Empowering adults to pursue and maintain connections to live the life they want
What is LifeNet?
LifeNet is a private pay, independent living support program for adults with Asperger's or similar autism spectrum profiles.
LifeNet is designed to address questions like:
"Who will help me get the support I need as I transition to living on my own?" or "Who can help me continue to live independently as I grow older?" – Adult
"Who can help my adult family member manage their needs and live more independently of us over time?" – Parent
LifeNet offers peace of mind that an adult on the spectrum will be supported as they navigate adulthood by a devoted team of AANE professionals who understand them.
25th Anniversary Snapshot:
LifeNet Independent Living Support Program
Origin: In 2017, a longtime AANE member (and single mother) searched for long term support for her adult son on the spectrum. Finding no suitable options, she gave AANE a grant to explore a new program.
Program Development: Jay O’Brien, Director of LifeNet, formed an advisory council in 2018 of autistic adults, family members, clinicians, and other stakeholders to create an independent living support program.
Began: AANE launched the LifeNet program in 2019 with 15 Massachusetts adults.
Growth: There are now 12 LifeNet staff members supporting 60 adults in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.
How Do You Approach Supporting Adults?
The LifeNet team uses a strengths-based, adult-centered philosophy in delivering our service. We communicate primarily with the LifeNet adult, meeting them where they are and going at their pace. We center on their own priorities and interests, at any point in time and throughout the lifecourse, serving as a consistent source for accompaniment along the way. Above all, we support and honor the adult’s self-determination: their right and role as their own decision-makers and self-advocates.
What does the LifeNet program provide?
LifeNet offers caring support and companionship for adults on the spectrum over their lifetime across a full range of everyday tasks and responsibilities such as:
- Developing executive functioning skills and strategies
- Maintaining a healthy and safe living environment in their apartment or home
- Arranging and keeping healthcare and dental appointments
- Tending to nutrition, food safety, exercise and hygiene
- Managing budgets, bills, benefits and money
- Engaging socially – around their interests and at their pace
- Pursuing productive employment and/or volunteer opportunities
- Shopping and errands, transportation and travel guidance, and more
LifeNet delivers this personal support and advocacy in multiple ways:
- Fostering meaningful connections between the adult, LifeNet staff, and other providers
- Holding regular check-ins and in-person visits
- Responding to questions or issues as they arise
- Monitoring and responding to changes in well-being
- Developing frustration tolerance and emotional regulation skills
- Assessing options and supporting good decision-making
- Addressing unmet needs, and making progress toward personal goals
- Help completing forms/paperwork and meeting deadlines
- Coordinating between providers and others in the adult’s support network
- Managing transitions of all kinds
Who’s on the LifeNet Team?
More than just a single caseworker, each LifeNet adult is supported by a team of people who have experience in understanding and meeting the needs of adults on the autism spectrum:
- Personal Advocate (clinical case manager) – licensed, master’s-level occupational therapist, social worker, or similar clinical professional
- Support Partner – field-based direct support professional
- Clinical Supervisor – LICSW or other advanced supervisory clinician
- LifeNet Program Director – overall administrator and ombudsman
- Peer/Friend – a similar-age adult peer matched from within the AANE community
Together, the LifeNet Team serves as both a support network and safety net of professionals who care for and develop relationships with the adults in the LifeNet program, offering them a greater sense of community and belonging.