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Welcome to the Massachusetts Employment First E-Newsletter

November 2015
In This Issue
Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Employment
Website about Autism Omnibus Act
In 2014, Governor Patrick signed the Autism Omnibus Act, expanding supports and services for individuals with autism living in Massachusetts. As a result of this important legislation, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be eligible for services from the Department of Development Services (DDS) without having an intellectual disability. Employment support will be an important part of the service array for individuals who will now be eligible for DDS services.

What do quality employment supports look like for individuals with ASD? 

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) cover a wide range of neurodevelopmental conditions. Core features include:
  • Difficulty with social interaction
  • Impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Restricted, repetitive, and stereotypical patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities
  • Difficulty processing sensory information
  • Difficulty planning movements
  • High levels of anxiety 
Individual working in a mailroom. Each person with ASD is unique. Even those who share a common diagnosis differ dramatically from in their skills, interests, motivation, ability to communicate, behavior, and social ability.  

The most important consideration in helping an individual with autism find a job is making the job match and developing an individualized plan for support in the workplace. Three broad areas must be considered:
  • The interests and skills of the person
  • His or her learning style
  • The environmental demands on the worker related to communication, sensory input, social interaction, and organizational norms
There are many reasons to be optimistic that employment options for people with autism will continue to improve. And you can help make this happen! We know a whole lot about effective employment supports. We also recognize that there are valuable strengths and skills that job seekers with autism can offer to employers, given a good job match: meticulous attention to detail, attraction to process-oriented jobs, and adherence to rules and honesty are just a few.

For more in-depth information about placement planning and support strategies, along with job development and hiring process tips specific to this population, read our Institute Brief. It includes a worksheet with guiding questions to inform your work:  Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Quality Employment Practices.
Other Tools and Resources
Watch this short video from the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence to hear varying perspectives about autism and employment:
ICI, in partnership with DDS, recently sponsored a two-part webinar series, presented by Dr. Scott Standifer, on the theme "Making Employment Happen for People with Autism." View the webinar archives:
Upcoming Training and Events
This online course will be offered in December. It is available 24/7 from December 1-22, and should take about six hours to complete. The cost is $20. To register, go to http://employmentfirstma.org/providertraining/
BIC logo This conference will be held December 3-4 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. Hosted by UMass Boston's School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, the BIC conference will challenge you to look at issues of social inclusion and exclusion in a new way.
It's a rare chance to see your field from the perspectives of those with different backgrounds but shared values. Don't miss Sen. Tom Harkin's closing keynote! 
Thanks to our sponsors, you can receive a $50 registration discount by entering the promo code " 50off". Limited spaces are available, so register soon!

Stay in Touch!

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