Project Autism WORKS is a new Workforce program working to greatly enhance the lives of those young adults affected by Autism and their families. Project Autism WORKS will create a dynamic partnership among medical, behavioral and vocational personnel and the business community to create workforce ready youth ages 18 and up, diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum Disorders.
In collaboration with area high schools and vocational schools, colleges and community social service agencies, Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder & CEO of the International Center for Autism Research & Education, Inc. ( ICare4Autism), and Dr. Eric Hollander, Chairman of the Advisory Committee ICare4Autism, will identify and refer potential candidates once a diagnosis and initial assessment is completed.
The initiative integrates essential clinical, educational and workplace readiness and employment training and placement opportunities to serve the needs of participants and advance their contributions as productive citizens. To attain this goal, participants will be recruited, their needs and strengths assessed and Individual Employment Plans designed to foster appropriate training and workforce placement opportunities. This will be accomplished in individual and group sessions conducted in clinical, community, educational and business settings to facilitate teaching essential work place skills to assist, coach/mentor and support participants to effectively enter and maintain employment.
Project Autism WORKS will get the job done by providing the following:
- Workforce training for adults with Autism, ages 18 and up.
- Vocational and employment training services from semi-skilled to high functioning individuals.
- Special targeted program for persons with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Area business partners such as Walgreens Stores will engage participants in the Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI) assessment surveys. The BCBA supervisor (Program Director) and job trainers and coaches will engage participants in Interest/Abilities/Aptitude surveys and academic and workforce readiness skills evaluations.
ICare4Autism staff will jointly convene team clinical case conferences to sequentially amalgamate all data to define participant’s goals and align appropriate interventions and strategies. In turn, anticipated appropriate progress outcomes for each participant will be developed in Individualized Employment Plans (IEP). Each participant’s IEP will serve to map out goals, measurable objectives, interests, training and supports to guide individual progress in developing life skills, citizenship and appropriate career readiness skills, on-the-job learning and sustained workforce employment and/or volunteer services.
The categories of types of employment would be including, but not limited to the following:
Workforce Entry Services
Services to provide high school students with autism with the opportunity to discover their interests and abilities by participating in a variety of vocational experiences, and works with students and their families to develop realistic transition plans when preparing to leave school and enter the workforce. Also includes post-transition supportive services and independent life skills reinforcement.
Vocational and Employment Services: Semi-Skilled
Individuals are trained for and placed in (or work as subcontractors on) jobs performing tasks such as light assembly, packaging, recycling, collating, lawn and garden work, etc. In addition to learning specific job skills, each person receives initial training and ongoing coaching in areas such as appropriate work habits, attitudes and behavior, and social skills required by community employers.
Vocational and Employment Services: High Functioning
Individuals are trained for and placed in (or work as subcontractors on) jobs that build off their existing strengths and personality traits in such areas as computer programming, maintenance and operation of machines and equipment, laboratory technician, animal training and care, horticulture, handicrafts, photography, etc. In addition to learning specific job skills, each person receives initial training and ongoing coaching in areas such as appropriate work habits, attitudes and behavior, and social skills required by community employers.
High Level Employment Services for Persons with Asperger’s Syndrome: Technology Sector
In recognition to the large number of opportunities in this high growth sector and the unique skills that persons with Asperger’s possess which can lead to high level career opportunities, this service provides individuals with a customized job plan, job coach, skills training to help their job searches (resume building, applications, interviewing, etc.) and ongoing on-the-job training and support.
This initiative will offer unique opportunities to Israelis with autism, their families and — by creating new high value-added private sector opportunities — the entire community. By creating an urgently needed replicable model, it will also have global reach as well as local impact.
The overarching goal of Project Autism WORKS is to serve Autistic youth and society reinforcing skills, abilities and unique skills rather than deficits. The Program serves to transform the workplace and each participant by affirming the Danish theory “Specialisterne” affirming given the appropriate training and environment, an autistic youth can not only hold down a job, but in fact be the best person for it.