On a recent spring day, Shannon and Jack, two interns from the Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement employment training program, were spotted at an information table, greeting passersby on NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Westchester campus.
They wanted to raise awareness about their program and the importance of work for people with autism. With the high rate of unemployment and underemployment among adults with autism, training and employment supports such as those provided by our Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement program help to ensure higher success. The program has enjoyed employment rates of up to 75% among graduates.
PSAE interns enter into a full-year program to learn hard job skills, as well as soft skills, to help them transition into adult life. They learn to interview for jobs, follow directions, advocate for themselves, manage transportation, finance, and personal care. For on-the-job exposure, they rotate among three internships throughout the year, in such departments as administration, the pharmacy, maintenance, and food services on NY-Presbyterian Hospital’s White Plains campus
At the information desk last month, Shannon and Jack practiced greeting and interacting with people whom they didn’t know and problem-solving to answer unfamiliar questions. The event was a perfect opportunity to build confidence and develop social skills.
In addition to practicing real-life scenarios, PSAE interns also receive help to secure and maintain employment. We’re proud to report that the employment rate among interns who’ve completed the program is markedly higher than the average employment rate among people living with autism.
The Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement program, run by Arc of Westchester at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains, is one of several employment programs across the country that utilizes a unique autism-specific employment training package developed by NEXT for AUTISM in partnership with Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina.