ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)
|Thursday, July 13, 2006: 11:00 AM-12:15 PM|
|#1717- Meeting and Maintaining Employer Expectations: Employment Success through a Business Perspective|
|This panel discussion, will assist agencies and families in gaining the business perspective as it relates to employment for adults with autism. This panel will provide agencies and families with ideas for and the understanding of competitive employment and what is necessary to “sell” the potential employee in today’s market. Strategies for becoming a marketable service and successful integration into the workforce will be presented and discussed by the panel. Questions from the attendees will be addressed.|
|Presenters:|| - Jamie Douglas is the Managing Director of Adult Services for Eden Services in Princeton, New Jersey, currently providing employment and residential services to 94 adults with autism. Ms. Douglas has 27 years of experience which includes supervision of residential, respite, and home program services; coordination of parent training; and consultative services.
- Rick Alcantara is currently the Coordinator of Supported Employment Services for Eden W.E.R.C.S in Princeton, New Jersey. He has over fifteen years experience in providing services for adults with autism. Mr. Alcantara is responsible for securing and maintaining employment opportunities for adults with autism including job development marketing, vocational skills training, staff training and evaluations. Mr. Alcantara’s experience also includes providing consultative and respite services to families affected by autism. Mr. Alcantara also serves as coordinator of the Eden W.E.R.C.S Business Advisory Council and is member of the Association of Persons in Supported Employment (APSE).
- Joe Bendas is in large part responsible for the development of Eden WERCs community employment services program. Through his affiliation with Wawa Food Markets, he was the first community member to employ an adult with autism through this ground breaking program. Over 30 years later, Mr. Bendas is an Area Manager for Wawa Inc. Mr. Bendas has experience working with special needs in both residential and sheltered workshop programs. Mr. Bendas is a past COSAC Board Member and is a current Board Member of the C.J. Foundation for SIDS and the Health Care Ministry of St Paul’s in Princeton, NJ.
- Jerry Ford is currently employed by the insurance firm of Allen & Stults Co. as a Commercial Lines Account Manager. Mr. Ford actively promotes the needs of the local community through his involvement in many different organizations. Mr. Ford is a past president of the Princeton Corridor Rotary Club and is the current Chairperson of Eden WERCs Business Advisory Council. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he received a degree in Economics. Mr. Ford has also obtained the professional designations of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and of Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI).
Each year the need to provide and secure appropriate employment services for adults with autism becomes a more vital issue. Agencies providing employment services must consider how to teach successful employment skills and provide sufficient levels of support in the community based on the needs of each individual it serves. In addition agencies must become more resourceful in a climate of limited funding in an effort to provide quality employment services. Parents of adults must advocate in their educational settings as well as access community support when searching for adult employment services for their child.
A critical aspect of successful employment for adults with autism is learning to work with the local business community to form successful partnerships. Both agencies and parents must learn to adopt a “business mindset” when teaching the necessary skills for successful community employment. There are specific skill sets which are necessary to each individual job. It is the responsibility of the parent or agency to successfully teach theses skills and monitor there ongoing quality.
Many businesses realize that community service is a vital part of their corporate image. Most businesses donate time, goods or services as part of their belief in giving something back to the community. Different strategies are required when a local business is asked to employ an individual with autism in the same capacity as any typical employee. Although many businesses are socially conscious, employers must always watch the bottom line and require that each employee perform his or her duties at an acceptable level of performance. The agency must assume the responsibility of providing the necessary supports to ensure that quality and productivity levels are maintained.
This presentation will outline how an agency can best structure its organization to work within the business mind set. Points will be covered reflecting the steps that agencies must take to move from a “help us” to a “work for you” service provider. Areas to be covered by this presentation will be:
Learning Objectives will include ~The history of developing employment services and how the business community impacts the direction agencies move.
~How the development of a Business Advisory Council can assist a human services organization to think more like a business when assessing employment options for adults with autism.
~What the expectations of a business are and how provider agencies can access and maintain employment in the larger work force.
~How an agency can better develop and market their employment services in an effort to secure competitive jobs for adults with autism.
Through this panel discussion, it is intended that agencies and families begin to gain the business perspective as it relates to employment for adults with autism. This panel will provide agencies and families with ideas for and the understanding of competitive employment and what is necessary to “sell” the potential employee in today's market. Strategies for becoming a marketable service and successful integration into the workforce will be presented and discussed by the panel. Questions from the attendees will be addressed.
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