Houston employability center helps students with autism and similar special needs find career path

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HOUSTON- Social Motion Skills is a local non-profit in their tenth year of working to empower those with autism and similar special needs. For many, that means finding a career path where they can thrive.

Recently, Social Motion received a grant from the M. D. Anderson Foundation and were able to open the Transition and Employability Center.

“It's important to me because I really want to get a better idea of what job is out there for me and what skills it takes to get to it," explained TEC student, Brian Denney.

An assessment taken over several weeks will help point students towards a career path where they can succeed.

“For us to be able to place young adults with autism and similar disabilities in jobs that really hone in on their skills and their interests was a first priority to us. So to have this hands-on assessment center, that is kind of step one of that process," explained Wendy Dawson, Executive Director of Social Motion Skills.

Students work to complete tasks they would see on the job within a certain amount of time.

“At the end of the assessment we actually are able to provide data, so that is very valuable for the parents and also the educator because its no longer guesswork or an opinion," explained Dawson.

Caro Blackburn, another TEC student, is on her way to finding the right fit.

“Anything that involves data, sorting and cooking also involves all of that as well-- that is something that I know I’m good at," said Blackburn.

"It's so exciting to see them have fun when they come through this lab because they are feeling successful at what they can do," said Dawson.

The idea is pointing them towards the next step and these students are eager to become great employees.

"I’m a fast learner, so you teach me something to do and I will get the hang of it right away," said Blackburn.

“I really want a job that I would actually be happy to go back to work. I want to find a purpose," explained Denney.

The assessment system has been used in other areas across the country, however, this is the first assessment center of its kind in the Houston area. It is designed for students thirteen-years-old and up.

You can head to the Social Motion Skills website to learn more about the program.

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