Vista Autism Services, a nonprofit that provides autism services to children and adults in Central Pennsylvania, and the PA Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) have formed a partnership that will help to enhance student career readiness and find greater employment success for individuals with autism, Vista Autism Services has announced.
Finding employment for those with autism is a critical concern for many parents. In its announcement of its partnership with OVR, Vista said that it sees student access to work-based learning – real work experiences at community-integrated worksites – as one of the greatest benefits. Research shows that students who participate in work-based learning are two and a half times more likely to be employed post-graduation.
Currently, Vista and OVR are working together to help 25 students by identifying the appropriate work experiences that highlight the strengths and needs of the students. Vista states that students who previously did not venture into the community during the school day are now participating in work-based learning in community businesses. Others students who started out working in the community for only 15 minutes at a time have increased their work duration to two hours.
One example of this successful partnership is Joey, a Vista student who is graduating in 2020. He participates in work-based learning at the Hershey Volunteer Fire Department.
“Previously, Joey completed work-based learning within different community businesses, however the tasks did not peak his interests or accentuate his areas of strength,” said Lisa Pellman, secondary transition coordinator & supervisor at Vista. “The opportunity at the Hershey Fire Department has allowed him to combine workplace readiness preparation with his passion for fire trucks and fire calls.”