Jeffery Fox, executive director of Abilities First, and Serene Morrero, director of development, describe this Dutchess-County-based program that serves all developmentally disabled children and adults. The organization has thirty different facilities in Dutchess County, which began with its original “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Poughkeepsie, and now goes from preschool to adult services. Since then, the emphasis in helping the developmentally disabled–who may be on the autism spectrum, have down syndrome , or suffer other forms of intellectual disability–has often been on “mainstreaming” students into regular classrooms, but Abilities First helps handle students not able to be integrated into ordinary schoolrooms. At the adult level, Abilities First provides help with ways to use community resources and currently aids sixty who have regular employment as well as those who are not able to work.
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