As the name implies, autism spectrum disorders can affect people who have one in a wide variety of ways. Some autistic people are highly intelligent, able to hold down jobs and live independently, though they may struggle with social skills. Others are more severely disabled. They may qualify for Supplemental Security Income if they cannot work.
Many parents of autistic people find that it is difficult to find educational resources after high school. For example, the University of Missouri provides services for disabled students, but does not have any programs specifically designed for people on the autism spectrum. These students may need significant adaptations to be given the chance succeed in a university environment.
To help bridge the gap, two Missouri women started EnCircle Technologies in 2013. EnCircle provides courses in operating systems and other computer technology. The classes are designed with autistic students in mind
The founders have personal experience with the education gap. They are both mothers of young adults with autism. The name EnCircle was inspired by a trip one of the women took to Muir Woods National Monument, where one tree is encircled and supported by several other trees.
She said that the students at EnCircle can succeed, if they receive the necessary support from their community.
As we said above, not everyone on the autism spectrum is able to support themselves through work. People in this situation may not qualify for Social Security Disability payments, because that program requires a certain amount of work history. But they may qualify for SSI, which is a need-based program.
Source: Columbia Missourian, “EnCircle equips autistic young adults with technical skills,” Michelle Todd, Aug. 7, 2014