By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
President, bSci21Media, LLC
The ReachOut program, a recent initiative within CentralReach, is rapidly gaining attention in the autism and ABA communities, and for a good reason – they are a growing employment opportunity for adults on the autism spectrum. The program, envisioned by CEO Charlotte Fudge and managed by Senior Implementation Specialist Katy Han, started with the goal of hiring three adults in the implementation department. Today, the program employs four adults who perform data entry tasks for ABA billing and quality assurance tasks for CentralReach software.
Though Katy was admittedly nervous about the initial round of interviews with ReachOut applicants, she ended up hiring the first three people she interviewed. Data entry was selected as the primary job due to its repetitive nature. Furthermore, the many component skills involved in data entry allows Katy to assess applicants for other positions, such as performing user interface quality control for CentralReach software.
Armand Pena, a current ReachOut employee, said he enjoys working in the program because it allows him to pursue more challenging work than he has had in the past, working at a local movie theater. In his current work, he manages a variety of information related to diagnostic codes, payroll, and other employee information related to the billing clients they serve.
Armand found the program through his job coach, as part of a vocational rehabilitation program. He admitted that he was initially unsure as to whether he wanted to pursue the opportunity because of his busy schedule managing school and home responsibilities. However, he quickly came to enjoy being a part of CentralReach, due to the challenging work and the opportunity to work as part of a team.
ReachOut is not without its challenges, however. The open office environment of CentralReach, for example, can act as a distraction due to the stimulation inherent in a busy work environment. Additionally, extra attention is sometimes needed in the development of social skills for team interactions.
Nevertheless, given the quick successes of the program, both Katy and Armand would like to inspire others to start similar programs. Armand stressed that other companies should not overlook the disabled community and the talents that they bring to the table. He also recommended that others sign up for job training programs that help in resume building and interview skills.
Katy is also developing resources to help others establish similar programs and recommends to first contact your state’s vocational rehabilitation program. “Ultimately,” said Katy, “it’s about giving people a sense of purpose.”
Have you hired adults on the spectrum? Are you looking to hire? We look forward to hearing your stories in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org. bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiary services, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series. Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar. He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues. Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org