JESPY House Celebrates Autism Awareness Month

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From JESPY House:

At JESPY, clients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) develop important life skills, participate in gainful employment, and learn the importance of advocacy. Established in South Orange in 1978, JESPY provides services and programs to 300 adults along their journey to leading full and independent lives.

While it’s important that client self-advocacy and community support take place throughout the year, a spotlight on acknowledging the accomplishments and contributions of adults with disabilities takes place each Spring during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March and Autism Awareness Month in April.

Many people may not realize that Autism falls under the umbrella of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Clients at JESPY and individuals with IDD at large, however, are not defined by their disabilities.

To help further clients’ personal development, JESPY offers a wide range of programs and services. Daily services include Day Habilitation, which prepares clients for community inclusion and offers training in daily living skills; Engagement & Enrichment, which provides well-rounded recreation activities and cultural experiences; Clinical & Behavioral Support Services, which offers long and short-term counseling in multiple areas; Athletics & Fitness, where clients participate in team sports and personal fitness; Case Management and Community-Based Supports, which offer 1:1 support to clients in various aspects of their lives; Residential Services, which offers a variety of housing options; and Work Readiness & Employment Engagement, which enables clients to learn employment skills and work and volunteer in the community.

Meet These JESPY Clients 

Katerina P.

Katerina, who loves athletics, is shown on the left learning volleyball drills during a JESPY partnership outing at Seton Hall University.

Katerina, affectionally known as Katie, has learned and developed many social skills with the help of JESPY’s professional staff and our comprehensive and engaging programming. 

JESPY’s Athletics & Fitness Program has been especially impactful to Katie’s growth. She enjoys her routine of going to Tico’s Gym at the JESPY Clubhouse, engaging with other clients, and practicing with her teammates. Katie is not afraid to put in extra effort to accomplish her goals. 

Katie excels in flag football; one of the newest Special Olympic NJ sports that JESPY competes in. She always arrives ten minutes early to practice and is consistently prepared to focus on the task at hand. Coach Mike, a JESPY staff member shared, “Katie loves getting out there and having fun. She is a bright beacon amongst everyone around her. She has a heart of gold and is empathetic to everyone; these attributes make her a wonderful teammate.”

Sarah D.

Sarah has increased her independence by living in the South Orange community with JESPY supports.

With the full support of her parents, Sarah moved from the family home in Florida to New Jersey to join JESPY. She has been a JESPY client for two years. Sarah lived in The Residence, a supervised apartment-style building for clients, while she gained daily living skills. After reaching many of her goals for independent living, Sarah was ready to move out of The Residence and is now in an apartment of her own in the community where she receives outclient support from JESPY to help maintain this new level of independence.

JESPY’s Residential Services/Daily Living Skills Supervisor Sasha Wynter shares, “Sarah’s perseverance and commitment inspires other clients to pursue their goals and embrace new challenges.”

Sarah also benefits from our Work Readiness & Employment Engagement (WREE) program. With the support of WREE, Sarah found a job that she loves at a local daycare working five days a week and receiving job coaching services to ensure she is excelling at her job. 

Sharidan W.

Sharidan (at right) expanded her horizons by taking her first overnight JESPY trip and is learning to increase her independence.

Sharidan been a JESPY House client since 2018. Through participating in JESPY’s Day Program and Engagement & Enrichment Program, she has developed daily living and critical thinking skills and continually explores various outlets.

A little more than a year ago, Sharidan went on a JESPY-supervised overnight trip for the first time ever to “Spook-tacular” in Salem, Massachusetts. This marked Sharidan’s first independent trip without family present. Sharidan was filled with excitement and not a shred of fear or nerves as she departed for a milestone journey.

She eagerly looks forward to attending more overnight trips with her friends at JESPY. 

Bram V.

Bram is a first-year JESPY client who is developing his life skills on a daily basis.

Bram, who is a first year JESPY client, is a warm-hearted young man who works hard at learning new things on a daily basis. 

 Bram participates in JESPY’s Engagement and Enrichment Program (EEP) and the Day Habilitation Program where he learns daily living skills and explores creative outlets through participation in comedy groups, drawing and art activities. He likes to attend Friday Night Community Dinners to hone his communication skills and form friendships.

“Bram is making progress in reaching his goals toward independence,” shared Nicole Rambone, EEP Supervisor. 

JESPY offers around-the-clock support to clients from age 18 and up  To learn more, visit


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