During the panel discussion I had two major thoughts in my brain. The first was that I’m really happy that I decided to come to this conference because this is very interesting. The second thought was damn I sure am hungry! That is why I was happy it was lunch time when the panel was finished with and it was time for lunch.
I headed over to the catered lunch at the conference, grabbed some food, and looked for a place to sit. I kept looking and looking, it didn’t seem like there was a table that was empty. It seemed like I was looking for an hour for a seat, but in reality it was probably 5 minutes. At that time a group of people at a table invited me to sit down. We started talking and I quickly found out they worked for one of the state support teams in Ohio. State Support Teams are Ohio’s state support system who use a connected set of tools to improve instructional practice and student performance on a continuing basis. Many times the State Support Team is involved in the IEP process.
I asked several questions about what they do and they mentioned that they go into public schools and are involved in transition planning. I then discussed problems with transition planning and it sure seemed that they didn’t like this line of thought! Oh well, the truth is the truth. I quickly finished my lunch, escaped this uncomfortable situation and headed over to the afternoon session.
The first breakout session that I decided to attended was about “Building Natural Supports in the Workplace.” The presenter was Dale DiLeo, the man who gave the morning keynote. Thought this was a very good session to attend for two reasons. The first was that it showed me that Autism Personal Coach is doing many things correct in terms of helping individuals with disabilities obtain employment. The second thing this session showed me was how we can improve.
Dale talked a lot about the importance of talent matching when you act as a job coach. That is something that is first thing we think about we helping an individual maintain a job. It is so crucial to use our clients interests and skills as much as possible in the process of gaining employment. The other thing that was talked in great length was once an individual gets a job, how to correctly prompt them at their place of employment. This was very exciting to hear because Dale was talking about using ABA to do this without ever using the words ABA. It was great to hear this because we use the principles of ABA to reduce the amount of support they need.
Next, Dale talked about job development, something that is essential to a job coach. Job development is the process of a job coach connecting businesses and their clients. He talked about how job coaches don’t focus nearly enough on job development. A job coach can’t connect businesses to their clients if he/she doesn’t have relationships with businesses. This isn’t something I didn’t know already. However, it just emphasized to me that I need to get my butt out there and connect with many more businesses. I’m happy to report that since this session I have done exactly that.
When this session ended I headed over to the breakout on “How to Engage Employers in Hiring Individuals with Disabilities”. This was a panel discussion from employers of JC Penneys, Cardinal Health, and Manpower. They talked about educating employers on what you do, why you are a good contact, and explain to them how you could help with training of your client at a job site. Another focus of the presentation was to look at federal contractors. This is because the Department of Labor proposed a new rule to strengthen requirements established in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act that would require federal contractors to set a hiring goal of having 7 percent of their workforces be people with disabilities. I thought this was great information because I was unaware of this and gave me another avenue for Autism Personal Coach to pursue employment for our clients.
Thoughts on Day 2 of the Employment First Conference will be in the next blog post. If you like this blog spread the word for others that you may think may like it as well. As always send any questions or comments to us at email@example.com