The Developmental Disabilities Council of Oklahoma (DDCO) has awarded the Autism Foundation of Oklahoma (AFO) a grant to support its mission to increase employment opportunities for individuals with autism and other disabilities. AFO hopes to reach all four quadrants of the state of Oklahoma within the first three years of the project, effectively including and accommodating individuals with autism in recruitment, hiring, and employment retention.
AFO will develop, implement, and market a 4-part training series to raise awareness of neurodiversity and effective management practices for participating employers. The training will be certificate-based and include membership into a network of trained employers for future candidates to consider.
“Finding meaningful employment after high school is a major source of concern for families across the state. More than half of young adults with autism remain unemployed and unenrolled in higher education two years after high school, which is a lower rate than young adults in all other disability categories. By increasing employer knowledge of autism and other related disabilities, AFO seeks to decrease the number of neurodiverse adults who are unemployed or under-employed in our state,” says Emily Scott, AFO Executive Director.
“The Developmental Disabilities Council of Oklahoma believes in the vision of this project as it pushes us closer to our mission of advancing communities where everyone has the opportunity to live, learn, work, and play where they choose. Employment is one of the most significant ways to improve an individual’s quality of life. It enables individuals to contribute to society through meaningful connections and economic sufficiency. DDCO is proud to partner with AFO in this effort,” states Jen Randle, DDCO Executive Director.
Additionally, AFO will develop a plan and infrastructure to provide ongoing support to employers who complete the training series, including requests for workplace accommodations assistance, sensitivity training, and navigating unique employee situations.
NOTE: The public is being asked to help AFO with a needs-based assessment for this project. These surveys should take you no longer than 5-10 minutes (each) to complete and AFO sincerely appreciates your participation.
Survey for individuals, family members, and caregivers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/employingtheneurodiverse
Survey for employers: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LPXXMPB
For questions or more information, contact Leah Harris, Project Coordinator, at LHarris@AutismFoundationOK.org.