Assessment and Employment Referral
Among the most pressing and common questions we hear from autistic adults and their families are: What is the right job for me? What talents do I have that might not be apparent on the surface? What supports will I need to be successful in the workplace?
A driving motivation for the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation is to help individuals answer these questions, and to help our employment partners learn how to fully utilize the capabilities of autistic employees — the “autism advantage” — by recruiting and optimally employing autistic individuals with educational levels ranging from high school to college and beyond.
If you are an autistic adult looking to hire a job coach, we recommend you contact Alan Cohen. He has well over a decade of experience in providing career and job development services to Neurodiverse individuals. During his tenure with the Autism Society of North Carolina, he earned the prestigious Claudia and Roman Direct Service Award for outstanding dedication and support for individuals with ASD and the recipient of the ANCOR (American Network of Community Options and Resources) in North Carolina, for Direct Support Professional of the Year. As an Employment Specialist, he helps neurodivergent individuals secure meaningful and competitive employment through a collaborative process by formulating a targeted job search strategy, focusing on career interest, vocational skill sets, and academic/work history.
Another neurodivergent job coach is Danielle Feerst. She is a licensed Occupational Therapist with clinical experience working with youth and young adults with Autism and ADHD. She conducts weekly, virtual sessions for coaching, and offers family/caregiver consultation and virtual job interview preparation. Her network for career services includes her connections in the Autism technology startup community. Her coaching has a deep focus on communication skills, social emotional learning, and empathy. This unique style is a brand new approach for the autism community. Using a peer model and a co-active coaching approach, she offers a unique perspective on mentorship for the Autism community. Visit her website or book a consultation here. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Danielle Feerst at email@example.com.
Beginning June of 2018, we partnered with Currey Ingram Academy and Specialisterne to develop a month-long pre-employment workshop for high-schoolers and young adults aged 15-20 on the spectrum.
Called the Workforce Readiness and Preparation (WRaP) workshop for students with autism, this four-week course is built upon the development methodology used by Specialisterne to assess, train, and integrate their autistic employees for more than ten years.
The first WRaP workshop took place at Currey Ingram Academy, and we hope to expand it in future years with a similar project for college-aged students.
Employment Assessment and Referral Program
The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation plans to develop an Employment Assessment and Referral program at Vanderbilt University. Using the new psychometric tools and technologies being researched and developed by our team of scientists and engineers, the Employment Assessment and Referral program will provide individuals with quantitative measures of cognitive abilities that may be overlooked by IQ tests and other traditional assessments, as well as an overall profile of the individual’s likely strengths and challenges in the employment context. Finally, the Employment Assessment and Referral program will be able to connect individuals with hiring opportunities through our employment partners in the Nashville Model, provide access to assistive technologies designed to help with the transition to work and independence, and work with employers to provide management trainings and recommended workplace accommodations. It is our aim to have a pilot Employment Assessment and Referral program in place within the next two years.
As we learn of more resources to help in finding employment for those on the spectrum, we will update our site to reflect these resources.
Microsoft is committed to being inclusive of people with disabilities, including neurodiversity (with an Autism Hiring Program), and asks that anyone interested may learn more and apply on this website. They also have an Autism Employer Round-table Job Listing Site.
The Organization for Autism Research has created a collection of resources for autistic adults who are job-hunting. You can access those via their website, at this link.