We all need help in our lives.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living – at some point, we will all need a hand. When that help is offered, we should consider accepting it, whether it be money, advice, medical help or other assistance.

An issue that affects so many people in our community, state and nation is autism. While the condition itself is not treatable, the symptoms are, and that can provide much relief to parents of children with autism.

Much has been done in our city through organizations to help raise awareness about autism and, in some cases, at places where individuals with autism can go to be around their peers.

Western Kentucky University has done a lot through the years to help those with autism, and we believe a new program President Timothy Caboni just launched will go a long way in helping adults living with autism. On Friday, Caboni unveiled a two-year residential program called LifeWorks at the University’s Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex that is aimed at helping young adults with autism transition toward independent lives. LifeWorks, which is funded through $8 million in private support, is the fifth program offered through the Clinical Education Complex.

“LifeWorks is a two-year residential program designed to support living, working and recreation for individuals on the autism spectrum who are 21 years of age and older,” Caboni said. “It will fulfill an unmet need for those who graduate from the Kelly Autism Program Circle of Support and others in our community.”

LifeWorks at WKU is a four-tier program: supported living, supported employment, community engagement and education for relationships at home, in the workplace and in the community.

The program will provide accommodations for up to 26 individuals, and they’ll follow a regular schedule that emphasizes education in social communication and job placement with coaching in social activities. The program is supported with funds from the community.

Originally opening in 2006, the CEC provides services and support to families and their children – from 2 years old through adulthood – and training opportunities for WKU student clinicians. It houses the Communication Disorder Clinic, the Family Resource Program, the Kelly Autism Program and the Renshaw Early Childhood Center.

Many participants in the CEC’s Kelly Autism Program are reaching 21 years old, which is too old to benefit from most support services. Through LifeWorks, adults who are now older will be able to benefit from this most worthwhile program.

It is an important step to assist adults with autism to work on social communication, finding jobs and getting involved in the community.

We commend WKU for launching LifeWorks, as we think it will make a positive impact on the lives of many.

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