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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Employer Training Bill in California

In The Politics of Autism, I write:
When disabled people reach their 22d birthday, they no longer qualify for services under IDEA. ... People in the disability community refer to this point in life as “the cliff.” Once autistic people go over the cliff, they have a hard time getting services such as job placement, vocational training, and assistive technology. IDEA entitles students to transition planning services during high school, but afterwards, they have to apply as adults and establish eligibility for state and federal help. One study found that 39 percent of young autistic adults received no service at all, and most of the rest got severely limited services.
While the calendar turns to May and away from April’s focus as Autism Awareness Month, awareness must turn to the limited job opportunities that those living with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) face year-round. Ninety percent of individuals with ASD are either unemployed or underemployed. In California, only six out of every 100 young adults with ASD have any form of competitive employment.
Nevertheless, there is encouraging news. Employers are becoming aware of how they can provide support to students with autism. Assembly Bill 2840 seeks to provide funding from the state to support programs that educate employers on hiring students with disabilities.

Last year, my employer, Eskaton, launched a program with several workforce development partners to provide job skill training to young adults living with autism. In addition, this effort provided socialization and mentoring along with uniquely special opportunities to engage with seniors.
I am encouraged to see a state proposal making its way through the legislative process, authored by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio that will help train employers on how best to work with individuals with ASD. This manual for employers is an encouraging step to help individuals living with autism garner and retain long-term employment. The layers of mutually beneficial solutions are compelling and hopeful.
Official summary from the Assembly Appropriations Committee:
This bill creates the Breaking Barriers in Employment for Adults with Autism Pilot Program (Program) in the counties of Sacramento and Los Angeles to increase long-term employment opportunities for young adults with autism. The California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) will administer the three-year Program, which must meet specified goals, including the creation of a manual to train employers in a) building capacity for adults with autism and b) the contents of that manual. The bill states the Program will be funded by a yet-to-happen appropriation by the Legislature.