PRS Employment Services are available to clients who are ready to seek paid employment in the community. Services include career counseling, on and off the job assessments, work adjustment training classes, job search support groups, and specialized services for individuals with professional and technical skills.
PRS Employment Specialists are trained in the “Choose-Get-Keep” model of supported employment, ensuring that each client receives services tailored to his/her particular needs, abilities, and career goals. They teach clients about job expectations, how to interview for a position, and how to cope with symptoms on the job. They are also available to ensure that the client’s transition to work runs smoothly, and to provide support to each client once employed.
Employment Services for Persons with Asperger’s Disorder
PRS currently provides Employment Services to persons with Asperger’s Disorder across Northern Virginia. Services provided include community-based work adjustment training, job development and on-the-job coaching. These individuals also may receive skills training around basic independent living skills, managing a budget and organizational skills for housing stability, all of which are essential to employment.
Role of the Employment Specialist
After completing an intake, clients are assigned to work collaboratively with an Employment Specialist. The Employment Specialist focuses on helping clients get oriented with the program, assisting in working toward vocational goals, and developing new goals as needed.
Each Employment Specialist works as a member of the recovery team and may request consent to communicate with mental health providers and natural supports. The role of the Employment Specialist varies based on the type of service each client is receiving.
Disability Disclosure Decision
Each client has the option of whether or not to disclose to the employer that he/she has a disability. This is an individual choice, and PRS Employment Specialists can assist clients in making an educated decision regarding disclosure.
One aspect of making an educated decision is being familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employment Specialists at PRS are knowledgeable about this legislation and can help clients and employers understand it as well, to assist in employment success.
For clients who may be unclear about the type of employment for which they would be most suited, the Employment Specialist helps clarify work skills, aptitudes, values, and desires. A range of the following tools may be used to assist in this process:
- Interest inventories
- Situational assessments
- Work adjustment training
- Informational interviews
The purpose of these services is to assist the individual in developing an appropriate employment goal.
Job Getting / Job Development
Once an employment goal is established, the Employment Specialist can provide training and assistance on topics such as:
- Job-seeking strategies and finding job leads
- Organizing job-seeking activities
- Preparing resumes and cover letters
- Completing job applications
- Building interview skills
- Negotiating a salary
- Utilizing job placement support
Clients also have the option of having the Employment Specialist contact employers on their behalf, accompany them to interviews, and describe the PRS Employment Program (and the client support it provides) to employers.
Job development is the process of actively looking for work. The Employment Specialist works with each client to teach him/her how to find a job as independently as possible. The goal of job development is to help individuals learn job-seeking skills, so they can use them now and in the future for career advancement.
Job Keeping / Job Coaching
Once a client obtains employment, Employment Specialists are available to provide “job coaching” services. Job coaching is support that can be provided on or off the job site, and may include support for the following:
- Completing new hire paperwork
- Accessing reasonable job accommodations
- Planning transportation
- Organizing and reinforcing job training
- Consulting with the employer
- Understanding Social Security benefits and work incentives
- Managing work-related stress and symptoms
- Identifying natural supports
- Developing positive co-worker/supervisor relationships
- Meeting employer productivity expectations
The frequency and length of job support visits is tailored to meet individual client needs and is based on consumer choice. The goal of Job Coaching is to assist the client in transitioning into a new position and in becoming stable on the job to ensure keeping the job.
Long-term Employment Support Services
Case management and on-going supportive services for the months following successful stabilization on the job are available to clients through either individual or group meetings. These supports are discussed on an individual basis with each client and his/her treatment team.
The goal of on-going support is to enable clients to keep their jobs long-term.
Referral Process and Contacts
Individuals can be referred to PRS in a variety of ways, including through the following referral sources:
- Mental health provider (i.e. therapist, case manager, psychiatrist, residential counselor, etc.)
- Rehabilitation Counselor from the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
- Family member or friend
Referrals should be directed to the Regional Director of Supported Employment at the geographically appropriate center. The contact name and number for each supervisor is listed below. Referrals from mental health providers or DARS Counselors should include a PRS written referral form and documentation of diagnosis and medications.
Senior Vice President/Clinical Director
1761 Old Meadow Road, Suite 100
McLean, VA 22102