Video above: “The First Friend” (2010). A glance into the first two friends, Adam and Cole, who gave birth to the Match-A- Friend™ autism integration model.
In addition to raising autism awareness, the goal of Autism Unites is to provide grass roots support for individuals with autism and their families. Since 2006, Autism Unites (formally known as Dance Into Unity) has been involved with the family of Adam, a young adult who is highly impacted by autism. In 2010, Adam had a seizure and was badly hurt. The family was devastated and Autism Unites responded by organizing a 24/7 team of caregivers.
The caregiver who was most instrumental in connecting to Adam was a 22-year old college student named Cole. This connection was a miracle for Adam. After connecting to Cole, Adam, who had been extremely withdrawn, started to crave connection. Cole also grew as an individual by virtue of his connection to Adam. He discovered his strength, maturity and a healthy sense of identity. After one year, Cole left to pursue his college education, but being with Adam inspired him to change his career path from accounting to special ed. Cole informs us that he is quite happy and fulfilled with his choice!
The relationship between Adam and Cole gave birth to the Match-A-Friend model of community integration. It proved that a positive connection equally benefits both individuals and is a powerful motivator for each to grow and blossom.