The Autism and Movement Project

PANA, Il. (WAND) -- Eight years ago, Erica Matthews started the 'Autism and Movement Project', a place where where autistic people can develop their social skills.

 "The one thing I do like at autism therapy is that we do dancing, science experiments, social games, team building activities and we go on field trips,: Matthews, the founder of the organization said. "One way I think we work is that we push them outside their comfort zone in a different way."

But then Matthews started to wonder: what would these kids do for the rest of their lives?

 "When I saw my older kids getting older and there was nothing for them outside, I decided that we needed to find a way to find jobs for them," Matthews said.

Matthews then started the Brewin' Hope Coffeehouse -- with majority of the employees being people with autism.

"This is kind of that step gearing towards being more independent -- something that parents didn't know if they could get. We're very happy and blessed to be apart of it to see their growth and for them to see their growth, that's something very important to us," Matthews said.

Working at the coffee shop is giving the employees with autism real-world working experience.

"We're getting ready to have four students on payroll and those four ones that are getting ready to start off we know that they will move on to an outside workforce," Matthews said. "That's our goal is to make sure they have a chance to get outside, that we're teaching them the skills here."

It's allowing them to show they can do anything that anyone can do.

"Our kids always voice is that they want to be given a chance they want people to know that they can do it -- maybe a little different, but they can do it and our kids really want to work," Matthews said. "We want the community to know that if you give us a list, we can do it-- that there's nothing that these kids can't do as long as we help them in a way."

The program works with a wide range of people with autism-- as young as 14 months and as old as 86.

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