Better career prospects for people with ASD

Friday 11 December 2015

Photo of Indiverso ProjectThe Cedar Foundation is delighted to be part of a European partnership focussed on ensuring better career prospects for people with ASD. The partnership consists of eleven organisations from seven countries. 

 

There are many barriers to education, training and employment for people with ASD meaning the risk of exclusion is high.  Martin Künemund, project leader at Josefsheim Bigge highlights that, “Despite having a high level of expertise, people with ASD often lack social skills and the necessary framework in which to interact. As such, they are often denied the opportunity to get on the first step of the career ladder, or they are overwhelmed. The support on offer by teachers, trainers and employers need to be improved to help ensure successful outcomes.”

 

The project, titled ‘INDIVERSO’ (short for: Inclusive diverse solutions for VET) is financially supported by the European Commission as part of its Erasmus+ programme. The project’s name refers to its conceptual orientation: developing solutions for inclusive vocational training as well as a basic understanding of how to approach the various impairments and disabilities.

 

The project is being coordinated by Josefsheim Bigge, a provider of services to around 850 people with disabilities in Olsberg, Germany.  They identified an emerging need within their own services with the growing number of people with ASD requiring personalised support to gain and sustain their involvement in education, training and employment. Their experience demonstrates that the training and support frameworks are frequently insufficient for this target group due to their generalised approach based on far-reaching disability categories and assumed typical deficits.

 

“The differences exhibited by these people can also be strengths and be very beneficial for various professions. A key objective is developing the personality and abilities of every person and enabling them to participate”, explains Prof. Dr Gudrun Wansing from Kassel University, who has assumed responsibility for scientific supervision. Up to now, aspects of inclusion are discussed and tested most intensively in school education, while participation in vocational training and the workplace is rarely focussed upon despite the UN Disability Rights Convention calling for such an ongoing approach. “The basis of this concept is a dynamic and interactive model which understands disability as a result of a negative interaction of environmental and personal factors”, explains Wansing with a reference to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), a classification of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Every person has to deal with various challenges throughout their life which relate to their attributes, environmental/living conditions and impairments. This is why they also need individual support.”

 

In the first stage of the project, experts and people with ASD were surveyed. The results from the surveys will be used to form the basis of the content of the training concept. Being considered are proposals for students, training courses, supervision and collegial advice for teachers and specialist staff; coach training for the individual supervision of young people with impairments, as well as offers of information and training for companies. Teachers and specialist staff should be made more aware of individual approaches to the needs of specific trainees and professional skills and abilities should be imparted. In addition, the project partners wish to establish or expand the support network structures in their regions. For this purpose, a forum is planned for all stakeholders relevant to the target group in which information and experiences can be regularly exchanged thereby facilitating efficient collaboration.

 

The INDIVERSO project actively encourages user participation and engagement.  People with ASD will inform the development of the training and supports concept through on-going consultation.

 

‘INDIVERSO’ ends in summer 2017 with an international symposium hosted by Josefsheim Bigge. More information is available online at: www.indiverso-erasmus.de.

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