Welcome! I’m Eva Blackwell Co-Founder and Executive Director of Verge of Independence Project (VIP), a progressive change initiative that is designed for and by people affected by autism.
As conventional wisdom maintains that once a person reaches twenty-one years of age they are officially an adult thereby, leading a life of independence. However, life's reality is that sometimes the best laid plans take an unexpected course. To this point, I liken my experience as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum to "The Tale of Two 21-Year Olds."
"Our aim is to provide invaluable tools and empowering platforms...that will support youth on the autism spectrum in making the transition into adulthood"
As the story goes, early on in life both of the now 21-year olds had started out on the same level playing field. They hit all of their childhood milestones from birth up to pre-kindergarten, but somewhere around K-2nd grade – one child is diagnosed with having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), causing the rules of the game of life to change. To make a long story short, upon turning 21, the neuro-typical child would go on to fulfill his parents’ dream of becoming ‘empty nesters,’ whereas the child on the autism spectrum needs to further develop both his life and communication skills before leaving the nest. In the end, one young adult is independent and the other is on the verge of independence.
This visual picture of the two 21-year olds is in part the driving force behind the creation of Verge of Independence Project. In fact, ideas for this multimedia advocacy project came about several years back, while assisting my son Branford with mapping out his transitional plans of going from a teenage boy to a young man.
With the Center of Disease Control and Prevention reporting nearly 800,000 young adults in America are on the autism spectrum, it's evident that this population is pioneering a new era of leadership. In being the change that we want to see in the world, Branford and I founded the Verge of Independence Project. Through this site, our aim is to provide invaluable tools and empowering platforms (voting, healthcare, work, education, and socialization/communication) that will support youth on the autism spectrum in making the transition into adulthood with all the rights and privileges that come with it.
Our hope is that you, too, will make a difference by joining the VIP movement.