ForrestA Day in the Life at the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center

Today marks the first day of fall quarter classes at the Burnett Center and that ‘back-to-school’ buzz has been circulating throughout the center all morning.

As I walk down the hall, I greet new and returning participants – adults with autism and other developmental disabilities – here to learn something new and be amongst peers. Beloved instructors are returning and new ones are here too, eager to bring their expertise and fresh ideas to each classroom.

At the beginning of each music class, the instructor often asks each participant how they’re feeling that day.

Today, a common theme is happy.

And while some of us may be a tad weary of hearing Pharrell’s “Happy” on the radio, today that song echoed throughout the building and it was truly music to my ears. As I joined the group, I witnessed the purest form of happiness- expressed on the faces of two non-verbal people who exchanged handshakes, glanced at each other, and then followed the prompt on an oversized PEC to ‘dance’ along to the catchy pop song. And as they danced, smiles spread across their faces and a wave of gratitude was shared by their parents.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, another group participates in a Level II cooking class and repetitively works on their new skills of grating cheese, rinsing lettuce for a salad, cutting a sandwich, and trying new foods. A table is set for six new friends to display and enjoy the lunch they collectively made, each of them beaming with pride, ownership, and confidence.

Soon after, a prospective participant arrives for an intake appointment- a 22 year-old young man looking for social skills support and activities to meet others. He candidly tells me he has nothing to do during the day. He is alone, frustrated and isolated. I assure his parents we have a Life Skills class that will help him refine his social skills, and practice communication in a safe place among others who will relate to his situation.

From start to finish, this first day of fall quarter has reminded me and our entire team how critical it is for young adults to have meaningful activities to engage in. And to have a place they can look forward to going, where they’re challenged and motivated, and accepted just the way they are.

We recognize that each of these adults has unique strengths, goals, skills and needs. And across the board, each of those are validated, appreciated, and celebrated at the Burnett Center.

We invite you to come see what we’re so happy about here! Fall quarter runs through the end of December, and enrollment for classes is ongoing throughout the quarter. If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more, please visit our website or call our staff at 425.488.6173.

To begin, please fill out an intake form. Thank you!