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Your Dollars@Work: Networking and Working for Women with ASD

The difficulties in finding employment for adults with autism are well known, but not a lot of focus has been directed specifically at young women with autism trying to prepare for and find employment. Autism Speaks, through our Community Grant program, funded a project based at Yale University that addresses this very issue.

The following blog is written by Kathy Koenig M.S.N. of the Yale Child Study Center:

"Lean Out: Networking and Working for Women with ASDs" was a workshop designed to help women diagnosed with an ASD make connections and pursue work opportunities. The grant provided funding for curriculum design, design of other learning materials, financial support for facilitators and job coaches, and transportation stipends for women attending the program.

The curriculum was designed by Kathy Koenig, M.S.N., of the Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine and Jane Thierfeld Brown, Ed.D., University of Connecticut Law School. The curriculum consists of eight learning modules for facilitators and participants to cover together, in group settings and in individual counseling sessions as well. Topics covered include: learning about personal strengths and challenges; discovering what kind of work would be best for me; learning about workplace culture; learning how and why networking is important; and developing skills for job finding/interviewing & follow up.

Eighteen women attended the program at the Yale Child Study Center over the course of a spring and fall session in 2015. We had lively discussions and practiced creating resumes, interviewing and learning how to use networking skills to discover job opportunities. Following classroom work, participants were offered opportunities to work in real life settings to practice skills, accompanied by a trained work coach. We learned a lot about the benefits of working as well as the barriers to finding and keeping employment.

The program includes a curriculum guide and a workbook for participants. Slides were created to provide visuals as a jumping off point for discussion. Questions about the program can be directed to Kathy Koenig at kathy.koenig@yale.edu. Materials used for the program (curriculum, manual and presentation) can be downloaded here.

Learn more about the Family Services grants we offer here.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.