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Adult Autism: Education Gap for Adults with Autism in Silicon Valley Video

In This Episode:

In Silicon Valley, adults with disabilities face challenges, including lower educational attainment (16.4% hold a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 34.6% of non-disabled individuals), leading to a stark employment gap (17.9% vs. 61.8%), magnified by the competitive tech market. Additionally, less than 1% of housing units are wheelchair accessible.

Adults with Autism Problems In Silicon Valley

  • Educational Opportunities: Lower educational attainment among adults with disabilities, with only 16.4% holding a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 34.6% for those without disabilities. 
  • Employment Gap: The employment rate for individuals with disabilities is significantly lower (17.9%) than for those without (61.8%), exacerbated by Silicon Valley's competitive tech market. 
  • Limited Accessible Housing: Less than 1% of Silicon Valley housing units are wheelchair accessible, impacting adults with mobility disabilities.

"At the College of Adaptive Arts, we're creating a safe, accessible learning environment for all adults, with optional homework and no tests."

About DeAnna Pursai:

DeAnna Pursai is a special education teacher and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the College of Adaptive Arts. She has also been named an “Architect of Change” by Maria Shriver and co-awarded the Delta Kappa Gamma State Distinguished Career/Professional Service Award with CAA Co-Founder and Dean of Instruction Dr. Pamela Lindsay. Deanna grew up with her sister Angel, who has Down Syndrome. This experience taught her how important it is for everyone to have the same chances and to be included.

"Our school in the Valley disrupts traditional support for adults with special needs, aiming to take this innovative model globally."

Show Notes:

  • Inspiration Behind College of Adaptive Arts (CAA): DeAnna Pursai shares the story of her sister Angel, who could not access college education due to her disabilities, inspiring the creation of CAA – a lifelong learning community for adults of all abilities.
  • Unique Approach to Education: Unlike traditional educational institutions, CAA does not require its students to read, write, or take tests, making education accessible to adults historically marginalized from higher education.
  • Innovative Startup Culture: Situated in Silicon Valley, CAA is described as a startup disrupting the traditional education model for adults with special needs, with hopes of expanding globally.
  • Angel’s Perspective: Angel expresses pride and admiration for her sister's initiative, highlighting the personal impact and broader recognition she has gained through CAA.
  • Curriculum and Programs: The podcast delves into the origins and evolution of CAA’s curriculum, which started with arts and has expanded to include a wide range of subjects, catering to the diverse interests of its students.
  • Community and Partnerships: The importance of community support and partnerships is emphasized, highlighting collaborations with local businesses, arts organizations, and educational institutions that have been instrumental in CAA’s growth.
  • Impact on Students and Community: The remarkable growth from 12 to over 229 students across 10 states and internationally underscores CAA's significant impact on filling an educational gap for adults with disabilities.
  • Scaling and Measuring Success: The challenges of scaling CAA’s impact are discussed, along with the strategies for measuring success, including student enrollment, engagement, and development of workforce skills.
  • Vision for the Future: The future of adaptive education is envisioned as a global initiative, with CAA planning to replicate its model to serve more adults with disabilities around the world.
  • How to Support CAA: The podcast concludes with ways the community can support CAA, including attending events, engaging with social media, and contributing to fundraising efforts to sustain and expand its programs.

"We're meeting a critical need for adults with disabilities, filling a gap by celebrating their creativity and collaboration where they excel."

Connect with College of Adaptive Arts

If you would like to learn more or contribute to the mission of this organization, please contact:

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"DeAnna is truly a beacon of innovation and compassion, transforming the educational landscape for adults with disabilities."

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