As the incidence of autism has grown, more and more programs are available for children on the spectrum. But there's a caveat. What happens once those children “age out” of programs that end at 21?

Once they’re adults, the options for these folks narrow considerably. That’s why I was drawn to a story on NorthJersey.com about a company that hires and trains adults on the autism spectrum.

It’s called Greens Do Good located in Hackensack, and they use hydroponic farming techniques to raise a variety of green vegetables and the employees are adults on the autism spectrum.

The mission of Greens Do Good is “to transform the way our local community sources healthy produce by providing the freshest ingredients in a sustainable and socially responsible way.” They call it “produce with a purpose” because it trains, employs, and supports adults with autism.

The effort grew out of the REED Academy’s Next program, which is “designed to support adults with autism ages 21 and older so that they can achieve greater independence and live a meaningful and fulfilling life.” It does this through pre-vocational and vocational training so that once the public resources seemingly evaporate at age 21, the adults can be contributing members of society.

According to Director of Operations Jennifer Faust, over half of adults with autism are unemployed. The repetition involved in the farming goes well with the applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that many people with autism receive.

New Jersey has the highest incidence of autism in the country; nationally, autism occurs in 1 of every 54 births, but in New Jersey, it’s 1 in 32. For more information on the REED Academy and its programs, go here.

Here's an ABC 7 Eyewitness News piece about Greens Do Good:

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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