Training Program Helps Students With Autism Land Jobs

For the Virginia study, a control group of high-school seniors with autism remained in their regular schools, receiving their usual individualized education programs, while a treatment group spent the year in an intensive, custom-designed study and job-training program at a suburban hospital. The two hospitals participating in the study were Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Henrico County, Va., and Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Midlothian, Va.

Jennifer T. McDonough

Damien Jenerette became a pharmacy technician at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital.

At the beginning and end of each school day, the treatment group met in on-site classrooms where they learned job skills, as well as practical skills such as getting to and from work, navigating the hospital, asking for help, and accepting input from supervisors and co-workers. In between, the students rotated through a series of three internships, honing their skills and testing out which jobs best fit their strengths and personality.

Upon graduation, 87% of the treatment group landed hospital jobs such as pharmacy assistant and teacher's aide that paid above the minimum wage. Just 6% of the control group found jobs.

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