Almost 50 percent of the children who enter Princeton Child Development Institute’s intensive behavioral intervention program before 60 months of age later make successful transitions to public schools, and 35 percent of all children, regardless of age at enrollment, make such transitions.

However, adults with autism who do not transition to public education require ongoing intervention; these learners complete their schooling at PCDI and enter the Institute’s Adult Life-Skills Program at age 21. One component of the Adult Life-Skills Program is Supported Employment.

The objectives of the program are two-fold. First, teaching a variety of work skills to adults with autism, enabling them the opportunity to work and become more independent members of the community. The second objective is to provide employers with motivated, productive employees and to place capable, qualified adults with autism in meaningful jobs with competitive wages.

Due to the challenges associated with autism, adults require certain types of support or assistance to acquire job skills. With the specialized services and training of the Supported Employment Program, adults with autism can acquire the key skills that are necessary to obtain meaningful employment. Before entering the job market, all PCDI-supported employment candidates learn a broad array of work skills in a “hands-on” work setting as well as ancillary skills such as navigating a job interview and workplace social interaction.

Individual strengths and interests are matched with jobs in the community, and PCDI Life Skills Coaches provide ongoing individualized instruction pertaining to appropriate dress, interpersonal skills, attendance, travel, and other skills that affect job performance. Examples of job placements through supported employment at PCDI include data entry, housekeeping, grounds and building maintenance, bulk mailing, filing, and lab preparation/cleaning.

The program boasts many success stories for both employees and community employers. The benefits to employers include employee supervision by PCDI staff, reduced training time, and low turnover and absenteeism. Community employers are invited to evaluate PCDI workers annually, as well as the Life Skills Coaches who assist their employees.

Employers’ comments include, “It is a pleasure working with the PCDI program and employees. I can see advancement in my employee over the past year.” “Coaches are always courteous and show a great deal of caring toward (learners) as well as the (work-site) employees,” and “The life coaches are always available to work with me to help (learner).” Many employers of people with disabilities have seen a positive impact on morale, retention, and corporate culture in their workplace according to Marketresearch.com.

Princeton Child Development Institute, 300 Cold Soil Road, Princeton. 609-924-6280. www.pcdi.org.

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