Project Description

The Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement employment training package addresses the need for high-quality training so that young adults with autism can gain meaningful employment.

Known as PSAE, the training package is disseminated nationally to organizations and educational institutions, and is the result of a long-standing collaboration among NEXT for AUTISM, Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina.

Program Innovations

  • The PSAE package is used to train job coaches and employers, as well as individuals with autism
  • NEXT for AUTISM leveraged Project SEARCH’s excellent, high school-to- work training curriculum for people with developmental disabilities, combined it with the TEACCH Autism Program’s expertise, and developed this unique, autism-specific training package
  • PSAE was designed for dissemination national and international to Project SEARCH programs
  • A NEXT for AUTISM Specialist position, created for Project SEARCH, facilitates the successful distribution of the PSAE package to national partners

Program Impact

  • Since 2016, Drexel University, the Y.A.L.E. Schools and The Arc of Westchester have created Project SEARCH programs using this autism enhancement package
  • Six additional sites will adopt the package by 2018, including the University of California at Irvine and the University of Washington in Seattle
  • Grounded in Project SEARCH’s proven curriculum, the autism enhancement package will expand capacity to serve people with autism internationally

Program History

The Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement package grew out of a vocational and internship program that NEXT for AUTISM founded and operated from 2011 to 2016. Called Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism (PSCA), that demonstration program provided high school seniors with employment skills, workplace immersion, and job placement. Students participated in three internship rotations at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and were coached in work, communications, interpersonal and other life skills.

Collaborating with a local school district, a regional social services organization, and local businesses, NEXT for AUTISM

  • Provided the PSCA staff with training on specific strategies for working with the autism population
  • Convened a Business Advisory Council of local business leaders who hired and supported interns
  • Provided consultations & presentations to businesses to expand their capacity to engage people on the autism spectrum

One year after graduation


Acquired competitive jobs