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Amid Coronavirus, Socializing Group For Young Adults With Autism Goes Virtual

Next Step is an initiative of the Hope Center for Autism, creating socializing opportunities for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults with autism. “'We'd go to the movies, golf world, any fun thing that we wanted to do,” Patrick Gauncher-O’Neill, one of Next Step’s creators, was quoted as saying in a report by CBS 12.com. Now, the program, which typically involved in-person meet ups, is facing a challenge due to the Coronavirus crisis, which has made in-person events and gatherings off-limits. Undeterred, Next Step has adapted by offering sessions online via the video conferencing app Zoom. Many young adults with autism say that have benefited from Next Step. One participant, Matthew Gazelle, said the group has “helped me become more comfortable with myself and helped me socialize with more people.” Even with in-person meetings off the table, Gauncher-O’Neill and others involved in Next Step won’t let Coronavirus take those much-needed connections away. Together, they have created a program that thrives on compassion, understanding, and mutual respect. “'If someone from Next Step has a problem, we come in and we talk to them and try to figure out the solution and then try to figure it out," Gauncher-O’Neil. "I think it's a good start for right now, until this whole situation blows over, I think it's a good way to stay connected.” Source: https://cbs12.com/sports/content/local-students-with-autism-make-sure-friendship-stays-alive-despite-isolation

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