The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation for Adult Autism Announces Newest Endowment Gifts to Leading U.S. Universities

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Rutgers University and Brown University are latest recipients of endowment gifts to support new programs and services for autistic adults and their families

L to R: Michelle Bayha (Fellow), Dean Potter, Linda Walder, Nicole Pavia (Fellow).

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Fellows with Dean Cathryn Potter, Rutgers University School of Social Work, and Linda Walder, Founder of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.

Our aim is to ensure that for generations to come there will be an impactful focus on adult autism. It is a matter of human rights for all autistic adults to be accepted for who they are and to live the fullest lives possible.

It was announced today that The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJFF), the nation's first not-for-profit organization to exclusively focus on adult autism, will launch two new groundbreaking endowment funds, adding to DJFF’s existing endowed program initiatives at Yale University and the University of Miami.

With gifts of $100,000 each to Brown University and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the newest DJFF endowed programs continue to expand the Foundation’s mission for a global focus on adult autism. Designed to increase awareness, opportunities, and knowledge about aging and autism, each of the four DJFF endowed programs serve a specific area relating to adult autism: research, program development, fostering creativity and expression through the arts, and counseling and resources for family members of adults on the spectrum.

Founded in 2002 by Linda J. Walder, a pioneer in the adult autism arena, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation has blazed trails to develop, fund, and advocate for programs and public policy related to all aspects of adult life such as job training, residential living, the arts, recreation, health and wellness, and socialization. DJFF is named in honor of Linda's son Danny who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and passed away at age nine.

The DJFF endowment funds are opening new doors with the establishment of in perpetuity adult-autism-focused collaborations with the nation's leading researchers and practitioners at renowned universities. They are poised to lead the nation by addressing critical issues in adult autism that will advance the creation of new research and model programs to expand opportunities for the diversely challenged population of autistic adults.

Says Linda Walder: "Our aim is to ensure that for generations to come there will be an impactful focus on adult autism. Today more than 3.5 million Americans live with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and we need to do more to understand adult autism and to create as many paths as we can for adults to participate in and contribute to community life. It is a matter of human rights for all autistic adults to be accepted for who they are and to live the fullest lives possible.”

On September 7, 2016, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Family Support Fellowship and Resource Guide Fund was established at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, School of Social Work (SSW). Its purpose is to train SSW graduate students to work as clinicians specifically focused on improving outcomes for family members of adults diagnosed with autism. The Fund will support the work of 3-4 Fellows annually, who will be known as The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Fellows. The Fellows will work directly with family members of adults diagnosed with ASD to address the concerns and challenges they face as caregivers. The Fellows also will create and update bi-annually a web-based resource guide for families, organizations, and agencies. The resource guide will be featured on the Rutgers SSW website, so that the community at large also can benefit from a list of supports and services as they help adult loved ones navigate the complex system. The Fund's programs will be led by Dr. Cathryn Potter, Dean of Rutgers School of Social Work, and by SSW Professor Mark W. Lamar.

On September 8, 2016, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Theater and Performing Arts Fund at Brown University was established. The Fund will support programs, education, and performance experiences at The Brown University Theater Arts and Performance Studies Program ("TAPS") that benefit young adults and adults diagnosed with ASD. It also will provide experiential and educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to work directly with the adult autism population. The DJFF Fund will enable Brown students and participants from the Artists and Scientists as Partners in Rhode Island to learn the methodology of master teacher Elaine Hall, Founder of The Miracle Project. TAPS’ Adjunct Professor Julie Adams Strandberg will supervise this endowed Fund program.

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Endowment Funds were launched in 2014, with a $100,000 gift to Yale University Medical School to establish the nation's first-ever research fund specifically dedicated to study adult autism. The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Research Fund is led by Roger J. Jou, MD, PhD, at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Jou is a leading autism researcher, and one of the few physician-scientists in the nation who has dedicated his career to the research and care of adults living with autism. With the help of the DJFF endowed fund, Dr. Jou is currently running various social programs for adults on the spectrum as part of his research work, including Community Autism Socials at Yale ("Project CASY").

DJFF's second gift of $100,000 established a new endowment fund at the University of Miami's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) to spearhead further development of their world-renowned adult autism initiatives and establish much-needed new programs and services for adults. Run by Deborah Chin, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs at UM-NSU CARD support adult-related program development, such as "Project EAARN's Employment Boot Camp," an initiative that provides job training and assistance to employers, job seekers, and other professionals interested in improving employment outcomes for individuals with ASD. Dr. Michael Alessandri heads the UM-NSU CARD program.

For additional information about The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, visit its website or Facebook page.

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