SJU Addresses Needs of Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support programs bolster social and life skills

Thursday, November 8, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (November 8, 2012) — As the autism population expands, so too have service options, especially for children. But a growing number of individuals with autism are adults, or are approaching adulthood. The Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University is adding two programs with the aim of improving quality of life for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Most people think of children when they hear about autism,” says Michelle Rowe, Ph.D., executive director of the Kinney Center and professor of health services. “But adults need support as well. Adults with ASD who have marketable skills are much more likely to obtain employment and live productive and rewarding lives.”

Adults Night Out, which launched this fall, is a new extension of the Kinney Center’s already successful Kids Night Out, and will bring adults with autism together one Saturday night each month, from 4 to 7 p.m. Participants are organized into groups based on their interests and skill level, and engage in activities ranging from cooking to music.

For adults with ASD, independent living can be a struggle. The Adult Life Skills Program will launch in the spring and is designed to teach daily living skills focused on increasing independence in areas such as money management, meal preparation and food management, personal hygiene and health, housekeeping and emergency and safety skills. The program will be offered on Mondays from 6-8 p.m. Each week, participants engage in a group lesson, prepare dinner with their peers and practice individual skills. The program culminates with participants going out for a final dinner together.

Upon acceptance into the program, participants must complete a comprehensive survey of the applicant’s existing life skills. The Kinney Center staff will review the survey, determine goals and develop lesson plans to teach skills. Adults will receive an individualized program specific to their needs.

“Much like children with ASD, adults have varying needs,” says Katie Croce, M.Ed., director of programs, training and service. “We want each participant to get the most out of our programs. Individualized support is central to the Kinney Center’s philosophy.”

Support for both Adults Night Out and Adult Life Skills is provided at a 1:1-1:3 ratio by Kinney Center staff and highly trained SCHOLARS, undergraduate students pursuing careers in the autism field.

The Kinney Center is planning additional programs to address job coaching for adults. For more information on adult programs, contact the Kinney Center at 610-660-2170, or visit

About the Kinney Center: With its roots in the Jesuit mission of service and cura personalis, or care for the whole person, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support seeks to address the needs of those who struggle day-to-day with autism, either as individuals or caregivers. The mission of the Kinney Center is to provide multi-disciplinary education and research opportunities for students, teachers, professionals, and parents who seek to improve and extend outcomes, quality of life and best practices in treatment for people with ASD. The Kinney Center offers services, resources, and information; support and guidance; and tools for public and individual advocacy that contribute to improved autism awareness and care.

Media Contact

Kelly Welsh, Director of Communications/College of Arts and Sciences, University Communications, 610-660-1385,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


Expand this section