On-the-Job Training for Students with Special Needs
Steve Adubato goes on-location to The North Ward Center for the “Autism: A Different Way of Thinking” forum to speak with Cornelia Gilpin, Nurse Manager at Overlook Medical Center, Atlantic Health System, about the Project SEARCH program and how it provides on-the-job training for students with special needs, including autism.
"Welcome to an ongoing series that we're doing called Autism: A Different Way of Thinking. We are honored and pleased to be joined by Cornelia Gilpin, who is a nurse manager at Overlook Medical Center. That's part of the Atlantic Health System. Good to see you. Good to be here. Thank you for having me. Let me fully disclose out of the box that Atlantic is one of our very generous underwriters of public broadcasting, particularly to our production company. Let me ask you. This series on autism, we keep saying "a different way of thinking." How do you think about it and deal with it every day? So I think this... the program that we have at Overlook Medical Center, working with Project SEARCH, provides the... Go back. Project SEARCH. Let's clarify that. What is that? So Project SEARCH is an organization that's actually national. They're in 48 states, in seven countries, and what they do is facilitate a transition for students who are... almost done high school, or between 18 to 21, who have disabilities, and house them to develop job skills so that they can transition to the work environment and the workforce. Break down some of those job skills for us, if you could. Certainly. So some of the things that they can learn depending on the student, and it really is customized and tailored to the student, are repeatable tasks. So say for example, we have... the variety of programs that we have the students work with are in human resources, and... you know, so they can be responsible for filing clerical work, environmental services where they work with our staff to collect garbage, dispose of waste, we have them working in our library, in our environmental services department within... they've also worked in our foundation. So let me stop you right there. The folks you're talking about could do a lot? Mm hmm. A lot? Yes. To what degree is there a misconception, misperception... Mm hmm. ...of people with autism? Now you're talking about in terms of what they're capable of, on the part of many? Mm hmm. And I think this is where I am so pleased about the program that Project SEARCH is, and when it was developed, and what it's all about. Because there is a lot of misinformation about the capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Such as? So it's like, you know, what can they do? How do I interact with them? You know, what if they are not able to speak? Or what can they really do? And so I think it's not even so much intentional, but more of a lack of knowledge. They don't really know..."