Their unique niche focus is on aiding young adults make the transition from high school to post-secondary education and gaining jobs.
In recognition of April being International Autism Month, we’re hi-lighting Cristina Miranda Gilson, CEO of HDS Companies and founder of the non-profit HDS Foundation. The HDS Foundation was created in 2008, brought about primarily because one of Gilson’s daughters was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and also because she has always felt that it’s so important for companies to be out in their communities making a difference. The foundation’s mission is helping autistic children and their families navigate through the many complicated situations they have to deal with.
Their unique niche focus is on aiding young adults make the transition from high school to post-secondary education and gaining jobs; helping them become semi-independent and independent adults.
One of their programs, appropriately coined the “Bridges” program was developed by creating a grant for a local Florida high school to work with autistic students and get them into business partners in the community teaching them necessary skills to open up bank accounts, go out and order meals and calculate tips, shop on their own and learn to budget, acquire business skills, be on social media and so many other things. Gilson says that seeing these children be able to engage in the same types of things that their peers do is just priceless, from learning skills needed to be in the work force to attending prom.
The foundation has also created a Toolbox for Success for ASD families to provide resources for the many complex components involved with autistic children from communication, personal appearance, social skills, situational skills, dressing appropriately, educational skills, and job skills. The information is pared down helping parents to pick and choose the components that their child’s level of autism can work through. Not every piece of information is suited for everyone, so they are able to help families work through the process.
Gilson has successfully been able to transcend what her business does with what the foundation does —bringing them together and making a difference. Visit the website www.hdsfoundation.org to see the many great things Gilson and her foundation are doing.
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