Transitional Aged Youth and Young Adults:
Kerry’s Place recognizes that times of transition can be especially stressful and challenging for children and youth with ASD and their families. As youth transition to adulthood, planning is required to best meet their needs, strengths and interests, and the identified goals of the youth and/or family to support independence, and improve quality of life.
As a result, a range of transition supports and services were offered virtually to meet the varying needs that evolve over time, including those highlighted below:
- There were 104 participants in the Young Adult Project (YAP) that supported adults 18 years or older with ASD looking to enter the workforce, retain meaningful employment, or pursue post-secondary education.
- There were 109 participants in the Employment Works Canada (EWC) program, which offered employment preparedness training for individuals aged 15 – 25 with ASD focused on social, communication and job skill development.
Autism Advisory at Kerry’s Place
The Autism Advisory Committee and Durham Advisory Committees at Kerry’s Place have provided insight and feedback for various supports such as the Young Adults Project, EmploymentWorks, and an upcoming workshop for teenagers to understand their diagnosis of ASD. The committees have provided ideas over the past year that have led to various new support offerings for adults such as Dungeons and Dragons and Online Chill: An Adult Social Group. Together, the committees celebrated and promoted World Autism Awareness Day in April 2021.
As a result of the pandemic, a new workplace inclusion project was created and delivered by Inclusion Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) in collaboration with Ready, Willing & Able (RWA). The Employment Recovery Project is aimed at improving workplace inclusion for persons with an intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through addressing critical hiring and support needs that have emerged in response to COVID-19. Kerry’s Place has supported this initiative, and has participated in the following projects:
- Project Relay: Brings together service providers and employers to identify new and innovative approaches to support job seekers and employees with ASD or an intellectual disability in the context of COVID-19. Three interactive webinars were held for Community Partners supporting persons with employment, with up to 80 participants per webinar.
- Project Fast Track: A customized short-term training program that trains candidates with an intellectual disability or ASD for in-demand jobs, with specific training on new or expanded health and safety protocols related to COVID-19. Three partnerships were formed as a result of this initiative, with 32 participants engaged in paid training through employer partners.
- Community Project Funding: Through this stream, the Young Adults Project was expanded into Waterloo, Wellington, and Dufferin areas, as well as rural areas in Simcoe and Durham.
Job Seekers Spotlight: Meet David
In the Winter of 2020, David participated in the EmploymentWorks program at Kerry’s Place which offers training for adults with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities who are interested in developing the essential skills necessary to obtain and maintain employment. In spring of 2021, David signed up for Project Fast Track to continue to build key skills and facilitate a connection with local businesses.
David participated and attended the paid employment training at Novellus Graphics Resource in Scarborough and upon completion of the training, David was provided with an offer of employment. His first day at Novellus was April 26. David and his supervisor both report that he has been doing well at his new job.
When I first went to Kerry’s Place, I didn’t have much experience or felt prepared for working. I was encouraged by my mom and that gave me the push I needed. I see myself as a shy person and sometimes struggle to take the first step, but knowing Project Fast Track was being offered through Kerry’s Place made me feel comfortable enough to begin. Through Project Fast Track, I was able research partnerships I thought would be a good fit, and developed skills employers would be looking for.
What I learned is that employers look for is effort, and that’s what I put in, and how I got hired at Novellus! I am so grateful, more so than I can put into words, to Kerry’s Place, my parents and everyone who supported me along this journey. –David Petti, Bindery Associate, Novellus Graphics Resources
We really enjoyed partnering with Project Fast Track. It was a great experience for us to get to know and train all the participants. Our employees were very involved in the training process which helped boost the overall workplace. We are so happy that we were able to continue working with David and feel that we’ve found a great and qualified employee. –Danielle Hill, Production Manager, Novellus Graphics Resources
Adult Services and Supports:
There was a profound impact on the ability for Kerry’s Place to provide in-person supports for adults in our community based programs. However, as the province began to gradually lift public health measures, direct support staff were able to provide one to one support to approximately 20 individuals through outdoor activities such as going for a walk in their community or to a local park. Although brief, these visits provided a much needed highlight for individuals and their families and caregivers. Virtual supports were also offered, with 205 adults participating in virtual respite and skills based activities.