Employment & Preparedness for Adults with Autism


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Presented to the Rotary Club of Shrewsbury, April 2014

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Employment & Preparedness for Adults with Autism

  1. 1. Employment & Preparedness for Adults with Autism
  2. 2. Easterseals.com – MA Profile
  3. 3. cdc.gov – Economic Impact
  4. 4. Cheryl Ryan Chan Author of “22 at 20: A NonTraditional Transition Story Autism Community Thought Leader & Agent of Change Advocate for Transition Supports (speaker at 2014 Autism Awareness Day event at Statehouse) Family Advisor for families facing transition Social Media Strategist & Marketing Professional
  5. 5. Cheryl Ryan Chan MOM TO NICKY • 21 years old, turns 22 in November 2014 • Behavioral aggressions began at age 5 • Maintained in public school setting through grade 6, spent one year in a day program • Hospitalized for 30 days at age 14 in a psychiatric hospital, Developmental Disabilities unit • Hospitalized for 9 months at age 15 waiting for a residential placement (same hospital) • Placed in a hospital-based, Boston area specialized program for 5 years – Program is institutional, severely restrictive, for extremely behaviorally challenged individuals
  6. 6. NICKY’S STORY • He is now living in his own house with a nondisabled housemate in Shared Living, a housing model that traditionally is not equipped to handle guys like mine with ongoing and severe behavior challenges. But he is there, with supports, and spends his days in an adult employment and day hab program, still under the legal authority of the Auburn Public School system. He’s not even 22 yet - that happens in November.
  7. 7. NICKY’S STORY • It’s the result of a group that consisted of 2 Human Service providers, the school system, DDS, and a Medical team from UMASS coming together to plan early and thoroughly. It’s about cross-agency collaboration that focused on the one individual that needed support. It’s about the commitment to be free of territorialism, to embrace the competencies each team member had to make this work.
  8. 8. ETHAN’S STORY • My friend B and her husband have a son who graduated 4 years ago. He has a very high IQ which eliminates him from DDS eligibility, but he can’t even cross the street safely. The Mass Rehab Commission has found a couple of jobs for him and he has tried them, but failed miserably within weeks because he was not prepared with the skills to self-manage, understand how to respond to authority within the workplace, or multitask with deadlines. He has been sitting on his parent’s couch for 4 years, with no prospects. He is becoming more agitated and frustrated, and is posing a safety risk that is likely to end up in crisis without relief.
  9. 9. JACOB’S STORY • Another friend of mine has a child who had a vision of going to college. He went, and the first half of his freshman year he flunked out. Not because of his ability to get good grades. He wasn’t taught before leaving high school the basic skills of accessing supports on campus. He wasn’t provided with time-management training, how to plan a schedule on his own, how to ask for help. So he stayed in the library every day because that was the only place he was comfortable going to.
  10. 10. TALKING $$$ • The cost of the program that failed to educate him for 5 years cost over $310,000 per year. The cost of the program we put into place is less than half. • Put that together with the differences in his quality of life and the progress he has made just in one year, and there is no argument against mandating early planning, tighter collaboration, targeted transition policies and increased support for adult services.
  11. 11. Enacted in April of 2010, the Commission was directed to determine the current status of available services and supports, to identify gaps and to make recommendations to better serve individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Our commitment was to examine the issues for people of all ages–children and adults alike–along the entire spectrum from classic Autism to Asperger’s syndrome.
  12. 12. Disability Studies Quarterly - Unemployment Stats http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1069/1234 • The statistical database at Cornell University's Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (Houtenville, 2009) indicates that the employment rate in the U.S. of men and women aged 18-64 with an identified disability is currently about 18 percent. While underemployment is much harder to track than unemployment, many reports in the disability community indicate that underemployment of people with disabilities is also very common. Consequently, it is understandable how autistic people, as a subset of the larger disability population, may face similar challenges in finding and maintaining jobs.
  13. 13. Disability Studies Quarterly – Barriers to Employmenthttp://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1069/1234 Major obstacles to securing and sustaining employment for autistic people that have been identified by academic studies and case reports include difficulties with: • Managing the job-seeking and job application process (ex. developing resumes, participating in interviews, networking, etc.) • Acclimating to new procedures and routines for jobs • Mastering the social and communication demands of the workplace (ex. understanding job instructions, adjusting to social norms, participating on teams, etc.) • Handling the sensory demands of the workplace • Engaging in goal-oriented and reflexive thinking on the job, such as organization and planning • Handling negative attitudes and stigma associated with autism • Mental health challenges related to difficulties at the workplace (Mawhood, & Howlin, 1999; Nesbitt, 2000; Mullera, Schulerb, Burtona, & Yates, 2003; Howlin, Alcock, & Burkin, 2005; C.García-Villamisar & Hughes, 2007; Higgins, Koch, Boughfman, & Vierstra, 2008; Lawe, Brusilovskiy, Salzer, & Mandell, 2009)
  14. 14. centralmassworks.org – streamlined for employers
  15. 15. Centralmassworks.org The Central Mass Employment Collaborative (CMEC) is a network in South Central Massachusetts of: – Employment service providers, – State agency representatives, – Employers, and – Workforce development entities CMEC’s core mission is to increase job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. CMEC promotes cooperation over competition; and encourages improved coordination and communication in engaging employers through a partnership approach.
  16. 16. Centralmassworks.org
  17. 17. Why we did this: Madame Marie Curie “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
  18. 18. Continue the conversation • Slides: www.slideshare.net/cherylryanchan • Website: www.successfultransitions.org • Email for families: Cheryl Chan cherylryanchan@gmail.com • On Facebook: search for the group “Transitioning our Children with Autism into Adults!” PRESENTATION IS AVAILABLE TO ANY GROUP OR ORGANIZATION, FREE OF CHARGE (contact Cheryl above)
  19. 19. Links & References Central Massachusetts Employment Collaborative: www.centralmassworks.org CDC autism statistics: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html Easter Seals State Autism Profile - Massachusetts: http://www.easterseals.com/explore-resources/living-with-autism/profiles- massachusetts.html Advocates For Autism Massachusetts: www.afamaction.org Disabilities Study Quarterly http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/1069/1234