Program Transitions Autistic Individuals into the Workplace

Interns of Project Search
(photo credit: nih.gov)

One of ICare4Autism’s largest priorities is helping autistic adults enter the workforce. The Global Autism Workforce Initiative focuses on creating a wider acceptance of autism in society, as well as creating diversity in the workforce. Several organizations are beginning to create programs to specifically integrate autistic adult into their workplace.

According to a recent study by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, more than half of young adults with ASD were unable to find work in the eight years after graduating high school. Project Search is an innovative program that hopes to make the transition after high school easier.

Project Search is a year-long program that uses hands-on learning in combination with a classroom-style lecture to transition developmentally disabled individuals into the workplace. Throughout the program, interns between the ages of 18 and 21 spend a minimum of six hours per day building, and then using, the necessary skills they will need when they enter a certain sector of work. The skill-building enables the individual to become comfortable with the idea of doing a certain task, and allows them to grow in particular categories. Project Search began at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, and has since grown rapidly – it now is a part of over 200 facilities across the United States.

Dr. David Kuhn, clinical director of New York’s Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, hopes this program will allow the interns to grow and have the ability to thrive in various environments. He states, “The mission is to build the skills necessary for these individuals to move on beyond these doors to get competitive employment”. He continues, “Our interns go through three ten-week rotations for a total of 600 work hours per year where they are placed at different sites across our campus getting a variety of different experiences.”

Geoffrey Straught, an intern that is about to finish his duration at Project Search, likes the structure of the program and the fact that it involves opportunities for him to build multiple skills. Thanks to Project Search, Geoffrey is now employed at a district attorney’s office. Geoffrey is one of the 70% of participants from the program to go on to find work successfully.

Project Search is an excellent example of how autistic individuals can successfully find positions that fit their strengths, thanks to skill-building, following a schedule, and providing continuous support.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted October 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Excellent initiative by two psyshiatricts, well renowned psyshiatricts from UK and had links with Bangalore. They have lot of experience, in the areas of clinical, research and service development. No doubt, it will be excellent resource for people of Bangalore and for any one with some one with autism and their families. I recommend their work strongly and wish all the success in their initiative.Dr Chikkanna ManjuConsultant Psychiatrist in learning disabilitiesCheltenham, UK

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