Des Moines, IA, April 3, 2023: Midwest Autism & Therapy Centers, a local early-intervention therapy provider, has just launched a new partnership with Easter Seals designed to help create employment opportunities for adults on the Autism Spectrum. The collaboration comes just in time to kick off Autism Awareness Month and aims to help provide job experience and career development opportunities to members of the Autism community in Des Moines.
The idea for the partnership was originally sparked by staff members at Midwest centers in Altoona and West Des Moines. Briana Gillette, Program Administrator at the WDM campus cited a need for additional help with administrative and custodial tasks as the main driver for the program. “We were looking for part-time help and just thought ‘why shouldn’t we create job opportunities for a group we’re already so dedicated to supporting?’ Especially since our therapy programs focus on services for younger children, this gives us a chance to help Autistic adults in our community as well.”
Laura Anderson, a Manager in Altoona states “Our team saw this as an incredible opportunity to live our mission and our values. We always say we are here to support the community, and here was such a clear way to put those words into action.”
Nationally, between 50-75% of adults with Autism are either unemployed or underemployed (Palumbo, 2021). By working with Easter Seals to find the right individuals to fill existing roles, Midwest hopes to help bring additional jobs to the community and combat the kinds of employment discrimination that many individuals with Autism face.
“Because we work daily with kids on the Spectrum, we’re very comfortable hiring individuals with varying levels of independence,” says Brian Steinberg, Vice President of Operations at Midwest. “Our primary goal is to find the right culture fit for our organization and provide a supportive working environment for these individuals.” Since the program launched in late March, Easter Seals has been able to help Midwest fill three roles and create tailored work plans for each new hire. Family members are also an active part of the process often stopping in to provide support and input on the work plans.
As Midwest continues to expand their footprint in Iowa and Minnesota, they intend to broaden the scope of their collaboration with Easter Seals and create more job opportunities. “We envision this program extending to all of our offices, not just those in Polk County,” says Judy Seals, Director of Operations. “So far, this has been a fantastic experience for everyone involved, we’re really looking forward to growing our connection to Easter Seals and our local Autism communities.”
For more information regarding Midwest, our mission, or community partnerships please contact our Altoona, IA campus at (515) 446-2075, or visit midwestautismservices.com.