April: Autism Awareness Month

For almost 50 years, April has been designated as Autism Awareness Month. A month-long celebration and a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and increase attention to those affected by autism.

What is Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability. Symptoms typically appear during early childhood and is usually a life-long condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, socially interact with others and can include repetitive behavior.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children are impacted by ASD. Thirty-five percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or completed secondary education. Studies have shown that steady employment can help ease symptoms and improve functioning in daily living. Individuals with ASD can often make excellent employees due to their careful attention to detail and quality of work. They just need to be given the opportunity.

How PRIDE Can Help
PRIDE Industries is committed to aiding adults with disabilities lead independent and fulfilling lives – by providing an opportunity, something many take for granted — the chance to be employed and contribute to the community. To learn more about PRIDE’s People Services, click here.

Providing Meaningful Opportunities

PRIDE Industries Intern Josh03

In 2013, Joshua Best, graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems and a concentration in Networking from Sierra College.  As many recent college graduates do, Josh had a difficult time finding employment.

“Unfortunately, the job market was not looking for someone with a lack of official work experience, few networking contacts, and a disability,” says Josh. Josh has autism.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. Autism spectrum disorders can lead to significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges depending upon the severity. As well, there is a long list of brilliant minds and talents who have made significant contributions throughout history despite (or maybe because of) being on the spectrum.

The local Department of Rehabilitation referred Josh to PRIDE Industries. During the summer of 2013, Josh began working with PRIDE’s Employment Services, a Job Developer, and a Job Coach. The team assisted him with interview training and job skills development. “Josh was extremely diligent with all of his employment preparation activities,” says Debbie Tomlinson, a PRIDE Job Developer. “Even though it was difficult, Josh worked tirelessly with me and my team to improve his interview skills.”

PRIDE Industries _ JoshHard work and dedication paid off, after a few months, Josh landed a paid internship with PRIDE Industries’ IT support services department. “It was awesome!” says Josh. He became part of PRIDE’s technical support center. Josh’s duties included responding to work order emails, updating software, web browser issues, and answering the helpline. “Those few months were incredibly nerve racking; it was both humbling and a fantastic learning experience.”

The IT department was so impressed with Josh’s work ethic, diligence, and dedication – they offered him a full-time position after the internship ended. Josh became a full-time PRIDE Industries employee in January 2015 and has been promoted twice. Josh is currently a help desk technician for PRIDE’s IT department.

Joshua’s next goal is to obtain his driver’s license and a car. In the meantime, he relies on PRIDE’s transportation to get to work and takes public transportation back home. “I continued to receive support services and advice,” says Josh. “In addition, while I pursue my own means of independent transportation, PRIDE has supported me by providing transportation in the morning from home to PRIDE.”

PRIDE is proud to employ and support individuals like Josh. All he required was a little support and a chance to prove himself through a paid internship.  These are simple things for an employer to provide, and they can make a world of difference.  For Josh, employment provided a path to independence and pride.  And that – as they say – is priceless.

Joshua shares his journey to PRIDE in the video below: