Non-profit offers integration, work opportunities for those with autism

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Adults with profound autism often have limited opportunities to gain employment and integrate into the community.

One local non-profit known as PACTT is working to make community integration a bit more commonplace.

PACTT started as a therapeutic day school 20 years ago and has grown to include transitional services, job training and residential group homes. It's all with the goal of helping children and adults with autism to experience a greater sense of inclusion in the larger community.

With the help of a coach, Eric Jackson and Matt Herbstritt are able to hold jobs. They work at OakParkApartments.com through a partnership with PACTT.

"We can provide them with tasks they're capable of doing and it gives them a sense of purpose and achievement. So it was a win-win for everyone. We got something done that we needed done and they were able to provide the service for us," said Bill Planek, president, OakParkApartments.com.

Their job site is just a short van ride away from the group home where they live. Eight men live in the home where they have 24-hour care and supervision. It's all part of a larger plan to create more inclusive lifestyles for people with disabilities.

"Community integration programs are known to be very effective ways of making sure that people have access to proper care, access to proper support and access to living full lives and that these are programs that need to be really valued in communities," said Kristen Huffman-Gottschling, executive director, PACTT Learning Center.

Organizers at PACTT say community integration programs require strong partnerships. They are always looking for businesses and groups who are willing to open their doors to participants.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.