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  • PALS

PALS November 2015 - Perspectives Program & Project for Freedom

PALS Meeting Minutes

November 18, 2015 6:30 p.m.

Fox Chapel Area High School 611 Field Club Road Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Dr. Shaun Eack: Faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh and principal investigator of the university's new Perspectives research program.

Perspectives is a grant funded research programed aimed at helping people 16-45 years of age with an ASD diagnosis. The research is focused on collecting more information on how to best "help adults with ASD learn to interact better with others, manage their emotions, feel more comfortable in social situations, and problem solve."

Perspectives uses two non-drug intervention methods; Cognitive Enhancement Therapy and Enriched Supportive Therapy. Services are offered in individual and group settings. There is open enrollment and the program lasts 18 months for each participant, committing one to three hours per week to the research program. Assessments are given throughout the 18 months including clinical, cognitive, and MRI evaluations.


Visit for further information.

Bonnie Rubin: of Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania introduced two programs dedicated to teaching the skills needed for obtain and keep a job.

Project for Freedom is a program offered through Volunteers of America Pennsylvania Project for Freedom focuses on a "student's ability not disability."

Project for Freedom is a four week summer program designed to teach soft skills required for employment to student 16-21. There is an application process and scholarships are available Applications are accepted all year, however, the planning process for each year begins in January. Some school districts pay for the program for a student through Extended School Year Services.

Currently, Project for Freedom has two groups per summer, with 8 - 10 students in each group. Healthy lunches are served daily. There is one group in Beaver County and one in Pittsburgh.






Students participate in field trips to the Project for Freedom Partners. These field trips include dressing appropriately, mock interviews, receiving work badges, etc...

50% of students who graduate from the program are offered employment by a partner.


Workforce Development Program is a program offered through Volunteers of America Pennsylvania Workforce Development Program looks to "Help make students their most employable selves."

WDP is open to persons 21 - 65 years of age with a high school diploma. Scholarships are available.

9 week course focused on three modules, a core curriculum focusing on soft skills, customer service, and technology skills focusing on students becoming MicroSoft ICDL certified in word, excel, online essentials, and computer basics.

Students spend the last two weeks in the field and on the job.


Visit for more information on Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania.

Dr. David McCommons & Dr. Lonnie Carey: Provided a quick tour of the new special education classrooms at Fox Chapel Area High School. This included the new sensory room.


Next Meeting: January 6, 2016, 9:30 a.m. 800 Main Street Sharpsburg, PA 15215 Roots of Faith on the corner of 8th & Main Streets

(FREE parking available one block up on 8th Street)

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