Given the core challenges associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the areas of social, communication, and behavioral skills, and the lack of support available in many vocational, transition, community, and employment settings, seeking and obtaining competitive or supportive employment is a common struggle for individuals on the spectrum. The National Organization on Disability polls have recently noted that approximately 70% of individuals with a disability who would like to work are unable to find and maintain employment (Harris & Associates, 1998; Harris & Associates, 2000; Harris & Associates, 2004). In an effort to address the many roadblocks to employment success individuals on the autism spectrum may face, HANDS in Autism® founded the HANDSmade™ program.
The HANDSmade™ program is an initiative within the HANDS in Autism® Center that provides a structured work environment for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other social, communication, or behavioral challenges. Opportunities within the HANDSmade™ program not only provide assessment, teaching, and monitoring of outcomes related to employment and training, community participation, and living skills but also creates an environment for occupational growth, skill acquirement, and support leading to higher quality of life for participants as measure through individualized transition goals and outcomes. HANDSmade™ participants work independently and alongside or with the support of HANDS in Autism® staff on a wide variety of projects ranging from hospitality to data entry, filing, material assembly, and more. For example, when you order materials from the HANDS in Autism® store, you are ordering materials that have been handmade and filled by a HANDSmade™ employee.
The HANDSmade™ program has seen great success thus far in setting up mutually beneficial transition, postsecondary, vocational, training, and employment opportunities. In light of this success, we are looking to broadly, yet systematically, expand the program. If you or someone you know may be interested in participating in the HANDSmade™ program, consider completing an application below and feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.