September Logotech-4-Good Recipient
Helping young adults with autism get ready for work.
Among people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, 90 percent are unemployed, according to national data.
Nashville-based Autism Career Training wants to move that number by helping young people in its area learn both living and working skills.
ACT was named the Logotech-4-Good September recipient. They will receive up to $500 in promotional products printed with the organization's logo to help promote their work.
ACT provides vocational, pre-vocational, and independent living skills training along with speech and language therapy, ABA therapy, social groups and special education advocacy for their clients.
Currently, ACT serves trainees ranging from 19 to 25 years old in its weekday program, said Executive Director Matthew Powell.
Last summer, they offered a day camp program for school-age students. ACT also offers weekend and evening programs for these young adults.
As they become adults, these are skills that help their clients become more independent. For families, he helps provide peace of mind.
Preconceptions about young adults who fall in the autism spectrum lead some to think IT or physics are their preferred roles. That isn't true for all people with autism. ACT works to help families and trainees find a job of best fit for that trainee.
ACT works on skills including time and money management, cooking and doing laundry -- the basics of being an adult.
Employers do see the benefits of helping clients find purposeful work. "Employers for those beginning, first-step jobs have been really open to learning about us and letting us partner with them. We are getting things in line to take the trainees into the community," he said.
Launched in August of 2020, the program is very new, Powell said.
There is also a demand for more services, Powell said. Covid and the challenges of providing in-person classes during the pandemic have precluded faster growth.
Parents may be hesitant to put young adults with autism into a center-based program "because of covid and everything going on," he said.
They also see many successes for those entering the program, Powell added.
Employers show their willingness to hire clients and help train them for jobs and move them up in the workplace.
One young man started bagging groceries at a local supermarket chain, Powell said. That young man will soon learn how to stock shelves and expand his job responsibilities.
In the year since ACT began, Powell and his team have used social media and Google to help publicize their work. "A lot of it also takes place through resource fairs targeted for families -- for various disabilities and age brackets," he said.
Their first in-person open house is set for late September.
Learn more about ACT at its website, https://autismcareertraining.org.
To apply for the Logotech grant, go to the Logotech-4-Good page on our website.