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ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin

November 22, 2011 





From the Editor:

On behalf of the editorial staff, welcome to another edition of the ARI Adults with ASD e-Bulletin. In this issue, we focus on various aspects of integrated, community employment.


Our first article, by Scott Standifer of the University of Missouri, provides an overview of a successful venture by investment company TIAA-CREF. "Fruits of Employment" is a program designed to recruit, train and retain individuals with autism in competitive jobs in the agricultural industry. The program exists in two sites, and TIAA-CREF has plans to replicate the opportunity elsewhere.


Scott's feature is followed by an article from an Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) contributor, Paul Nussbaum. As he shares his experience with self-employment, Paul describes how he came to the decision of owning his own business. He also highlights the advantages that self-employment offers him, as well as the pros and cons of being a "one-man operation."


Finally, staff from KFI in Millinocket, Maine share their reflections on the organizational transition they went through, moving from a sheltered workshop to a supported employment agency. Their story includes a discussion of the questions and challenges that staff faced at the time, with insights into the learning process of an organization undergoing change.


We hope you find the information in these articles and the news notes helpful and that you enjoy reading the current issue as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. 


Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW

Managing Editor


Why Autism Employment Makes Business Sense

for Agriculture

By Scott Standifer




The next revolution in autism employment may come from an apple orchard run by a major investment company. Not surprisingly, the parent of a child with autism is at the center of it. TIAA-CREF is one of the largest financial services companies in the United States, with $470 billion in assets under its management and serves 3.7 million active and retired employees.


Today, Heather Davis is Senior Managing Director at TIAA-CREF and head of its Global Private Markets division. But in 2007, Davis was a portfolio manager and part of a team proposing the company diversify its investments by purchasing farms.


To read the complete article, click here.




Employment -

Having My Own Business

by Paul Nussbaum


I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome 14 years ago at age forty. Currently, at age 54, I run my own handyman business and do advocacy work for ASD-related issues, which I have been doing for the last twelve years. I arrived at the idea of developing and having my own business out of necessity, in order to make a living and to have the financial stability to participate in life.

To read the complete article, click here.

Achieving and Sustaining Conversion...

Supporting Changed Lives:

One Agency's Journey from

Sheltered to Integrated Employment

By Jim Meehan and Gail Fanjoy


Peter Drucker, an influential writer, management consultant, and self-described social ecologist, said, "The bottom line of the social sector organization is 'changed lives'." KFI, a non-profit organization founded in 1962, spent the first 20 plus years of its existence creating spaces and programs that served to congregate and segregate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from community involvement. Life, for most, remained unchanged and unfulfilling.


KFI began its movement away from sheltered employment in the mid 1980s by asking two fundamental questions.


To read the complete article, click here.


  * * * *    NEWS NOTES    * * * * 

Legislation to End Subminimum Wages Introduced to Congress


Legislation introduced at the start of October would put an end to subminimum wage certificates for employers. HR 3086 would phase out the use of certificates over three years (for private for-profit entities after 1 year, for public or governmental entities after 2 years and for non-profits after 3 years).


The bill is grounded in the principle of integrated, community employment and puts forth that, given the necessary supports and services, employees with disabilities can be as productive as those without disabilities. It acknowledges that the use of supported and customized employment practices have demonstrated even those considered to be the most severely impacted by disability can work in jobs earning minimum wage and higher. The bill also argues the claims by employers with wage certificates that they provide rehabilitation and preparation for competitive employment is, in practice, rationale for the existence of cheap labor. Few individuals make the transition from wage certificate work settings to competitive employment.


To learn more about the use of subminimum wage certificates or the proposed legislation, visit the following links.



Autism Works National Conference March 2012


Autism Works will be holding its national conference March 6 -7, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. Autism Works is a non-profit organization committed to building better careers for adults with autism. A variety of speakers will be present, with keynote speeches from Dr. Stephen Shore and Deb Russell.  


The Influence of Families on the Employment Process


A new brief by the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI,) draws on information from a research study conducted in Massachusetts in which 16 people with intellectual disabilities and their families and employment staff were interviewed. The interviews focused on seeking to understand how these individuals make decisions about work and how their families impact those decisions.


The content gleaned from the interviews was used to assemble information about how families help individuals with intellectual disabilities make decisions throughout their lives along with tips to help families be more involved in supporting decision-making as it relates to employment. The brief is divided into four sections, each corresponding to a phase of development - phase 1: the early years, phase 2: planning for work, phase 3: the job search and phase 4: making the decision to accept a job.

To read the brief, go to


Self-Study in Employment Planning


Partners in Employment, from the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, is an online self-study course for people with developmental disabilities and their families. It is designed to help people find meaningful jobs and jumpstart their careers. It focuses on four critical outcomes: Independence, Productivity, Self-Determination, and Integration and Inclusion. To take the free course or just learn more about it, go to

SSA Youth Transition Demonstration Outcomes Report


The Mathematica Policy Research Center for Studying Disability Policy has released a brief that presents outcomes related to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Youth Transition Demonstration (YTD). The findings are drawn from a random sample of evaluations of the project, which is analyzing the impacts on helping youth with disabilities find jobs and reduce their dependency on federal disability benefits.

YTD projects around the country offer transition services that are intended to support planning for education and employment as an adult. The service components are based on Guideposts for Success, developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Y, 2005). The Guideposts reflect a compilation of documented best practices. YTD also includes SSA waivers of disability program rules that encourage youth to work by allowing them to retain more of their benefits as their earnings increase. The evaluation is tracking employment, earnings, and benefits, among other outcomes, to assess whether YTD helps youth find jobs and reduces their need for SSI and SSDI.


Preliminary (Phase 1) results suggest project sites that provided more emphasis on employment services including direct placement in paid summer jobs demonstrated a significant positive impact on employment. These results suggest that the SSA waivers for YTD may need to be combined with intense employment services in order to affect short-term employment outcomes. Phase 2 has incorporated an emphasis on job development and placement across sites and is expected to result in stronger outcomes than Phase 1.


To read more about the study and its preliminary outcomes, visit


Autism After 16


This new website, launched in September of this year, is devoted to topics relevant to adults with ASD and those in the process of post-secondary transition. Content areas include transition, post-secondary education, employment, finances, community and the arts and features topical articles on each subject. Accompanying articles written by individuals on the spectrum and family members as well as links to related news are also offered. Additionally, a section called "Life Skills" provides a variety of videos, each with step-by-step instructions on components of independent living. A recent on-line press release noted: the "goal of Autism After 16 is to help adults with autism and their families sort through, analyze, and synthesize the overwhelming-and often confusing-amount of information that exists in the area of adult services (PRWeb, November 4, 2011)." To visit the Autism After 16 site, go to


Book Announcement: Scholars with Autism Achieving Dreams


Auricle Books will be releasing a new book on January 2, 2012 called Scholars with Autism Achieving Dreams. Eight authors with autism have contributed to this anthology, providing their personal stories of academic, scholarly and personal success. The book is said to help families shatter negative myths or preconceived ideas about autism and features such prominent scholars as Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Dawn Prince, Ph.D., Liane Holliday, Willey, Ed.D., and Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D. 


To learn more about this upcoming work, please go to

The Sage Colleges Offer "Achieve Degree" for Autistic Students


The Sage Colleges in Albany, NY are breaking down barriers to higher education for students with autism. In January 2012 they will begin offering autistic students a chance to pursue Achieve Degree, a program specifically designed to meet the needs of students with autism. This bachelor's degree program will minimize social challenges by offering content entirely online. Students will also be able to customize their education experience by asking for specific delivery methods of course content (audio, video, text, etc.) and individualization will be emphasized. 


To learn more, click here.


Volume 5  

AGI small transparent logo


"Reaching out, 

teaching from life experience." 

In This Issue
Why Autism Employment Makes Business Sense for Agriculture
Employment - Having My Own Business
Achieving and Sustaining Conversion
Legislation to End Subminimum Wages
Autism Works National Conference
The Influence of Families on the Employment Process
Self-Study in Employment Planning
SSA Youth Transition Demonstration
Autism After 16
"Achieve Degree" for Autistic Students


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 




andrew headshot republican


Andrew Nelson, MEd

Associate Editor





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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 with autism spectrum condition sand those who

support them.



 Autistic Global Initiative



To be an agent for assumption-free inclusion of people with autism, providing advisory and consulting services to the Autism Research Institute and other organizations both nationally and globally.



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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