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Help Wanted: Jobs for Autism

A recent study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that half of young adults with autism are unable to find work in the 8 years after finishing high school.

Geoffrey Straughn is finishing his final classes and he just started his first job thanks to a unique program called “Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism.” For young adults with autism, finding work can be incredibly challenging.

At Project SEARCH interns spend classroom time learning life skills, but there is a strong focus on real-life job training.

David Kuhn PhD, Clinical Director at NewYork-Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, told Ivanhoe, “The mission is really to build the skills necessary for these individuals to move on beyond these doors to get competitive employment.”

Kuhn explains, “Our interns go through 3 rotations, 3 [sets of] 10 week rotations for a total of 600 work hours per year where they are placed at different sites across our campus getting a variety of different experiences.”

Interns range in age from 18 to 21 years old. They must have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, have no violent tendencies, be able to communicate and follow a one to two step schedule.

Project SEARCH intern, Geoffrey Straughn, told Ivanhoe, “Well I do need a schedule of what I do cause if I don’t have a schedule, I don’t know what the heck I’m supposed to do.”

Geoffrey’s new job is with one of the Yonkers New York District Attorney’s office, and he is one of the 70 percent who go on to find work.

Geoffrey’s mother, Judy Straughn, told Ivanhoe, “Geoffrey has grown a lot this year, he’s learning to do so many things, and he seems happy which is what I want.”

Project SEARCH has grown from a single program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996 to over 200 sites across the United States, Canada, the Unites Kingdom, and Australia.


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