Trailblazers - Autism After the School Bus

Because parents like me of young autistic adults like Ben have been on the frontier of autism for decades and we will continue to pioneer and blaze trails for the tsunami of kids who will be aging out of the established support systems. I intend to use my program to raise questions like, “How can I know that my adult child will be safe after leaving home? What are the various models for group homes and residential communities? What about vocational options? What about special diets and medical care? Speech therapy? Vocational choices? Exercise? What about romance and sexuality? Will my adult child experience acceptance and understanding? How can I best stay involved in my child’s life? Who will advocate for my child after I am gone?"

Dan E. Burns, Ph.D., is author of the award-winning book Saving Ben: A Father's Story of Autism, available from University of North Texas Press and on

My book Saving Ben: A Father's Story of Autism reached Amazon Sales Rank #1 Special Needs category in September of 2009. Since Saving Ben was published, Ben has graduated high school – “aged out” of the system. What happens after the school bus stops coming? Ben and I are discovering the answers, surfing the leading edge of a wave that threatens to overwhelm our social services. I am an advocate for young adults with autism, passionate about building hope for their future.

Program Archive

  • Fri, 06/07/2013 - 1:00pm

    Dr. Walsh explains the epigenetic model of autism, its relationship to personality disorders, and new therapies aimed at completing brain development.

  • Tue, 05/07/2013 - 1:00pm

    Architect and entrepreneur Cathy Purple Cherry discusses forward-thinking ideas on decreasing barriers and increasing residential and support options for adults on the ASD spectrum.

  • Sun, 04/07/2013 - 1:00pm

    Diane Belnavis, founder of Juniper Hill Farms, talks about living independently and working at the farm. Part 2 of a previous interview.

  • Thu, 03/07/2013 - 1:00pm

    In this interview, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mark Olson brings venture capital expertise to an ASD campus model.

  • Wed, 03/07/2012 - 1:00pm

    Dan Burns interviews Gary Moore, founder of NonPareil Institute, on what parents of teens with ASD can do to help them prepare for the world of work.

  • Tue, 02/07/2012 - 1:00pm

    Today we talk with Dr. John J. Ratey, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, about hope for brain disorders. Dr. Ratey is the author of Spark, a fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain.

  • Sat, 01/07/2012 - 1:00pm

    Dan Burns talks to TERI executive Krysti DeZonia about her pilot program, Choices for Adult Learning (CAL). Krysti describes her new micro enterprise program and relationship development as part of the work experience.

  • Wed, 12/07/2011 - 1:00pm

    What is the difference between dayhab, volunteer work, sheltered workshops, and competitive employment? Can dayhab a doorway to something beyond? Drs. Burns and Holmes discuss the issues.

  • Sun, 08/07/2011 - 1:00pm

    This month we talk with Joan Mahler of L'Arche and discover how working with intellectually disabled adults can transform relationships and values.

  • Thu, 07/07/2011 - 1:00pm

    The idea for Farmsteads of New England, Inc. (FNE) simmered and grew in the mind of founder, Deborah DeScenza, for a number of years. Deborah is the mother of a child with significant special needs and has worked in the field of special education as a teacher, program coordinator, and consultant for almost twenty years.

    In this interview, Deborah talks about the obstacles she overcame in achieving her dream: an intentional farming community that caters to the needs of people who have autism and other developmental disabilities.