Greetings from the ASD Job Skills Training Program! I began the Fall semester at the National Autism Association Conference in New Orleans. It was an honor of a lifetime to meet and speak with Dr. Temple Grandin not only once, but twice during my stay! Upon my return to UF, the Fall 2017 semester was off and running! We were busy learning not only through our newly expanded Outdoor Gardening segment of the Job Skills Training Class, but also in the greenhouse and computer lab/classroom. Participants in our classes enjoyed creating a raised garden bed. We grew herbs and vegetables in the bed outdoors and ornamentals, succulents, and herbs in the greenhouse. At the end of the semester, the group harvested all of their crops. We created a feast of salad, sorrel vinaigrette and soup for a Holiday Open House the students hosted for their parents and guests. During our social skills training throughout the fall, the students practiced introducing their parents and family members to other parents and created seating arrangements. Parents were delighted on Open House day to see what all their students had accomplished socially and were amazed to see the grand finale that included having their students perform Christmas carols karaoke-style following the luncheon!
Overall, we had a tremendous time learning, laughing and making new friendships. Our Spring 2018 semester is just underway and we are looking forward to another semester of building career and life skills through plants and gardening!
Jennifer Weis, Jennifer Weis, M.S, C.P.C., ASD Program Coordinator, Wilmot Gardens