As The Diversity Movement enters its sixth semester partnering with the T-STEP program at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine, I can’t help but reflect on the value we’ve received from this program. We’ve been able to work with highly skilled interns who gain valuable work experience that can help them find meaningful employment. While that achievement isn’t all that unusual for internship programs, this one is different because participants, all of whom are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, are more likely to face higher rates of unemployment, and underemployment, throughout their careers, compared to people without disabilities.
T-STEP stands for the TEACCH School Transition to Employment and Postsecondary Education, and was developed to support the transition to employment and post-secondary education for 16- to 21-year-olds with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The acronym TEACCH within the name stands for teaching, expanding, appreciating, collaborating, cooperating, and being holistic – the core values of the program’s approach to autism treatment and support.
As a dedicated partner, The Diversity Movement takes on one or two interns from the T-STEP program each semester. Typically, our intern completes 10-15 hours of work for our team, and in return, we spend 15-30 minutes each week going over key workplace skills with our intern — skills such as time management, receiving corrective feedback, and asking for help. The internship has proved mutually beneficial every semester.