Rehab Matters - Summer 2019

Summer 2019 ➤ Rehab Matters ➤ 19 40 employees, Michael was the only one on the spectrum. Advocate for alternative hiring methods M any employers approached on Michael’s behalf were also unaware of the barriers creat- ed by traditional hiring practices, such as the use of on-line applications and standardized face-to-face interviews. Small to medium-sized businesses, such as the local fast food restaurant that hired Michael, were often more receptive to the use of alternative hir- ing methods. The supported interview and the working interview are the two most effective types of interviews for persons on the spectrum. Supported interview Many people on the spectrum struggle in traditional interview settings which emphasize verbal communication eye contact, and an ability to understand and respond to often subtle social cues. During his job search, Michael partic- ipated in three supported interviews that were attended by his ES. Though Michael took the lead in responding to each employers’ questions, the ES supported Michael by prompting and re-phrasing questions and responses and probing for greater details when needed. The ES also elicited feedback from the employer to gain insight into hiring decisions. Working interview Working interviews create a more nat- ural working environment and offer candidates the opportunity to demon- strate that they can successfully per- form tasks associated with the role. Michael participated in one working interview that involved stocking and facing shelves. Though the experience increased Michael’s confidence in his ability to complete the job, he was ulti- mately not hired for the position. When Michael did secure paid part-time em- ployment cleaning at a local restaurant, the employer adapted their traditional hiring practices and expressed inter- est in job carving for Michael, which would involve modifying the tasks assigned so that he could successfully perform them while meeting the em- ployer’s needs. Finding the right fit is essential Finding the right fit between employer and employee is essential. Job carving work best when an employee’s skills and abilities match an employer’s specific need. In Michael’s case, addi- tional cleaning support was a desired service sought after by Michael’s em- ployer. When hiring managers express values that are consistent with inclu- sivity and respect for diversity, there is also a greater likelihood of a success- ful employment placement. Indeed, in Michael’s case, the hiring manager indicated that he “believes in working with people who have disabilities” and was receptive to accommodations and on-site coaching supports. When asked in a recent follow-up survey to indicate what they learned from employing a person with ASD, Mi- chael’s employer noted that they felt well-equipped to hire, train, provide accommodations for, and retain em- ployees on the spectrum. When asked in a follow-up survey what he thought of his work, Michael indicated that he was very satisfied with his job. On-site coaching supports must be flexible and available As is the case withmost employers who hire participants in supported employ- ment programs, Michael’s employer incurred no financial costs as a result of Michael’s employment. Accommo- dations consisted primarily of adjusted work schedules, modified job tasks and training supports. Michael’s employer rated on-site coaching supports as the most critical to their employee’s suc- cess. A job coach attended at least a portion of all of Michael’ shifts in his first few weeks of employment and as- sisted in the following ways: ➤ Assisted training and orientation by modelling job tasks, prioritiz- ing job duties and problem-solv- ing work-related issues ➤ Supported communication between the manager and the employee ➤ Initiated the development of nat- ural supports with other employ- ees ➤ Provided positive reinforcement plus direct and clear feedback to increase motivation and confi- dence at work When working with people on the spectrum, successful placements are often retained as a result of commu- nication with all parties, flexible and available coaching supports, the es- tablishment of natural supports, and the provision of appropriate accom- modations. In Michael’s case, though on-site supports began to fade after the first month of employment, over a year later, regular follow-up and direct com- munication with Michael, Michael’s family, and Michael’s employer remain consistent. Supports should not be linear or short-term Flexible, ongoing support is critical to maintaining job opportunities for people on the spectrum. Outcomes are optimized when communication is clear, direct and consistent plus concurrent skills development and employment support services are per- son-centered. Over the last 35 years, Leads has found these strategies to be the most effective when assisting peo- ple on the spectrum to find and main- tain employment.