If you are the parent of a child with autism between 3-8 years old who attends preschool or school and/or receives behavior intervention services, you are invited to take a 5-10 minute survey regarding parental involvement in children's educational services. This research will hopefully inform education and intervention professionals as to how to best involve parents in their child's services. The project is being conducted through the San Jose State University Department of Special Education and has been approved by the SJSU Institutional Review Board. All responses are entirely confidential.
Participants will have the option of entering a drawing to win one of two $25 gift cards upon completion of the survey.
To take the survey, copy & paste this link:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the graduate student researcher, Rachel Schuck, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global technology group Hewlett Packard’s newest cybersecurity employee spent the past two years grilling burgers at McDonald’s. Like many on the autism spectrum, the young man in his 20s possessed an impressive range of IT skills to match or even outshine most university graduates.
But unlike the average graduate, he didn’t have the social skills to make it past an interview. This is a common stumbling block for those on the spectrum, according to the psychologist Jay Hobbs from Specialisterne – a non-profit agency finding employment for people with autism.
“Being able to communicate and sell yourself was the barrier for him,” he says.
“But he was absolutely excellent. He’s one of those young men who is self-taught, so he was a very capable guy.”
An estimated 230,000 Australians live with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is defined as a developmental condition that affects the way a person relates to their environment and their interaction with other people.
The lifelong condition is well recognised and treated among children, but there is less support for adults with autism. Those on the spectrum describe meeting “the cliff” after secondary school – likening the sudden lack of assistance to falling off a cliff.
Recent research attests to the lack of support: the labour force participation rate is about 42%, compared with 53% labour force participation rate for people with disabilities and 83% for people without disabilities.
Jeanette Purkis, an author and advocate for the autism community, says many people on the spectrum struggle with job interviews as they often find the sensory experience and social interactions in an interview challenging. “Being in front of three people who are essentially deciding their future and firing questions they aren’t prepared for off at them is unlikely to enable an autistic person to demonstrate their skills,” she says.
“Autistic people often do much better in recruitment processes which enable them to demonstrate their skills over time and not in a high stress situation like an interview,” Purkis adds.
Hobbs says it’s an opportunity missed. “When I was working as a teacher in Queensland, I met some really interesting people who had some excellent skills, who in some cases after secondary schools just sat at home and wrote on blogs.
“They weren’t able to get opportunities to get a job largely because of the interview process. Someone with autism finds it a bit difficult to communicate and sell themselves as opposed to actually doing what the job would be – programming or testing software for example.”
Yet the tide is turning for unemployed or underemployed people with autism. More companies are ditching the stereotypes of Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, and realising the benefits of employing people on the autism spectrum.
Big names include mining company Weir Minerals, cloud computing firm Salesforce, Bankwest and Hewlett Packard. Software multinational SAP has even committed that people with ASD will account for 1% of its global workforce by 2020.
The director of human resources at SAP Australia and New Zealand, Lisa Christy, says the goal is consistent with the percentage of people on the spectrum in the general population.
“SAP believes that a cornerstone element of innovation is the diversity of those who participate in the creative process and the perspectives they bring to the table, including the perspective of those on the autism spectrum,” she says.
The effort to broaden the company’s diversity beyond race or gender started in 2012 when SAP Labs India hired five employees on the spectrum. Successful pilot projects in India and Ireland demonstrated the positive impact of empowering autistic people with a job that played to their strengths.
Research points to the clear corporate advantages of hiring autistic staff, including a surge in innovative and creative thinking.
A study by Curtin University’s school of public health found that the cost of employing an autistic person was comparative with the cost of employing a non-autistic person. The research involved almost 100 employees and 59 employers, who reported benefits from employing staff with ASD, including a high attention to detail and when compared with staff without ASD, a higher work ethic and quality of work.
Add to the momentum, comments by the PayPal founder, Peter Thiel, who has long been a proponent of hiring staff with autism and Asperger’s to avoid what he describes as “herd-like thinking and behaviour”. In his book Zero to One, Thiel says people with Asperger’s have a single-mindedness that gives startups a unique advantage
This theory stems from the idea of neurodiversity, a term first coined by the Australian sociologist Judy Singer, who sees autism as a natural brain variation, not a brain disorder.
Dr Tele Tan is not surprised by the corporate world’s increasing interest in hiring autistic people. Tan, from Curtin’s autism academy for software quality assurance, oversees a weekend coding club for secondary students aged 12 to 16. The club, like others across Australia focusing on IT and robotics, is where autistic teenagers explore their technical talents while also picking up social skills.
Tan’s students typically have high attention to detail and an ability to concentrate on tasks and do repetitive tasks, making them ideal for companies searching for an innovative edge.
“There is anecdotal evidence that people on the spectrum have a huge innovation behind them – out of the box thinking, a non-traditional way of thinking,” he says. “They can potentially solve big problems.”
But autistic people aren’t limited to the IT industry. Specialisterne has recently launched the Autism and Agriculture employment scheme to develop career paths for those with autism in specialist animal care roles. The organization is also taking aim at other industries, including art and engineering. It’s the start of a new frontier for people with autism.
UT’s Korn Learning, Assessment, and Social Skills Center will soon accept applications forPostsecondary Autism Support Services, a new program developed to support the needs of UT students with autism spectrum disorders.
The program will officially launch in fall 2017. Current UT students and high school seniors applying to be UT freshmen next fall are eligible to apply.
PASS was piloted more than a year ago and comprises four components: a weekly two-hour course for credit to develop and practice important academic and life skills; weekly one-hour sessions of individualized hands-on support; peer mentoring; and on-going collaboration with faculty, staff, and parents throughout the duration of the program.
PASS program services will be provided by advanced doctoral students and interns in the Department of Psychology under close supervision by the KLASS Center’s licensed psychologists.
Brian Wilhoit, director of the KLASS Center.
“Most college students with an ASD diagnosis are very intelligent, but they often struggle with social and communication skills,” said Brian Wilhoit, director of the KLASS Center, which is housed in UT’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. “One of our psychologists, Carolyn Blondin, put together a small pilot project over a year ago for three UT students with ASD to provide a structured curriculum to cultivate and practice social, communication, time management, and organizational skills. The PASS program developed from that pilot project.”
The program will be available for both new 2017 entering students as well as currently enrolled UT students. The application will be available November 1 on the KLASS Center website. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2017.
To be considered for participation, new students for 2017 must:
Wilhoit anticipates only five to six students will be accepted for the next academic year.
“Many students with ASD are missing services that can be helpful,” said Wilhoit. “We feel the PASS program will fill a need here at UT for those students diagnosed with an ASD who are struggling to get through or who may be falling through the cracks.”
Brian Wilhoit (875-974-6395, email@example.com)
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org)
The shortened legislative calendar is affecting a number of important bills that impact people with disabilities, including the RAISE Act. Now more than ever, advocates must act to ensure families receive the requisite resources required to be effective caregivers for aging loved ones and those with disabilities. If passed, the RAISE Act would establish essential supports that will help to reduce the burden of family caregiving. Act now! Contact your congressional representative today and urge them to pass the RAISE Act.
The Autism Society needs your help to get H.R. 4919 to the floor for a full House vote! Kevin and Avonte's Law would equip law enforcement, first responders, nonprofits, and community organizations with vital training and resources to eliminate wandering incidents involving individuals on the autism spectrum and other disabilities. The bipartisan bill currently has 73 cosponsors but continues to languish in committee. Without a vote, wandering incidents will continue to impact families and advocates will have to restart the entire legislative process in the next Congressional session. Let your voice be heard - help make this critical piece of legislation a reality for families and communities. Tell Congress to say yes to Kevin and Avonte’s Law.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Autism Society of Central Texas Executive Director Suzanne Potts said their new Autism training video will be offered to first responders all across the country to use free of charge.
Arlington Police have already signed on.
"They've required all of their department and staff...anyone to take the video, watch it and sign off that they saw the video," Potts said.
Potts explained the need for the video.
"49% of kids with Autism wander. And 91 % of kids that drown in the United States are kids with Autism. So we are seeing shocking statistics nationally about kids within our community that are injured and adults that are getting arrested or detained," Potts said.
As addressed in the video, many times first responders mistake Autism for drug use. The video teaches first responders to communicate in a different way when dealing with Autism.
"A lot of times they say 'look me in the eye' or 'look at me' and some of our Autism community have a hard time with eye contact. And so that may not be an indicator of drug use, it may be that they have Autism and they need some extra time," Potts said.
"Part of that training, a big part of that training is for us to understand when to back off and how to use different techniques and approaches on properly assessing our patient," said Captain John Collins with the Round Rock Fire Dept.
Collins has a special needs daughter so he helped with the video and he's been working with Williamson County on their training as well.
"I don't go to work and I don't go on a call to go help myself. I'm going to help other people. Part of me going to help that other person, I need to know as much as I possibly can about any type of person whether it's heart conditions, stuff with the lungs, anything like that and this is another component that will help every first responder do their job a little bit better," Collins said.
The Autism Society says the next step is to launch the video nationally. It will be available free of charge for first responders. The Autism Society is hoping to produce more training videos as well.
Anticipating the beginning of the school year can create anxiety for both family members and for their sons/daughters on the autism spectrum. Concerns surround whether your son/daughter will be successful in school and whether the new staff will have a solid understanding of autism spectrum disorders and of your son/daughter. At times, you may know the staff and have a good working relationship with them. At other times, staff is unknown and expectations for your son/daughter are unclear. Below are a few tips to help you become a proactive and positive advocate for your son/daughter. Read More
The Autism Society is thrilled to share with you the release of a new book entitled A Boy Named Penguin by Aaron LaPedis. 40% of the proceeds from book sales will be donated back to The Autism Society. The book follows the story of Logan who is an epic kid with an epic imagination, and an amazing imaginary secret identity. When trouble arises at the local zoo, Logan makes a startling change...and as Super Penguin, he soars in and saves the day! Join Logan and his sidekick Giraffey in their very first adventure! More info HERE
Tell Congress to say yes to Kevin and Avonte's Law (H.R. 4919)! Each year, countless families experience sheer horror when a loved one with disabilities wanders from home or a safe community setting. While many of these individuals are eventually located, not every situation ends with a positive result. Kevin and Avonte's Law seeks to address the growing number of wandering occurrences nationwide by providing education and training to law enforcement, first responders, and the public at large. With wandering behaviors impacting 49 percent of children with autism across America, the Autism Society and representatives from the Autism Safety Coalition are working together to urge House members to join their Senate colleagues in passing Kevin and Avonte's Law. Learn more and encourage your legislator to say Yes to Kevin and Avonte's Law.
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