Evjue Foundation distributes $1.1 million to UW and area nonprofts

James Roll and parents

Waisman Communications

The Waisman Center’s Transitioning Together program is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from The Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times. Transitioning Together offers family-centered group therapy designed to reduce family distress, reduce adolescent behavior problems, and promote community involvement.

This grant was part of $1.1 million The Evjue Foundation allocated to area nonprofit organizations, including $318,000 to programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dane County and communities throughout the nation are experiencing a dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders. The most recent estimate from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows an increase in the rate of diagnosis in the last two years, with 1 in 68 children now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Families with a child on the autism spectrum are at a crisis point and are reaching out to the Waisman Center for help from adolescence to adulthood.

The transition to adulthood is a time of notably high stress for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families; this stress, in turn, has been associated with compromised health and well-being in parents who continue to be the primary caregivers for their children well into adulthood. Upon leaving high school, there is a significant loss of services for young adults with ASD, with many having no meaningful daytime activities. Adolescents and adults with autism are socially isolated, with only 10 percent having even one friend.

To help prepare individuals and families for the transition to adulthood and to improve quality of life for young adults with ASD, Waisman Center investigator Leann Smith, PhD designed and tested a multi-family group psychoeducational intervention. Smith developed Transitioning Together based on the results of longitudinal NIH-funded research conducted at the Waisman Center, under the leadership of Marsha Mailick, PhD, director of the Waisman Center and Vaughan Bascom and Elizabeth M. Boggs Professor.

“The support from The Evjue Foundation will help families enrolled in our Transitioning Together program learn how to best navigate their child’s transition to living as an adult with autism,” says Mailick, “We are so thankful for the Evjue Foundation’s ongoing support.”

“We’ve worked with a number of families and we have seen the positive effect that this program has had on the teens and their parents. It has also created opportunities for the larger community to support adults with autism,” says Smith.

Research has shown that Transitioning Together leads to statistically significant increases in social contacts for teens who participate as well as increase in family positivity and warmth.

Transitioning Together is administered by psychologists and speech-language pathologists skilled in leading psychoeducational groups for people with autism and their families. These clinicians have expertise in treating adolescents and adults with ASD who have behavioral and social communication impairments and provide expertise and guidance in building life skills.

To read more about this year’s Evjue Foundation grants, visit  http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/evjue-foundation-distributes-million-to-uw-and-area-nonprofts/article_04147f02-b2b1-58c4-815e-91ecee09fb10.html.