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Student with Autism finds Employment Success

Autism Spectrum Disorder

At 17 years old, Bill* wanted greater independence and to go to college, but wasn’t sure how to get there. Autism made it hard for Bill to conceptualize the many steps in a complex task, so planning out the myriad of actions he needed to do to get from high school to college and beyond was oftentimes overwhelming.

Bill learned of the Maryland PROMISE project through an advertisement, and with the encouragement of his case manager, enrolled in the free program. PROMISE stands for Promoting the Readiness Of Minors in Supplemental Security Income. The Maryland PROMISE project is one of six model demonstration programs funded through the US Department of Education to provide coordinated services and supports to youth with disabilities receiving supplemental security income (SSI) benefits and to their families in order to improve the education and career outcomes. By having a team of supports, these youth with disabilities and their families can focus on their education and dreams, eventually reducing their reliance on SSI and creating for themselves a bright future.

A PROMISE staff Case Manager and Family Employment Specialist began to work with Bill and get to know him, working to identify his strengths and interests. They found that Bill had a strong interest in martial arts, wrestling, and earning his driver’s license. The staff helped Bill develop a Family Plan, outlining and organizing his immediate goals and the many steps associated with each:
·       Transfer to a new high school by next year
·       Research colleges that offer wrestling program scholarships
·       Research the steps necessary to obtain a driver’s license

After outlining his goals and tasks, Bill and his Case Manager began to work on each one. Together they researched the requirements for transferring to a new high school within Baltimore City. Bill told his Case Manager that Penn State was his dream college, and together they researched to see if it offers wrestling scholarships and what it takes to get one. They also looked at Maryland’s driver’s license requirements and created a list of steps Bill would need to take to get his license.

Getting a job wasn’t on Bill’s immediate list of goals, but after working with his PROMISE team, he realized that earning money was a necessary step to accomplishing many of the steps outlined in his goals, including taking driver’s education classes and purchasing a car. To improve his chances of getting a job, Bill needed a resume, so he worked with his Family Employment Specialist to outline his work history and practice interview skills.

Bill is now proudly working multiple shifts each week at Little Caesars and saving his money. He continues to meet regularly with his PROMISE team, as they work together to make his dreams a reality.

*real name changed at the individual’s request

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