The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation is working with major local, national, and international partners. Here we provide information and links to our Employment Assessment and Referral partners, High School and College Pipeline partners, Major Area Employer partners, and Community partners.
Employment Assessment and Referral Partners
According to their website, Jobs for Humanity “paves the way to a fairer future for all by connecting historically underrepresented talent to welcoming employers.” In addition to serving members of the neurodivergent workforce, the organization also facilitates job searches for people with blindness and low vision, refugees, Black leaders, single mothers, and the formerly incarcerated. Visit their website to share your story with potential employers, or email email@example.com to ask for more information on how you can become involved.
Specialisterne, a Danish company and social innovator, utilizes employees on the Autism Spectral Disorder (ASD), giving them a competitive advantage in business. Management and staff create a working environment adapted to the special needs of people with ASD to harness their talents. Today, out of more than 50 employees, approximately 75% are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The Frist Center for Autism and Innovation is working with Specialisterne to develop new psychometrics specially designed to assess the unique capabilities of autistic individuals for appropriate job placement.
The Precisionists, Inc. (TPI) is a national company focused on creating 10,000 jobs for people with disabilities by the year 2025, by providing industry best practices for delivering administrative and technology services performed through teams which include individuals with disabilities. TPI has established a satellite office in Nashville to work with the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation as part of demonstrating the Nashville Model. Specifically, TPI will assist with job placement opportunities and workplace accommodations for individuals identified through the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation high school and college pipeline partners (see below). The Precisionists were also featured in an article by Lehigh Business, which can be viewed here. To learn more about job opportunities through TPI, complete this statement of interest form.
Rangam is a minority woman, disability-owned global workforce solutions company. Their philosophy of “empathy drives innovation” influences everything they do. They specialize in attracting and retaining global talent for Engineering, Scientific, Clinical, Healthcare, Administrative, Finance, IT, and other employment categories.
SourceAbled is Rangam’s hiring program for talent with disabilities and/or neurodivergence, including autism. The SourceAbled team prides itself in that it mirrors the talent population. Many of their own employees are autistic, neurodivergent, have a disability, or have a direct, personal connection to those communities. “We understand our talent community … because we are part of the community.”
Mentra is a neurodivergent-friendly talent platform that intelligently matches neurodiverse individuals with employers that value their strengths. Mentra puts recruiters in front of candidates rather than forcing them to navigate through the challenging process of finding a job. How? Through humantistic AI and community-driven design.
PAIRIN is a social enterprise company whose mission is to make education relevant and hiring equitable. The company was founded on the belief that all people have amazing value, but most of us never realize our potential. People are too often put into ill-fitting boxes, told we can’t, won’t and will never be able to attain our dreams. They seek to change this.
Workplace Programs Consultancy Partners
iSocial is a nationally known powerhouse of university researchers, professional practitioners, and top business executives. All are committed to radically improving the lives of the neurodiverse. iSocial uses Zoom to deliver the most impactful social and IT career skills development workshops for people in this important and under-supported population. Madeline from IBM said, “iSocial is a life changer!” Effectiveness is based on over 8 years of university research, 1,000 subjects with 17 peer reviewed technical articles proving efficacy. Here is a link to a technical description of iSocial and the research that supports their services: https://youtu.be/8SXP8_MiWUs
The program includes comprehensive social and life skills development workshops. Registrations are on both a corporate and an individual basis. Six cohorts are teamed in Zoom workshop sessions. Workshops are tailored to cohorts matched by common goals, abilities, careers, and interests.
The iSocial and life skills workshops include the programs described below. These workshops are also available as a semester elective for college bound and college curious students. Attendees include people with basic needs as well as managers from IBM, Mercy Health, the US Air Force and more.
- Social Life Workshop is a foundational social skills program.
- Professional Communications and Leadership Skills Workshop develops higher level social and life skills. Here is a link to a description: https://www.isocl.net/about
- Information Technology career development workshops for the neurodiverse. Participants in these live, virtual programs benefit from a mainstream IT career development path designed for neurodiverse learners.
- Certification for IT careers through Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, HP, AWS and more.
- Courses are conducted exclusively for neurodiverse students and taught by technology professionals who are skilled at teaching the neurodiverse.
- Entry level as well as expert level courses available.
- This program is the result of iSocial teaming with Skillsoft/Global Knowledge, the world’s largest and most trusted IT education company.
For more information contact Bob Etzel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link OT is the first ever neurodiversity consultancy service that utilizes evidence-based medical frameworks to get inside the psychology of what it means to think, process, interact, and self-regulate differently, resulting in neuro-inclusive recruitment, hiring, onboarding, integration and retention practices. What makes Link OT different from other neurodiversity consultancies:
- Team: Link OT utilize board certified Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists with decades of experience working with neurodistinct clients to provide employee and employer-facing services.
- “Nothing about us without us:” Link OT relies on the expertise of our neurodistinct senior advisors who tout deep corporate experience to help design and then implement their services.
- Consulting model: Link OT creates neuro-inclusive recruitment, hiring, integration, and retention practices from the inside out. This means they use the guidance and direction of employees and ERG’s with the messaging and support of senior leaders to create a metrics-based and impactful training focused on managers, who are instrumental to employee success at any organization.
Research & Development Partners
The Uniquely Abled Project enables those with autism to start meaningful careers while filling a major need for employers. Our main program is the Uniquely Abled Academy model, with the vital role of providing skilled capable workers to fill critical vacancies in the manufacturing industry. Hosted by community colleges in partnership with autism experts and state and local service agencies, this education model provides an intensive semester of technical and professional training followed by job placement and ongoing support for both graduates and employers. To date the program has been free for students, and the placement rate for our over 100 graduates is close to 100%. A career as a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) manufacturing machine operator is an excellent fit for those with level 1 autism who like working with their hands.
If you are interested in establishing a local Uniquely Abled Academy, the UAP will provide information, materials and organizational support. Please contact Ivan Rosenberg at IRosenberg@UniquelyAbledProject.org
High School & College Pipeline Partners
Benton Hall Academy is a Nashville school that specializes in educating high school, middle school, and lower school students that may struggle academically or socially in traditional schools. Approximately 30% of their students are on the autism spectrum. In addition to providing neuro-diverse students an education, the school also works to help them transition to college or a job after they graduate, adding the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation as another pathway for their students’ future.
The mission of Currey Ingram Academy is to provide an exemplary K-12 day school program that empowers students with learning differences to achieve their fullest potential. The school delivers on this mission by providing:
- small classes
- evidence-based instruction
- individualized learning plans for each student
- strong arts, athletics and extracurricular activities
- speech-language and academic occupational therapies
- character education and social coaching
- personalized college preparation and counseling
- parent, community and professional education opportunities
Major Employment Partners
America relies on Freddie Mac to support the housing market and the nation’s renters, homebuyers and homeowners – across the entire country and in all economic cycles. That’s why it’s essential to our success that our people reflect the rich diversity of the world in which we live and work. Different perspectives make us a stronger company, drive innovation and support our mission to make home possible across America. Through efforts like our Neurodiversity at Work program, we continue to make strides hiring and promoting diverse employees with a wide range of backgrounds and experience.
Our program started in 2012 as an internship initiative focused on hiring individuals with ASD. In 2020, the program shifted to a new model, supporting a full-time work initiative. We will begin recruiting students and recent graduates in early August for 2021 college analyst and internship opportunities. For more information, contact Sarah Crump at email@example.com.
With a 150-year history and a network of offices in over 50 countries on five continents, UBS has extensive experience managing the wealth of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. This includes helping to protect global financial systems, meeting the regulatory guidelines and recommendations through a global, regional and structural approach. Their BCM program, which considers various levels and types of disruptions that might affect a building, business district, city or a wide-scale condition within a region or multiple regions, is constantly expanded as new information, techniques, and technologies become available. UBS is the first major Nashville employer to hire autistic individuals, the first of whom have joined the UBS Surveillance team.
Business analytics, test automation and complex software development projects are becoming increasingly important as digitization progresses. Precision and lateral thinking is required in IT departments. This is where auticon’s exceptional employees come in: they are all on the autism spectrum who have outstanding cognitive strengths.
auticon believes people with autism are an asset to any team. Special talents in logic, detail and pattern recognition are typical for many people with autism as well as enormous concentration and a pronounced interest in IT, physics, mathematics and technology. Autists can thus make a significant contribution to outstanding performance quality in the areas of IT and compliance.
Aspiritech is a world-class QA testing company that empowers individuals on the autism spectrum to fulfill their potential through meaningful employment combined with social opportunity. Brenda and Moshe Weitzberg founded Aspiritech in 2008 with the dream of finding suitable employment for their adult son Oran. Oran is a college educated, kind, capable person on the Autism spectrum, who had difficulties finding work that suited his talents. After researching a company in Denmark that employed adults doing software QA testing, Moshe and Brenda had their answer. From a kitchen table start-up, Aspiritech now has 120+ employees in two locations and is growing everyday.
Autism Tennessee exists to enrich the lives and experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum, their families, and their surrounding community through support, advocacy and education.
The Chattanooga Autism Center (CAC) has a “resource hub” to help people find services and resources in the region that are the most commonly asked options by autistic individuals, parents, educators, professionals, and others in the community. You can scan the categories on the webpage and click on the blue headings to find details and contact information. The resources are located in East TN, North Georgia, and beyond. This much information can be overwhelming for some, and many people are not sure where to start. The CAC can help provide some guidance and direction by calling the CAC at 423-531-6961 opt 0 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit their resource hub at: https://www.chattanoogaautismcenter.org/regional-resources
National Autism Peer Support is an autistic-led nonprofit that provides a safe place for individuals with autism and their support networks to find resources, acceptance, and understanding while working to educate the community to increase awareness. We offer a monthly meeting which occurs on the first Saturday of each month at the Hermitage Library Branch in South Nashville. This meeting provides autistic individuals with two hours to discuss a topic of interest with their like-minded peers as well as receive peer support for any of life’s trials and tribulations they may be going through. We also offer a faith-based group called The Mind of Christ Neurodivergent Adult Peer Support Group which meets on the third Saturday of each month at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville.
*Attendees aged 17 and under to our monthly meeting must be accompanied by a parent/guardian due to potential topic sensitivity.
**Meetings are free, do not require insurance, and attendees are welcome to bring food and/or beverages.
Our monthly meeting is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and our faith-based group meets from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you would like additional information about either one, please contact Robbie Miller at Robbie@nationalautismpeersupport.org
The Division of Rehabilitation Services is responsible for the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services program, which includes determination of eligibility, determination of the nature and scope of VR services and the provision of employment-focused rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities consistent with their strengths, priorities, and resources. This division is a part of the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
TennesseeWorks was formed with a single goal: to increase the number of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are employed in the state. They work to help each young person with a disability to find a good job, with good pay, that brings real satisfaction and makes a real difference.
The Tennessee Geographic Alliance, Inc., is a non-profit educational organization fostering collaboration among college and university geographers, teachers in kindergarten through twelfth grades, education administrators, private industry and other interested parties. Their mission is to advance geographic literacy. Geospatial skills are among the top emerging skillsets sought by many employers in high-tech, manufacturing, and many other areas.
The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) provides research, training, services, and dissemination to improve the lives of children and adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. The VKC Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), one of our team members that you can read more about here, is dedicated to improving assessment and treatment services for children with ASD and their families while advancing knowledge and training. Employment is an area of emphasis of the VKC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), providing programs and resources, including Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, a free information and referral service. Many Vanderbilt researchers in the VKC Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) lead autism-related research.