Exploring Ways Neurodiverse Students Can Move From College to Work

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of neurological disorders. These neurological disorders include autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia and tics.

Chris Rogers and Nick Martin are two students who worked this past summer as interns at the City University of New York to develop a neurodiversity hub model. This proposed model is designed to help support young adult students with autism with improving employment outcomes.
Rogers and Martin traveled to every New York borough to interview university personnel, as well as employers to find out what they would expect to gain out of this Hub? Were any of the employers and universities willing to contribute to the hub? Would any of the employers be willing to provide training, job opportunities, and mentoring?
Both Rogers and Martin participated in for-credit internships. Rogers at the DXC Technologies in Melbourne, Australia, and Martin at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle. Rogers said that the overall purpose of this project was to provide students with autism support in all aspects of their college education. This included their physical and mental health, not just academics and career search. At Microsoft, Martin worked in the daily operations of a three-year-old program for employees with autism spectrum disorders, and with the company’s Autism at Work Summit in April. Working at Microsoft helped Martin to work on the employer end of the hiring equation to determine what policies and procedures were successful within a company.
Their internships were under the direction of Susanne Bruyere. She is the director of the ILR School’s K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability, where she is also professor of disability studies. “The focus of these internships is to assist students in learning directly from the companies about employment processes leading to successful programs for employees with autism,” Bruyère said.
The environments that these individuals can learn, work, and live need to be adjusted so that it can facilitate growth and development, not inhibit it as these disorders actually do. The purpose of the neurodiversity hub is to help create these environments so that these individuals can reach their full potential.
The goal of the neurodiversity hub is to…
  1. Support these types of individuals through specialized training programs, flexible study arrangements, and any assistive technologies that will be needed to help this untapped talent to shine through.
  2. Provide neurodivergent students access to internships and employment opportunities that they would not have access to through conventional means.
  3. Develop this untapped source of potential employees by improving their employability.

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