As Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis increases, how can we help prepare youth on the spectrum for adulthood? In April of 2018 the Arc of Monroe’s Job Path service launched the Autism Community Employment Initiative (ACE Initiative) to help high-school aged youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This service is in collaboration with Norman Howard and provides students with a short-term internship program that teaches work readiness skills. Norman Howard works with ACCES-VR to place students in this service.
Before the internship begins, students participate in after-school work readiness training to prepare for the experience. This training focuses on regulating emotions, handling social situations, and sensory processing. This time gives staff a chance to know each person and talk about any concerns before entering the workplace.
This paid summer internship is six weeks and each student is supported 100% of the time by staff from Job Path. Students will continue their work readiness training on a weekly basis during the internship timeframe. This is an opportunity to talk about anything happening in the workplace.
“We are teaching people to advocate for themselves by asking for help, asking to have things written down, work in a quieter area, whatever their needs might be,” explains Katie Campbell, Autism Manager at Job Path. “We model independence and teach the tools to use when we’re not there so they are successful.”
More businesses are embracing neurodiversity so there are an increasing amount of opportunities in the workplace for people with ASD. The Arc of Monroe is helping students prepare for the working world.
Katie Campbell is the Autism Manager at the Arc of Monroe’s Job Path Employment Services. Katie has a degree from Nazareth College in History with a Certification in Inclusive Education and a Masters in Inclusive Education. She recently became a Certified Autism Specialist through IBCCES.