Launched in 2008 and completed in September 2013, the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders Project recognized Autism Delaware’s adult vocational services as one of 10 effective programs nationwide. Run by SEDL, formerly called Southwest Educational Development Laboratory and now known simply as SEDL, the five-year study focused on programs that improved employment services and outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorders.
Autism Delaware’s program, called Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation, known as POW&R, includes community-based vocational services and competitive, supported, and self-employment plus social, volunteer, internship, and recreational opportunities for adults with ASD.
When SEDL began watching POW&R’s effort, the program had been set up only the year before and supported two individuals in New Castle County. Today, POW&R employs 30 direct support professionals, and vocational and transition specialists who work with 80 individuals with ASD across the state.
POW&R succeeds with help from local businesses and organizations that employ Delawareans with ASD. “The key to our success,” says POW&R Director Katina Demetriou, “is we work with everyone involved to guarantee positive placement. Our clients make excellent employees. They’re reliable, efficient, honest, outcome-driven, and quick learners, able to retain learned skills and fill a range of employment needs. And our employers define the job description so we’re able to find the best fit. Plus, we minimize the stress of the transition to promote a positive outcome all around."
For more information, go to autismdelaware.org.