Stories & Voices
With Virtual Support, Elana, an Adult Who Has Autism, Learns to Adjust to a New Reality
April 1st, 2020

Elana, who has autism, has always been a strong advocate for herself and other individuals with disabilities. For over 10 years, she has been an active member of the Long Island Friends Experience (LIFE) at the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC, a UJA partner. LIFE is a program for adults with disabilities that offers classes, support groups, local trips, and recreational activities like bowling, game night, and holiday parties. These provide vital connections with her peers.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Elana lived in her own apartment and filled her weekly calendar with classes, activities, and groups that she attended independently. Since the crisis, Elana has moved back in with her parents. All the programs she attended have stopped.

Like so many others at this time, Elana has experienced a profound loss of independence and feelings of stress, frustration, loneliness, and boredom.

The Gural JCC special needs department is helping Elana and other adults with disabilities through a virtual support group. The LIFE program now offers a Virtual Game Night, where Elana is able to reconnect with her friends in the program. Gural JCC staff also provides outreach calls, individual support, and guidance for Elana.

With the support, connection, and structure she’s finding through the Gural JCC, Elana is learning to adjust to life during the days of the coronavirus.