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Art By: George Ortiz

Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism Graduates

Posted on : 07/17/2014

Obtain Valuable Workplace Skills

It’s always an honor and a privilege to speak to young graduates on the verge of their new lives as adults, but nothing compares to the pride I felt addressing the Project SEARCH Collaborates for Autism (PSCA) graduation a few weeks ago. After a year of hard work at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division, six talented young men were able to flip their tassels and walk out of the room not only as graduates, but also as adults with valuable job skills. They all worked very hard for this honor. Throughout the school year, each student had the opportunity to work 600 hours in three different internships and complete an additional 300 hours of training in competitive, transferable and marketable job skills.

This is our second year as a program partner and it’s been such a wonderful experience. PSCA was created by New York Collaborates for Autism in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Arc of Westchester, Southern Westchester BOCES and ACCES-VR. Clinical support is provided by the NYP/Center for Autism and the Developing Brain.  PSCA is based on the national Project SEARCH program created at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The program allows young men and women with Autism Spectrum Disorder to gain confidence, become independent and learn valuable workplace skills during their last year of high school.

This year’s graduating class completed three internship rotations with New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division, working in areas including the pharmacy, laboratory services, information technology, facilities and food/nutrition. This year’s graduates are all remarkable. They are determined to succeed and have a fulfilling future. The ceremony concluded with each student delivering a brief presentation about what they’ve learned during their year. Their speeches were touching and memorable. The graduates spoke about learning self-advocacy and how to work independently, expressed desires for specific jobs – such as a bakery employee or office assistant, and shared their dreams.

As these young people enter the workforce, they transition into Arc of Westchester’s adult program, where they’ll receive assistance with job placements and ongoing career counseling. In fact, two of these graduates already have jobs – one at the Yonkers District Attorney’s office and the other at Dannon – a remarkable feat in this economy.

Congratulations Chesky, Drew, Geoffrey, Grant, John and Joseph! The skills you’ve learned throughout this past year will enable you to succeed in your new jobs and in life. I am proud of you and look forward to seeing what you will accomplish in your lives.

Photo by Eric Vitale

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