Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers: Expanding Employment Opportunities

Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers (ISAW) began as a project to educate and support Kentucky Career Centers’ Business Service Teams in their understanding of issues relevant to autism and employment. In 2017, ISAW made its services available to all human resource professionals in the state. Through consultation, face-to-face training sessions, web-based modules, and ongoing services and supports, employers will be able to increase their competence and confidence in hiring and supervising workers on the autism spectrum.
Innovative Supports for Autistic Workers trainings are provided at no cost and can be delivered at a convenient location or by webinar. Participants will increase their skills and knowledge about interview techniques, problem solving, accommodations, and many other topics.
These trainings were developed by Bev Harp, whose understanding of autism comes from personal experience, peer-reviewed literature, and experience working with other autistic adults. Bev explains,

Unemployment is a huge problem for autistic adults nationwide. In Kentucky, unemployment rates hover around 85%, higher than any other disability. With this project, we want to address the reservations that employers may have, as well as preconceived ideas about autism and what autistic workers are able to do. There is a level of discomfort, even for some diversity-minded employers, with unfamiliar body language, or unusual ways of communication. With ISAW, we talk about some of the reasons behind autistic differences and provide opportunities for employers to ask questions. For some employers we’ve worked with, this is the first time they have ever (knowingly) engaged with autistic adults in the workplace. This is such an important step, getting to know us, recognizing that our skills and interests are as diverse as those of any other group. Autistic workers can bring unique perspectives and talents that businesses need. ISAW is here to help make those connections. Continue reading

Photo of a conference room.

KentuckyWorks featured at Regional Parent Summit on Autism

by Larry Taylor, Ed.D., Executive Director Kentucky Autism Training Center

The Kentucky Autism Training Center and the Kentucky Office of Autism collaborated to offer the Regional Parent Summit at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park in Greenup, Kentucky. Parents of individuals with autism, self-advocates, and professionals gathered on June 28 and 29th to learn, network, and develop relationships. Continue reading

Photo of flyer for conference

Unpuzzling Disability: Self Advocates Redefining Leadership Coming in July!

The purpose of this event is to bring together people with all types of disabilities who are interested in developing and sharing leadership skills. In order to have our voices heard and respected, we must create stronger networks for sharing and supporting one another. Kentucky has a few self-advocacy groups, but they tend to be small and disconnected from one another. We are hoping that the unconference will help to create some stronger bonds and help us all to think about new ways to work together on issues of importance to our communities.

The unconference format is a great equalizer. There is a structure behind the apparent lack of structure that encourages participation by those who may have found themselves disempowered in more formal settings. There is a strong sense of ownership and connection that comes from the shared responsibility of creating and leading sessions. It is an approach very well suited to the discussion of self-advocate leadership. —Bev Harp

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Latest HDI Fund for Excellence Projects: Winter 2015

We’re excited to share that in the last quarter, HDI funded the following two Fund for Excellence projects:
Dr. Dwight Irvin’s Understanding Language Environments in Community Settings in Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum and Laura Butler’s My Choice Kentucky- Exploring Supported Decision-Making in the Commonwealth. Continue reading