Quality Improvement for the Autism2Work Initiative at Computer Aid, Inc.
This capstone project explores the goals and practices of CAI’s job readiness training (JRT) function within their Austims2Work (A2W) initiative. The primary purpose of this capstone project is to examine the goals of the JRT, with the secondary goal of investigating the affordances within the JRT portion of the A2W program. CAI places ASN employees with a neurotypical team lead who holds an Autism Certification from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES, 2021). The term neurodivergent focuses on the idea that some brains function differently from what is considered neurotypical or the normed function of the human brain. Within these societal expectations, a neurodivergent person may behave in ways deemed out of the norm due to the different ways they process and respond to information and external stimuli (Uljarevic and Hamilton, 2013). This project focuses solely on the JRT portion of the various ongoing supports Computer Aid, Inc. (CAI) offers its employees. The JRT is one of several affordances granted to autism spectrum neurodivergent (ASN) trainees and employees at CAI and occurs within the first half of a potential employee's interactions with CAI staff. CAI defines the JRT as a weeklong (eight-day) interview event containing meet and greets, onboarding, and various training activities. This training occurs after recruitment, application, and admission but before decisions about retention and placement. Based on my observations of the eight-day JRT, the primary goal of the training is to assess potential employees for job readiness through a series of tasks and interactions. The secondary goal of the training is to modify behaviors toward working within a professional, agile team-based system using the scrum framework and agile approach for information technology teams. Over eight days, the participants engaged in a variety of activities to assess their job readiness and modify behaviors toward a professional, team-based setting using the agile approach and scrum framework for information technology teams. Such participation requires trainees to show up each day at the specified time, interact in a professional setting and manner, and engage with potential coworkers in an agile team-based system using the scrum framework. The facilitators assessed participants throughout the eight-day training period for their professional skills and level of preparedness for the job. The trainer and staff used a series of measurably proficient pedagogical practices to engage the trainees in activities focused on development outcomes using a variety of affordances, such as video-based training modules, peer modeling, group interactions, share out sessions, and cascading affordance building where necessary.