"Bridging Out"-- Putting the Puzzle Together

Members of the Bridging Out program describe it as follows:

"The group is for socializing and talking out problems. We have a chance to share personal experiences and life events, such as when a family member dies. Over time, we have formed true friendships because we trust each other. We value working and we like to get out in the community."

Download program brochure.

Over 15 years has passed since the first publication of Putting the Puzzle Together -- a groundbreaking collection of first-person stories written by Bridging Out. Bridging Out is our long-running social group for young adults with significant neurodevelopmental disorders.

The process of creating the book was as unique as the product itself. At the time the concept of "reasonable accommodations" was not widely known. Stories were collected through interviews that used a strength-based approach. At the time that meant asking: "What is the best way for you to tell your story? Do you want to write, draw, tell me, find a song, or something else ? You have an important story to tell and I hope you will do what is most comfortable." The method was limited only to the creative imagination of the individual. We were all surprised and pleased with the results. Following publication, several hundred copies were sold and distributed to prospective group members, parents and teachers and at exhibits.

Since then our members experienced significant personal growth. They have gotten older, and as we all know, aging imposes new developmental tasks. In recognition of this, we are preparing to write an update of the Putting the Puzzle Together, focusing on the unique challenges of adulthood. We have a steering committee and a plan to look at resilience as our members have discovered remarkable solutions for many of their challenges.

We will create a publication for adults, parents and professionals about succeeding in adulthood with learning disorders. We will document the history of the Bridging Out! Program and describe our successful social-group model developed by parents, group members, and Bridges' Staff.. We suspect that Bridging Out is the longest running group of its kind, and offers a unique opportunity for reflecting on long-term growth. When finished, the book will be available free as a .pdf document.

When Bridging Out began and the Puzzle Book was written we were all “pioneers” and volunteers. This time we want to provide temporary work for some group members who work on the project. The Steering Committee has prepared job descriptions, a budget and a fundraising plan. The project will cost approximately $25,000 and will be finished in a year.

Mike Kalil was one member who volunteered countless hours on the first edition. He wrote the introduction as well as some of the content. His long-time wish was to see a ten-year edition of the book come to fruition. Sadly, he passed away in 2004. We will dedicate the book to Mike’s memory.

We are excited to reach this place and invite you to join the project through sharing a story of resilience, offering technical assistance in support of the publication, or making a tax-deductible contribution to celebrate the effort of the Bridging Out Program.

Steering Committee: Dara, Cristen, David, Hillary, Justin, Mary-Jane

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