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Criteria, Tuition & Evaluation

Supporting your desire and ability to live independently.

Participant Criteria

The Transition Academy is designed for residents who:

  • Are 18 years of age or older.
  • Have a diagnosis of autism.
  • Are able to function without 1:1 support.
  • Have no current or chronic history of elopement, arrest or probation.
  • Have completed a high school or learning resource program.
  • Are able to learn in a small group setting.
  • Are able to communicate wants/needs.
  • Have no recent history of severe aggression or self-injury.
  • Give written consent to inform about, and include parents in, addressing issues posing a threat to independent living.
  • Agree to attend and participate in the First Place® program and required curriculum.
  • Possess skills to safely function in his/her own apartment without direct supervision during non-structured times.
  • Express desire to participate in the program and be motivated to live independently.

Academy applicants take part in interviews and assessments with SARRC for clinical program approval; family members or legal guardians are also involved.

If you meet these criteria and are interested in learning more about the curriculum for adults with autism at the First Place Transition Academy, please complete the contact us form.


Annual Transition Academy tuition includes the apartment lease, utilities, community college tuition and instruction, employment and clinical services. Participants will live at First Place–Phoenix in one of the four four-bedroom suites during their first year and reside in two-bedroom apartments at 29 Palms during their second year as they progress to more independent living.

Clinical Approval Process

Applicant interviews are part of the evaluation process, but they are not the total basis for deciding whether the applicant will be considered. In addition to the information gathered during the on-site evaluation interview, we will request information from the referring agency that documents an applicant’s ability and outlines the social, educational and work history of the applicant. We will also request that you obtain information from teachers, doctors and supervisors, if available.

  • When the intake packet and all of the requested materials have been received, the screening committee will review the information. If the documentation indicates the First Place Transition Academy is not an appropriate program for the applicant, or the applicant does not meet the clinical program requirements, an interview will not be scheduled and the applicant will receive a letter of non-acceptance.
  • If the screening committee decides that the First Place Transition Academy may be appropriate, an interview and assessment will be scheduled. Applicants are contacted and informed of the date and time of the interview.
  • The evaluation interview is crucial to the success of the potential participant and the First Place Transition Academy program. Ideally, the participant will have taken a prior tour and have some knowledge of what they will learn at First Place. The applicant will be taken to a separate area from the parent(s) or guardian(s) for his/her interview. The parent(s) or guardian(s) will meet with staff to receive more information. The interview process includes an explanation of the program (if no prior tour was arranged), a Q&A period for the family and the interview of the applicant with the evaluation committee.
  • The interview gives prospective participants the opportunity to tell the committee about themselves. We believe this interview and visit also enable applicants to be better prepared to make a decision whether they choose to enter the program.
  • The First Place interview procedure is structured to identify whether applicants are extremely motivated and express a commitment to live independently, increasing the likelihood that individuals are prepared to complete the program.


If the applicant meets the entrance criteria, the First Place Transition Academy Program Assistant will contact you about next steps.

Outcomes from evaluation:

  • Applicant chooses to participate in the First Place Transition Academy program.
  • Applicant has the motivation and ability to complete the program in the expected time frame.
  • The applicant’s individual needs can be appropriately served by the program staff and/or community resources.
  • The program is able to provide the least restrictive environment for the applicant.
  • The applicant is prepared to enter the program. If not, the interview committee will make suggestions to help the applicant better prepare him/herself before being accepted to the program.