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ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin
July 16, 2013



From the Editor:

Hello Readers-


It is with regret that I acknowledge the resignation of our former Associate Editor, Andrew Nelson. Thank you, Andrew, for all of your work launching the eBulletin.


On a brighter note, I also welcome members of the AGI Young Leaders Division  - Dani Bowman, Chloe Rothschild, Jeremy Sicile-Kira and Campbell Teague - to the editorial team.  They helped develop our issue theme of poverty as it relates to un-/under-employment for those with ASD, and in identifying contributors. In particular, I want to recognize Chloe as our new Editor in Training. Thank you also goes to Campbell for participating in the eBulletin production.


There are four feature articles, a commentary and our usual News Notes section for your review. First, our own Campbell Teague offers his reflection on the poor rates of employment for those with autism. This is followed by three contributions that address ways in which subsequent poverty can be alleviated, including improved opportunities for employment. Dena Gassner, independent consultant, provides tips for successfully applying for Social Security benefits. Chip Kenney and Abby Cooper from TACE Southeast discuss the importance of and strategies to incorporate asset building into the job development process. Finally, Michael John Carley of ASTEP outlines changes occurring in large companies that are advancing employment opportunities for those on the spectrum. These are rounded out by a commentary by Sherry Moyer, Director of The University of Toledo Center for Excellence in Autism.


We hope you find the content informative and useful.


Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW

Managing Editor

Autism and Employment:

A Reflection on

the Poor Statistics

Campbell Teague


In the past twenty years a lot of research has been done concerning autism. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD are children that were born during this time frame. Now, they are becoming young adults seeking employment and joining an unknown number of other adults with ASD facing several (often overlooked and insufficiently understood) difficulties entering the work force or maintaining employment. For example, the now recognized (and well researched) sensory and socially related issues generally have yet to be well known or accommodated in work settings. Meanwhile, nobody really knows how many people with autism are in the work force, what the true unemployment rate is, and the specific challenges causing the high rates of underemployment or unemployment.

To read the full article including Campbell's reflections, click here

The Hidden Curriculum of the Social Security Application

Dena Gassner, LMSW


Social Security income can be used to help alleviate difficult financial circumstances and foster independence for an individual with a disability. This is because programs through the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer financial and medical resources (and, subsequently, access to work supports) for those who qualify. While not all who are disabled qualify for SSA programs - which require documentation of an inability or excessive limitation to one's capacity to work due to disability - use of SSA programs can make a difference for many who otherwise would face poverty. Unfortunately, many individuals and their family members are unaware of the programs or face fear, shame, or embarrassment at being "in need." Moreover, the application process is long and can be mentally and emotionally taxing; requiring one to step away from an emphasis on strengths and skills in order to focus on deficits and incapacity. However, I know first-hand of how the programs can be life changing.


To read Dena's tips for successfully completing the application process, click here

Introducing Financial Stability into Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Abby Cooper and Chip Kenney


It is clear that employment alone is not enough to address issues of poverty that often accompany disability. It is necessary to understand the impact of poverty in addition to the impact of disability and help people create a vision of the financial futures they want.  In addition to facilitating employment outcomes, vocational rehabilitation and other employment services should help ensure that the people served have the opportunity to secure their financial futures by integrating asset development and financial stability strategies into the service delivery system.


A Harris Poll in 2010 found that 58% of persons with disabilities are either living paycheck to paycheck or going into debt compared to 34% without disabilities. Moreover, data from rehabilitation agencies from 2011 shows the national mean hourly wage at closure[i] was $11.31 an hour for individuals who work 35 hours or more. This means individuals are rehabilitated at less than 200 percent of poverty level. Unfortunately, most Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs), in particular as well as others working to support job development for those with disabilities are untrained in promoting asset building and true economic independence.


Incorporating asset development into the vocational rehabilitation process will assist individuals with disabilities in achieving economic self-sufficiency or being on a pathway to financial stability.

To read the full article and learn about existing asset building strategies, click here.

[i] Closure refers to the process of closing a vocational rehabilitation (VR) case following what is deemed to be a period of successful employment.

Trends to Follow in

Large Companies:

On the (Slow) Road to

Greater Autism Spectrum Hiring and Retention

Michael John Carley, Executive Director, ASTEP


Whether an individual on the autism spectrum leaves home partially or fully and whether at age 18, 21 or 50, the emotional changes are beyond the comprehension of most. The cognitive challenges of navigating how the world operates, acquiring independent living skills and managing new relationships - both romantic and professional - all can come overwhelming into play. Unlike housing or dating, employment is the key arena, as it so affects our status in the other areas of transitioning.


Historically, people with autism were promoted as capable workers through messages of social good and/or civic responsibility, with less of an emphasis on the economic and business advantages of employing this population. Nowadays, we know that the low hiring rates of spectrum individuals by large companies were not because of prejudice or even disinterest; corporations simply lacked the confidence that if they hired these workers, the relationship would work and that those individuals would keep their jobs. Messy breakups are greatly feared in the business world, as they can cost a lot both fiscally and by reputation with their consumer base.


Luckily, there are more effective approaches underway today that are making corporate culture itself a collaborator seeking to adapt. The new approaches usually revolve around three key components: incentives, outreach and training.

To read the full article, click here.
**** COMMENTARY **** 

Some Thoughts on Poverty, Systems and How the Choices We Make Can Change Outcomes for Adults With ASD

Sherry Moyer, MSW, LSW


By trade, I am a social worker and as a member of that profession, I proudly serve, advocate, research and shape policy to benefit populations that for one reason or another lack resources to be successful as others define it. To do this, social workers often fight the popular belief that an individual always and completely is responsible for one's own circumstances and could improve them if he/she just tried hard enough. As the Director of an autism program at a public university in a region with 15 - 20% poverty, I can tell you that I have never-ever met a person that knew the way out of poverty and chose not to take it. In the name of full disclosure, poverty also is a very personal concern of mine because I am the mother of a 24-year-old with ASD who will someday need to navigate life without me.


It seems to me that as a group, we could make the case that poverty is a natural extension of systems that limit choices for people that don't "sit down and blend in."

To read the rest of Sherry's commentary, click here
**** NEWS NOTES ****
Long Day's Journey Into Financial Light: Part I, Public Funding Sources


This article is the first in a two part series written by Peter Emch, father to an adult with autism and president of the Emch Foundation that supports autism research and services. Each addresses planning financial futures for adults with autism. Part I discusses public funding options available through both federal and state sources, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Public Housing Assistance, Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Access to such funds is based on eligibility determined through on an application process. This article discusses what each of these resources is, as well as how and where to apply for them. The article is available at

Long Day's Journey Into Financial Light: Part II, Private Financial Resources


This is the second article in a two part series written by Peter Emch (see the above News Note regarding Part I). This article continues to discuss various information and programs related to planning financial futures for individuals with autism. Part II defines and explains aspects such as private health insurance, earned income, family resources and "special needs trusts." This article also explains how they are related and useful for individuals with autism. In particular, detail is offered about the difference between a first versus third party SNT and a pooled versus private SNT. To read this article, go to

TEAM-Employment Act of 2013

Currently, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is 90%; notably higher than that of their nondisabled peers. Systems designed to help with transition to adulthood often fail individuals with significant disabilities. The TEAM Employment Act of 2013 is designed to bridge the gaps to integrated jobs, earning minimum wage or higher, for youth with significant disabilities. The TEAM legislation has three separate parts, each with the final end goal of helping youth with significant disabilities have everything they need to be employed in an integrated setting, participate in postsecondary employment, and be a part of their community. To read more about the TEAM Act, go to 

ABLE Act Reintroduced in New Congress

This article by Autism Speaks discusses the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act being reintroduced in congress. The ABLE Act, if passed, would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service code to allow tax-free savings accounts for persons with disabilities. To read this press release, go to

ABLE Act Q & A


The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act is federal legislation that was introduced by Congressman Crenshaw and Senator Bob Casey on February 13th, 2013. Individuals with disabilities face many struggles and do not have the same financial planning tools as other citizens without disabilities. The ABLE Act is designed to help ease the financial strain on individuals with disabilities by making tax deferred savings accounts available to cover needs such as health care, insurance payments and transportation costs. Comparable to tax-free savings allowances for college, savings under the ABLE Act are intended to help individuals save money for the future. To find out more about this bill or to download a document listing frequently asked questions, go to


The entire Bill text is available at:

Congress Reinstates WIPA and PABSS

The House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution reinstating funding for the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program. The programs are expected to resume August 1 and September 1, respectively. Both programs are designed to help Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries attain self-sufficiency through work. Specifically, the programs provide access to trained individuals who can offer assistance in understanding and tracking available Social Security work incentives that maximize one's earnings from work. For more information about WIPA or PABSS, contact your local Social Security Administration office and ask for the contact information for the providers of these services. You also can contact the National Association of Benefits and Work Incentives Specialists (NABWIS) at for assistance or more information.

AGI In-Home Support Course (Online) - Begins August 12


AGI, in association with a team of 15 curriculum experts across the United States, has developed the AGI Residentail/Daily Living Support Course. The 12-module/12-week online course now is available for parents, siblings, other family members, in-home support workers, agency support providers, and volunteers to gain knowledge to support a broad array of aspects of daily living. Knowledge gained is relevant for those working with and for adults of any age as well as youth/young adults in post-secondary transition. Specific competencies address sensory, social, cognitive, communication and organizational differences common among those on the spectrum and reflect evidence-based practices. Tools and strategies learned can be used in a range of residences including private homes, group homes, and other agency settings. The course is a partnership between the Autistic Global Initiative (AGI), the Autism Research Institute (ARI) and Autism Speaks. For more information or to register, go to and view information via "the course and curriculum" link.

estate planning
National Housing and Residential Supports S
urvey Online Now
New survey by Autism Speaks focuses on housing needs

Within the next decade, more than 500,000 individuals with autism will enter adulthood. Finding and securing housing and residential supports for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can be extremely challenging for individuals and their families.  


Autism Speaks seeks to quantify and characterize the housing needs of individuals, adolescents and adults with autism in the United States through the National Housing and Residential Supports Survey. View the survey


The goal is to increase the support of both the public and private sectors to expand housing and residential supports opportunities for individuals with autism. They have set a goal to receive 10,000 responses by Friday, August 9. Autism Speaks has announced that the results from this survey will be used to support recommendations on a national strategic plan for housing policy and development.   

The survey is designed for individuals with autism ages 14 and older and their caregivers. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. Learn More 



 *Note: All who complete the full survey will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad

Volume 11    


"Reaching out, 

teaching from life experience."
In This Issue
Autism and Employment: A Reflection on the Poor Statistics
The Hidden Curriculum of The Social Security Application
Introducing Financial Stability into Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Trends to Follow in Large Companies: On the (Slow) Road to Greater Autism Spectrum Hiring and Retention
Some Thoughts on Poverty, Systems and How the Choices We Make Can Change Outcomes for Adults With ASD
Long Day's Journey into Financial Light: Part I, Public Funding Sources
Long Day's Journey into Financial Light: Part II, Private Financial Resources
TEAM-Employment Act of 2013
ABLE Act Reintroduced in New Congress
ABLE Act Q & A
Congress Reinstates WIPA and PABSS
AGI In-Home Support Course (Online) - Begins August 12
New Survey Focuses on Housing and Residential Supports


The ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin

Editorial Staff


Val profile


Valerie Paradiz, PhD


ARI Director of Special Projects

Director of the Autistic Global Initiative




 Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW

Managing Editor

Participant in the

Autistic Global Initiative 





Chloe Rothschild  

Editor in Training 





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If you would like to submit an article or a letter to the editor to be considered for publication in the ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin, please email us for submission guidelines at 


Your feedback and ideas mean a lot to us, as we endeavor to provide you with a balanced resource on the latest events, news and research that concerns adults on the autism spectrum and those who support them.




 Autistic Global Initiative



To foster the development of adults on the autism spectrum and those who work with and for them.




We balance the work of reaching out for our own needs with the work of educating others, thereby expanding awareness about adult concerns. This work builds bridges among service providers, families and individuals within the autism community. We embrace the diverse perspectives of one another, while incorporating participation across varied modes of expression. In this way, the Autistic Global Initiative serves as a model of the inclusion for which we advocate. 


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This eBulletin at times will contain commentary from contributor(s) on a topic related to the featured subject of a given issue. ARI, nor AGI as one of its programs, necessarily agrees with or endorses the specific opinion(s) expressed. Commentary is included with the intent of supporting informed choice and decision-making. 

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