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Employment Program Helps Adults on Autism Spectrum

employment-programby Anthony McLean

Recently, ten participants graduated from an Adult Employment Pilot Project offered through Autism Resources Miramichi (ARM) and the Department of Post Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL).

The program’s goal was to target the deficits and strengths for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and help develop specific employment tools. The program had a classroom component with hands on experience followed by a job placement in the community. This is how I secured my job as a Contributing Reporter with Giv’er Miramichi.

“This program was beneficial and helped a lot of my peers and myself, and is leading towards a goal I want to do, which is to attend college,” said participant and graduate Apoline Martin.

Another participant and graduate, Tyler Richard said, “This was the high school experience I never had.”

Nichole Donahue was a Job Coach with the program. She taught Workplace Essential Skills combined with Soft Skills through role playing, video modelling, activities that teach, and more. It was done in a real workplace setting at the ARM Book Nook store in Douglastown.

employment-program-participants“I accompanied participants to their employment placements and provided the necessary supports on site. These supports could include: visual aids, scheduling, advocacy, and educating the employer on ASD,” Nichole said. “The challenges faced by the participants were largely related to the social aspect of the work environment as opposed to the actual work tasks to be performed. What we found is when participants are matched with an employer who best suits their individual skills and talents and provides an ideal environment for them to strive, great successes have been observed.”

Throughout the classroom component there were a wide variety of topics covered including:
• Soft Skills
• Independent Living Skills
• Healthy Lifestyle
• Numeracy
• Customer Service
• Conflict Resolution
• Personal Banking
• Local Outreach

“There are not enough resources available for adults living with ASD, and this program has been a step in the right direction to providing these services. Currently, we are trying to appropriate funding to continue this program,” Nichole said.

A prominent result of the program is a greater quality of life for participants and their caregivers.

The graduation ceremony held at the Rodd Miramichi River Hotel included employees from both ARM and PETL, participants’ family members, as well as some of the graduates new employers.

Hats off to all who made this program possible and congratulations to all participants!

anthony-bio-picAnthony W.J. McLean is a Contributing Reporter for Giv’er Miramichi and in his spare time he enjoys digital photography, writing and travelling. He has lived in Miramichi and Saint John, but is proud to call Miramichi home.

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