All parents want to know that when they aren’t here on this earth anymore, that their children will be okay without them. Parents of children with special needs desire the same; however, the options for their children are limited compared to other populations. At The Next Step Academy, we believe that all individuals, regardless of their disabilities, can learn to work. Working helps people find meaning and purpose, community, a place to belong and a place to contribute. It also helps people pay their bills and provide for themselves, which are critical in allowing people to live their lives as independently as possible. Unfortunately, many children with Autism who have the potential to become part of our labor force are not being given the opportunity for the training and equipping they need to hold a job long-term.
Our vocational training includes more than just the technical skills needed to perform a specific job; it also includes life skills that are needed for any job, including time management, following a dress code, using socially appropriate manners, understanding a job description, working with a supervisor, navigating conflict and so many more.
Currently, we offer:
- Vocational Assessment & Recommendations
- Training in Technology Recycling (Learn more about our partner, Technocycle)
- Training in Food Service and Catering
- Job Coaching Services
- Job Placement Services
- Planning Support for Parents
Cordon Cool Cooking School & Catering
Most of us take basic cooking skills for granted. Children with Autism, however, have some additional challenges learning basic cooking tasks necessary for independent living. These challenges can include food adversity, allergies, or just a lack of basic cooking knowledge. Cordon Cool Cooking School breaks down some of these barriers each time the kids get in front of the stove with a project.
Since the beginning of this program in 2017, our instructors have created a supportive environment where our students are encouraged every step of the way. During class, each little Chef learns about new foods they might never have seen before. They are encouraged to taste new things and are praised for stepping out of their usual box to try the new foods that they create. They learn about how cooking or adding food to a recipe changes flavor and texture, are instructed on food safety and cleanliness, and receive basic skills training such as the proper ways to hold and use a knife.
At Cordon Cool, we’ve also created a catering program that can, on a smaller scale, help identify skills and passion in children who might be able to one day go into the food industry. While we focus on smaller functions, these events allow students the opportunity to prepare and properly serve food for a larger crowd. Our catering program has served anywhere from a small dinner party of 10 people in a client's home, to an afternoon tea for 50 guests. Each event gives our students a learning experience they could not get anywhere else, while they are supported in their learning process every step of they way.