Music filled the Pasik family kitchen, and 27-year-old Andrew was in the middle of a dance routine.

It’s one of his favorite activities, even though his kitchen is smaller than the studio and his only interaction with his instructor is through Zoom. The class helps him with his coordination and motor skills.

“You did a great job, bud,” said his mom, Donna.

She said the music is a nice touch too.

"It really strengthens different areas of his brain, so I think it allows him to move better and actually communicate better," Donna said. "It's helped a lot with his oral communication, so I can’t say enough about the program."

What You Need To Know

  • The number of children diagnosed with Autism is rising. The CDC says one in 54 kids is on the autism spectrum
  • April is Autism Acceptance Month, which celebrates differences
  • Soul and Mind Evolution in Auburn offers inclusive programs for students of all ages

Andrew is on the autism spectrum, so programs like this Au-mazing dance class are few and far between.

“Just happy to have it in our community," said Donna. "It’s very difficult for people of Andrew’s age to find services that benefit them, once they’re out of school. “

Between 70,000-111,000 students enter adulthood and age out of school-based autism services every year, according to Autism Speaks.

After class, Andrew and Donna replaced the calendar. It’s something they do at the beginning of every month. They found three items in the picture, and Andrew pointed out his 28th birthday.

He has a weekly calendar too, and his family is glad it hasn’t changed too much throughout the pandemic.

“Andrew likes routine," said Donna. "So when the music class wasn’t happening any longer, we took him out to the mall to show it was closed down, but we could still continue at home. That meant the world to him.”

The schedule said it’s lunch time. Donna asked Andrew if he wanted to make a sandwich, but he said he wanted his mom to do it. While making lunch, Donna reflected on how important things like music class are for Andrew and his peers.

“They’re worth it," said Donna. "I mean they want to be productive and have happy lives just the same as everyone else.”

The music class is run by Soul and Mind Evolution in Auburn. SAME focuses on inclusion, and there are a variety of programs open to all abilities.