by Amber Donaldson, Unite Contributing Writer
As your child with Autism makes the transition into the workforce, there are several places in town that can assist your family. The first resource is through the transition specialist at your child’s school. They will be the best resource for getting you headed in the right direction with this process. They have a transition guide that lists many resources that will be very helpful. You can also reach out to your case management agency whether it is Abilities First, WCPartners, CCLinks, etc. for additional help with resources available. I’ve been able to compile a small list of some area agencies that can help with this transition as well.
The Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (VR) main mission is “to provide opportunities and resources to eligible individuals with disabilities leading to successful employment.” Their services include assistance in finding you a job, developing job-seeking skills, guidance in choosing suitable employment, vocational training to prepare you for employment, and many other services. For a full list of services visit: https://dese.mo.gov/adult-learning-rehabilitation-services/vocational-rehabilitation.
Preferred Employment Services
I spoke with Lori Dunn, Manager of ASD at Preferred Employment Services, and she shared that Preferred Employment Services helps clients with Autism find a job. They have a job coach that can help onboard the employee by going to work with the employee and helping them learn their job expectations. When both the employer and the employee feel comfortable with the progress that the employee has made, they will step back and be available for further assistance if needed. This helps make the transition to the workplace a little easier for all parties involved. They also have a client handbook that talks about de-escalation planning (if needed) and more information can be found on their website at www.pfh.org.
Missouri Job Center
I spoke with Tammy Casey, Workforce Development Specialist at City of Springfield, Missouri Career Center, and she informed me that after potential employees with special needs have completed vocational rehabilitation, they can come into one of their two locations here in Springfield and get help registering on the Missouri Career Center website at: https://www.springfieldmo.gov/1007/Workforce-Development . They have several assistive technology devices that help ensure that the center is accessible to all including blind/low vision equipment and hard of hearing/ deaf equipment.
Their mission is to remove barriers and empower independent living for all people with disabilities. They have programs in place that focus on teaching independent living skills to high school juniors and seniors through up to a year after graduation.https://empowerabilities.org/
The Arc Employment Solutions
The Arc offers many services including career planning, help with job placement, job coaching, transitional services, and even career discovery. Find out more information at: http://www.thearcoftheozarks.org/employment-solutions
Alternatively, if you own a business and you’re wanting to find out how to help those in the Autism community, Ozarks Inclusion Partnership holds a workshop that helps local area businesses learn about the importance and benefits of inclusion of individuals with disabilities.