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Employer Partners

Supported Employment Program

Let Els for Autism Foundation support your business in the recruitment and onsite training of qualified and talented individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities excel in the areas of attendance, punctuality, job tenure, and adherence to policies and procedures. As a matter of fact, businesses will often tell us that their employees with autism are often the most reliable and hard working.

“Big corporations are sharing best practices of hiring individuals with autism, but many small businesses are seeing the value as well.”
– Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager, Els for Autism

Hire Trained Candidates

Els for Autism Foundation offers a 16-week Work Experience Training Program to prepare adults seeking employment in the municipality, hospitality or healthcare industries. This training program, offered in partnership with the Town of Jupiter, PGA National Resort & Spa, and Jupiter Medical Center allows participants to learn industry-specific work-skills. After completing the program, the graduates are ready to start their careers and add value to your business.

Benefit for Employers

Partnering with Els for Autism gives your business support in hiring employees with autism and other developmental disabilities whose talents align with your business goals. Our job coaches and clinical staff offer assistance during the on-boarding, orientation, skill development, and retention process. Additionally, the Foundation provides on-site training for managers and staff to support existing diversity initiatives and enhance workplace culture. Furthermore, businesses accommodating people with disabilities may qualify for tax credits and deductions. More detailed information may be found in the IRS publications.

Benefit for Employees

So often, who we are is what we do. Besides earning an income, employment is a necessary means for individuals to have a sense of independence, become part of their community, and share their strengths and talents.

Employer Training

For webinar resources, go to the Adult Services – Employer Resources tab.  Here you will find informative webinars such as:

  • What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
  • Recruiting Qualified Candidates with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Hiring and Onboarding Process
  • Keys to Successful Support & Providing Accommodations
  • Affecting Your Bottom Line – The Impact of Hiring Individuals with ASD
  • Sensitivity Training for Employers

For more information on the Supported Employment Program:

Fill out and submit the online form, or
Contact: Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager
Email: kerri.morse@elsforautism.org
Phone: 561-320-9523

Read about businesses taking part in the Supported Employment Program:

 

Joey D ™ Golf

Emmy at Joey D Fitness

When adults graduate from the Els for Autism Foundation Work Experience Program and find the right job with the right business, it is a win-win for the employee and employer.

Emmalee (Emmy) Bell graduated from The Learning Academy and attended the Work Experience Program in partnership with PGA Resort and Spa. During her Work Experience Program training, the departments she worked in were housekeeping and golf. Emmy had been previously trained to work on a computer, mainly scanning and data entry.  When seeking an employer with a position to match Emmy’s skills, Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager, at Els for Autism Foundation talked to Emerson Stratton, Director of Operations, at Joey D Golf.  After defining the job skills that were needed at Joey D Golf, Kerri determined Emmy was a perfect match.

Growing up in Massachusetts, Emerson had helped at a YMCA summer camp in that supported children with autism. He had a positive experience and knew individuals with autism possessed strong skills such as attention to detail.

“Communication was a challenge at first.”, said Emerson.  Emmy was provided with a task analysis of what she needed to do, a checklist, and a social story for her to be able to greet customers. She was then able to work well with the social narrative that outlines social expectations. Understanding that Emmy was non-verbal, Emerson was able to provide visual directions to get her set-up.  “Emmy can watch me do a task and then she will just do it.”, said Emerson, “I create something visual for her, give her the task, and she gets it done.”  Emmy has been trained to ask Emerson for help when she needs it.

Emmy at Joey D FitnessCurrently, Emmy works at Joey D Golf two days a week from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  Her job routine includes cleaning equipment and data entry to maintain client folders electronically.  Because this employment has been so successful, Kerri’s team is looking into other fitness centers in the area to expand her hours.

“When a company is small, tasks can be tailored to meet the needs of the employee and the employer, which makes the employment of Emmy at Joey D Golf a win-win situation.”, Kerri said.

Peter Piper Pizza

Sam at Peter Piper Pizza

When Thomas Thome, senior general manager, and Robert Mason, assistant manager, of Peter Piper Pizza in Greenacres, FL, heard about an opportunity to hire individuals on the autism spectrum, they welcomed the idea with open arms. Having family members with autism, the managers knew the impact they could make by employing someone on the spectrum.

“We want to be able to grow awareness in the community, as well as provide opportunities as an employer to individuals on the spectrum that may not regularly be given the experience to work without limitations in our society,” Thomas said.

Sam at Peter Piper PizzaOne of the individuals they hired was Sam Klinger, 22, who has worked at Peter Piper Pizza for the past eight months, about 12 hours a week.

Sam is a graduate of the Els for Autism Foundation Work Experience program, which prepares individuals with autism for paid employment. During Sam’s program session he worked for Jupiter Medical Center in the environmental services and dietary departments, an experience that helped prepare him for his current role at Peter Piper Pizza.

His responsibilities can vary depending on the shift, but Sam is often tasked with keeping the napkin and plastic utensils filled at the self-service counter and maintaining the cleanliness of the dining room area. On slower days he can be found in the game room, behind the prize counter, exchanging guests’ hard-won tickets for prizes.
Sam loves his job and the employee perk of a staff meal on his break. “I like the garlic knots and pepperoni pizza,” Sam said, adding that he enjoys “a salad every now and then.”
Sam at Peter Piper PizzaVictoria Jaimes, one of Sam’s co-workers, lights up when asked about Sam. “I love coming in to work a shift when he is working. He is just so positive and awesome to be around.”

Working with Sam is not only fun, but Thomas says it has helped him, as well as his team members, to strengthen their patience and communication skills. If Sam is struggling to complete a task, the staff has learned to slow down and reiterate or come up with another solution.

“The positivity and energy he brings to every shift cannot be traded or discounted. Sam has an integral role in our team’s dynamic and we are so fortunate to have him,” Thomas said.

Oceana Coffee Roasters

“We had such a great experience with Els for Autism events, with the community, and with our intern, it was no question if we could make it work with an adult, we were definitely going to give it a try.”  – Amy Duell, General Manager, Oceana Coffee Roasters

Oceana Coffee, Palm Beach County’s first specialty coffee roasting business based in Tequesta, Florida, had been engaged with the Els for Autism Foundation for several years, mainly through events in the local community. Oceana Coffee has been in business since 2009, with 2 cafe locations in the Tequesta area and a growing wholesale business. So, when they heard that there was an opportunity to work with an intern with autism from The Learning Academy at The Els Center of Excellence, they were eager to give it a go. When this rewarding experience with the intern ended, and an opportunity arose to hire an adult through the Foundation’s Adult Services Program, Oceana Coffee was quick to see if they could make it work successfully.

The hiring process started with defining the position and its requirements.  It was then a matchmaking process. They worked with the Foundation to interview several candidates until they found the person who could work well within the defined requirements of the position. The person they hired is Bryan Jaimes.  Bryan has been working at the roasting house since January 2019 and has been a valuable addition to their team. He started out with an eight hour per week schedule, and within two months was given an additional four hours because of his proven ability. Bryan is now working three days a week creating Oceana Coffee’s K-Cups and packaging them into boxes.

“He is super focused, super on point, and he always does a great job,” Amy Duell, General Manager at Oceana Coffee, said.  “He does every K-cup perfectly.”

Bryan participated in the Foundation’s Adult Services Work Experience Program, completing his 18-week program at Jupiter Medical Center. The program taught Bryan specific work skills and he now uses them to help him prosper at Oceana Coffee.

Bryan has a job coach, Paula Facey-Matthews, from the Els for Autism Foundation who visits Bryan at Oceana Coffee to ensure that he is staying on task and doing his job efficiently. Her involvement has faded greatly as time has passed since she went from being there with Bryan for each of his shifts to now visiting him once a week. “He has become very independent,” Paula said.

Amy stated, “The people helping [from the Foundation] are there every step of the way, any time of the day.”  This support level is what has made this process of hiring an individual on the spectrum so straightforward.

Since being hired, Bryan has grown with the company and has helped his co-workers grow as well. “I think every employee has learned patience from Bryan,” Amy says.

Over time, Amy has recognized Bryan’s deeper capabilities. “It opens up your eyes to see what’s possible,” Amy said.  It has been easy to give him more responsibilities and incorporate him into other daily tasks when his K-cup job isn’t as demanding.  “Bryan is a huge part of our team now,” she said.

Amy’s advice to other companies on the fence about hiring an adult on the spectrum is: “Don’t be scared to try it out, meet the individuals that are out there. It’s an amazing opportunity to help someone and to grow your team and your business.”

PGA National Resort and Spa

PGA National Logo

Appreciating a Great Partnership

In 2016, Els for Autism Foundation launched its inaugural Work Experience (WE) program with PGA National Resort and Spa and together they have continued to maintain it annually. To date, 43 participants with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have graduated from the program with PGA National Resort and Spa. “Partnerships, like the one we have with PGA National Resort and Spa, do not come by easily,” said Dr. Kerri Morse, Adult Services Manager, Els for Autism Foundation, “The passion we see in the employers, as well as in the employees, is what makes these partnerships so special.”

Sam Wickes, a graduate of the program, has been working at the resort in the golf department for three years. Sam works 21 hours weekly, and to his elation, mostly outside. He does many tasks for the department such as collecting golf balls from the driving range, preparing the golf carts with sand and small towels, and keeping the carts clean.  Sam says he, “used to be sloppy, inattentive, and less disciplined but that changes when you have a job to do.” When asked about his job, Sam responded, “Honestly, it’s awesome!”  Josh Cole, Director of Outside Operations, works with Sam in the golf department. Josh gave us his take on working with the different participants in the program, “They want to adapt, they want to help, and they really want to be there and do good things.”

Hunter Huff, another graduate from the program, says his favorite part of working at the resort is meeting new people and getting to know the different cultures. Hunter has worked in the stewarding department for a year and a half. He says the job helps to motivate him to work hard every day, not just at the resort but also in his personal life since he’s learned to be a better role model in the community. Hunter is currently working a six-hour shift three days a week. When he works, he likes to stay busy to “get the blood flowing”.

Brenna Collins, works in housekeeping/laundry at the resort three days a week. She is very detail-oriented as it pertains to her job, and she is deeply committed to staying on task. Her supervisor says that her attention to detail has taught those around her the importance of doing so with their own tasks. Anneris Martinez, Director of Housekeeping, tells us about her experience working with Brenna “She is very concentrated on what she is doing and very productive”, “Brenna takes responsibility of her area and gets her job done properly.”

The partnership does not stop with the six young adults that have been hired or with managing the annual program. The managerial staff at PGA National Resort and Spa has been instrumental in speaking with other local businesses about the program and about opening new opportunities in the community.  Other program graduates have been hired into local restaurants, other hotels, a sailing center, an electronics warehouse, a golf/sports training facility, grocery stores, a car wash, country clubs/golf clubs, a retail/convenience store, and a school district.  Having graduates knowledgeable and experienced in the stewarding, housekeeping, and golf departments gives them skills that are then applicable to many local businesses, and this is what makes the WE program collaboration with PGA National Resort and Spa such a great partnership.