ACAP launches iStrive program for young adults on the autism spectrum

LIVINGSTON, NJ — “I’m finding it hard to envision the rest of my son’s life and I need to hear what other parents have to say. Maybe there’s something I haven’t thought of.” “My son needs activities so his energy can be directed. He needs a structured place where he can navigate into adulthood.” “Especially on weekends, he gets just locked in a video game. I guess it serves some emotional function, but he gets so lost in those repetitive activities that it’s hard to win him back.”

In response to such pained reflections from parents of young adults on the autism spectrum in the Essex County community, ACAP, a teaching, training and treating mental health educational and clinical service centered in Livingston, has announced the opening of a new program, one of a kind in New Jersey. ACAP’s iStrive, a Saturday program for young adults who are high functioning on the autism spectrum, will be starting this coming fall. On Saturday mornings, participants will have an opportunity to socialize, experience stress management and mindfulness activities, receive emotional literacy assistance, and work on job readiness or maintenance skills.

In addition to the young adults making new friends in an open structured environment conducive to their special needs, the parents of participants will also have an opportunity to socialize, strategize and learn the latest in innovations for working with this special population. According to ACAP Executive Director Vicki Semel, the program “will provide socio-emotional and career mentorship, empowering the young adults to overcome obstacles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Our experience is that these valuable community members learn in divergent ways. Our program will provide concrete skills building and self-advocacy for this underserved group.”

ACAP will hold a fundraising event for iStrive on Tuesday, May 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston. Honorary chairman include state Sen. Richard Codey and ECLC Executive Director Bruce Litinger. Dr. Bill Semel will be honored for his more than 50 years of service as a pediatrician.

To learn more about and register for the May 1 launch party, visit or contact Lori Feigenbaum at or 973-629-1002.

To learn more about the iStrive program, contact Vicki Semel at 973-629-1001 or visit ACAP’s website at