August 1, 2022

Speed coaching event, UCLA PEERS for Careers program
Speed coaching event, UCLA PEERS for Careers program
There will be an estimated 700,000 autistic adults aging into adulthood over the next 10 years. Yet, a staggering 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. The UCLA PEERS® for Careers program was developed to address the challenges faced by autistic young adults in their transition from college to career and to create a scalable solution to employment barriers faced by autistic individuals to serve as a model of higher education training for colleges across the country.
With funding from Autism Speaks, the research team at the UCLA Tarjan Center UCEDD, led by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, is currently examining the effectiveness of 20-week employment-related social skills intervention. The PEERS® for Careers program uses evidence-based teaching methods for autistic individuals to promote skills ranging from interviewing to workplace socializing. This research study is concluding its work with the fourth and final cohort of participants. Across the entire study to date, 107 autistic young adults have enrolled, with more than 60% of those who have completed the 20-week program reporting being engaged in employment-related experiences immediately following the course, and an even greater number employed during the follow-up period.
Nick, a participant of the program, was not only able to go on his first ever job interview, but also secured his first internship at Shemesh Farms, a local farm social enterprise and small business, where he co-authored and collaborated on the publication of their first cookbook, among other roles. Nick shares, “With the skills I’ve learned and the help from my career coach I have had two job interviews. In the first job interview I was nervousbut I did the job interview and I was very proud of myself. In the second job interview I got my first internship. There I’ve learned so much about how a small business grows. I’m more excited about this internship and getting a job in the future.”
This innovative program includes career coaching from graduate and undergraduate students with support from a team of psychologists with expertise in employment-related social skills and has been made possible by the support of generous donors, including Northwestern Mutual, Autism Speaks, and the Max Factor Family Foundation. However, through ongoing philanthropic efforts, the UCLA PEERS® for Careers program is excited to expand by not only providing direct engagement with autistic individuals, but also with employers and professional networks. By partnering with numerous employers, the program hopes to increase employer awareness of autistic individuals’ strengths in the workplace and employer knowledge on how to maximize this amazing talent pool. At present, the PEERS® for Careers employment team has already partnered with nearly 200 community organizations and professionals to create a directory of internship, employment, and informational interview opportunities–a feat that has already provided countless networking and employment options for participants.
To learn more about this program or how to support these efforts please contact the UCLA Tarjan Center at (310) 26-PEERS or [email protected].