The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and Department of Developmental Services have proposed a pilot program for job training and employment opportunities for young adults on the autism spectrum. In this program, 100 such individuals will receive job training at Hartford and New Haven, in Connecticut. This proposal has been formulated in a bill and is currently with the Legislature’s Human Service Committee.
Executive Director of Autism Services and Resources, Connecticut, Lois Rosenwald, said many autistic individuals have attended colleges and they may have abilities to sustain themselves. However, they may lack interpersonal skills. This program will study the teaching methods for such soft skills and the effectivity of job training for adults with autism spectrum. The ultimate aim of the program is to fight two major problems faced by autistic individuals: unemployment or economic dependency and difficulty in living independently.
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and Department of Developmental Services would collect information on the cost of the training, the difficulties faced by the trainees, the number of autistic adults who are working for a minimum of 20 hours a week and would report these back to the legislature. The legislature would then decide whether to continue the program.
“The program should run longer”, states Rosenwald. It takes time to come up with an effective program. “We need to collect data and to analyze them to see what works and what doesn’t”, said Rosenwald. Even the trainers need to learn “how to work with our folks effectively”. She said the program’s success depends on how much of these training’s, planned by the social workers, are sensitive to the needs of autistic individuals.
Carol Marcantonio, an occupational therapist assistant and a mother of an autistic boy, said although it is crucial to teach young adults to adapt to their workplace, however, it is far more important to teach the workplace to adapt to the young adults. This aspect should be included in an effective job training program for adults on the autism spectrum.”You are not going to place the young adults in jobs unless you understand them“, said Marcantonio.
This two-year pilot program was conceived after a study suggested that housing and job placement assistance should be increased by the state to meet the needs of ever-growing numbers of autistic individuals. In lieu of this, Autism Speaks, one of the largest autism advocacy organizations, have launched a unique employment toolkit for Autism that could be downloaded by clicking here.
Some Recent Success Stories
Job training at bakery
Food for Good Thought is a bakery in Ohio run by Audrey Todd. However, other than baking and selling cakes, Food for Good Thought also provides job training for those on the autism spectrum. The employees here work for the bakery as well as receive training for other jobs. There are four full-time employees, seven part-time job coaches and 12 support employees in the bakery. Learn how the employees with Autism were 80% more productive than the others
Florida Car Wash
A car wash in Florida has as many as 35 employees with Autism out of their total base of 43 employees. Owned by the father of a 30-year-old autistic adult, the management considers the employees with Autism to be unique assets within the organization and also part of their core business strategy.
Read the full story here.