It all started with a dream.
Eden families and staff had a dream to create a center that would address the unique needs of aging adults with autism. After years of designing and developing a program that is among the first of its kind, securing the perfect location, and raising funds, that dream officially became a reality yesterday as Eden Autism celebrated the grand opening of Schalks Crossing Day Center.
The new Schalks Crossing Day Center is specifically designed for adults who are transitioning to retirement age, are ready for retirement, or have significant medical needs.
More than 100 people attended the August 15 grand opening to celebrate a new milestone in Eden’s mission to improve the lives of individuals with autism. Eden families, staff, trustees, participants, and community members were in attendance to commemorate the event, and Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu presented Eden with a proclamation to mark the occasion.
“The township wishes to recognize Eden Autism not only for providing these important services to the many families and individuals in and around the Plainsboro community, but also for the recognition of the continued and developing needs of aging autistic people and for being a caring and wonderful organization,” said Cantu.
Eden Autism President and CEO Michael Decker thanked the many individuals who were instrumental in helping open Schalks Crossing. From Eden’s partners at the Division of Developmental Disabilities and Trustees to the direct support staff and families, this truly was a team effort.
Decker also presented Community Trustee Mark Berkowsky with a plaque honoring him for his outstanding efforts in the development of Schalks Crossing. Berkowsky was the driving force behind the space, working with his team to find the location and design it in a way that best suited Eden’s needs.
“Eden has continued to grow alongside our participants,” said Decker. “Many of the adults who have been with Eden since they were children are now in their sixties and seventies and their needs have grown significantly. The opening of Schalks Crossing reflects our commitment to serving individuals across the lifespan.”
Despite an aging population, just 2 percent of autism and aging research is focused on seniors with autism. With little research and programming in place, many families are left facing an uncertain future as their loved one transitions to their senior years. Schalks Crossing was developed to provide stability and security for older participants and their families.
“Eden has a long-term commitment to providing services to individuals across their lifespan,” said Chief Program Officer Rachel Tait. “The opening of this location continues to show our promise to serve those individuals on the spectrum who are aging or have more significant medical needs. The development and planning of Schalks Crossing over the last two years has allowed us to adjust some of our strategic initiatives to match Eden’s vision around what aging and more significant medical needs for our participants with autism will look like, not only for the next few years, but beyond as well.”
Every aspect of Schalks Crossing was designed with participants in mind. The center’s location within the Plainsboro Plaza allows our participants to stay active within the community by walking to multiple shops and restaurants. The center has plenty of natural light and open space for participants to enjoy a wide range of activities including arts and crafts, exercise, computer skills, and cooking. Nursing services, speech therapy, and clinical support are also available at Schalks Crossing, and all programming is based on Applied Behavior Analysis.
For more information about Schalks Crossing, visit edenautism.org/schalks-crossing.