Nate struggled to keep jobs for long. By the time he was introduced to SARRC’s Employment Services team, he’d had more jobs than he could count. Nate, 27, needed a job that could keep him busy all day — he hated to be bored. And at SARRC, he found people who worked to understand what he wanted out of a job and helped him build his skills.
SARRC’s Employment Services are focused on ensuring adults with autism understand their value in the workplace, are confident and capable in applying and interviewing for jobs, and have the support they need to succeed.
A WIDE RANGE OF SERVICES
“An individual can come to SARRC and receive services in a variety of areas,” explains Paige Raetz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of teen and adult services at SARRC. Whether a person with autism hasn’t been able to find a job or is struggling to advance in their career, SARRC can help with assessments, writing a resume and developing interview skills. Then, once the client gets a job, SARRC offers on-site job coaching to help ensure they succeed."
Raetz says the program isn’t just for those who already have a lot of developed skills. “We work with a variety of people who want meaningful employment,” she says.
Meaningful is an important word.
“What we mean is that it is something the individual wants to be doing. This isn’t just job placement,” she explains. “We want to discover what you are good at and passionate about. Meaningful employment is paid and helps you live a more independent life. It’s something you want to pursue and find value in.”
For Nate, SARRC’s assistance with practice interviews and helping him connect with the right employer was valuable.
“They’re very helpful and patient people,” he says.
Nate is currently employed at SSP America, where he works in food preparation and production, portioning and cutting ingredients. It’s a job he enjoys — particularly because it keeps him constantly busy — and it’s the longest job he’s held in a very long time.
BUILDING BETTER WORKPLACES
When SSP America, a company that’s on a mission to bring great restaurants to airports, learned about the opportunity to partner with SARRC and hire adults with autism in its restaurants, leaders asked, “Why can’t we do that? Why wouldn’t we?”
“Sometimes you don’t even know you have the ability to make a difference,” says Lieryn Jacobs, a regional human resources manager for SSP America.
Over the past five-plus years, the company has hired 10 SARRC clients. The key, she says, is being open and working to find the right fit for each person.
“Every adult with autism has their own niche, and that niche needs to be discovered,” says Jacobs, whose son received a late diagnosis of autism a few years ago. “When you find something that works, it
can benefit everyone.”
Jacobs adds that there’s a benefit to having neurodiversity in the workplace.
“You can see changes in the mindset of other employees — they know they work for a company that takes care of people,” she notes. “And that helps with morale.”
And for organizations that need help with training, SARRC is there.
“Our partners are committed to working with us in supporting our clients,” Raetz says. “We provide the business with information and education.”
And if challenges arise, SARRC’s job coaches engage with the individual and employer to get ahead of potential issues and find creative solutions that work for everyone.
Jacobs encourages companies to get involved.
“Every company, no matter the industry, has a job that can be done by somebody who’s keen on consistency,” she says. “It’s all about creating the environment of success.”
That’s worked for Nate: “They allow me to be myself and do my job,” he says. “I can be in my own comfort zone.”
In Good Company
Is your organization interested in becoming an employment partner with SARRC?
“We want to effectively represent all the industries where someone might want to work,” says Paige Raetz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, director of teen and adult services at SARRC. “So, we’re always looking for new partners — businesses committed to supporting diversity and understanding what autism is and what it isn’t.”
You’ll be in good company, too.
Learn more about SARRC's Employment Partnerships program here Opens a New Window. .