Bridging the Autism employment gap

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – In just a couple of months, high school students across the Tennessee Valley will receive their diplomas.

And the phones at Glenwood Autism & Behavioral Health Center will begin to ring.

The question is often the same – “My son or daughter is about to graduate from high school. What do I do now?”

David Lang is the director of Glenwood’s Journey Academy.

He says age 21 is typically the cutoff for high school enrollment. After that, it’s up to parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to figure out what’s next.

For young people with an interest in computers, the answer may be a computer certification program.

Glenwood has begun offering a course, taught in a sensory-friendly environment, that qualifies graduating students for a variety of jobs, including Tier 1 government jobs and more.

Tyler Smith is one of the first graduates of the program.

The 22-year-old says he’s always enjoyed working with computers, but the course did more than just teach him how to troubleshoot and maintain PC hardware.

“It’s helped me… just find my direction in life, since I’m getting to the age where I’m starting to need to build a foundation for myself,” Smith says.

That is the ultimate goal of the program.

In addition to the IT courses, Journey Academy offers a host of other job readiness resources.

There is also a free introductory Microsoft Office course offered at the Huntsville Madison County Public Library. That course is open at no charge to adults on the autism spectrum or those with other disabilities and their families.

Anyone looking for more information is welcome to call. Lang says they are always happy to connect people with the right outlet for help.

The office number to Glenwood’s Journey Academy is (256) 585-2986.