local community, feel like valued members, and eventually contribute back to the Fayetteville community.
Community engagement plays a pivotal role in this program, especially for individuals transitioning from institutional settings or those who have had limited community exposure. ShineLight aims to break these barriers and help individuals build meaningful relationships with reciprocity.
More Autism Information for Parents in North Carolina
By combining the Housing Program with supportive employment, social skills training, and community navigation, ShineLight strives to provide a holistic approach to care for individuals with autism. It’s not just about finding a place to live; it’s about nurturing dreams, building skills, and fostering independence. As we move forward, we remain dedicated to innovation and continual improvement in our practices, ensuring that every individual we support has the opportunity to thrive, contribute, and lead a fulfilling life in their community. ShineLight is not just a beacon of hope; it’s a guiding light toward a brighter future for those with autism. Contact us for more autism information for parents in North Carolina.