Recent Study Shows CIP Students with Autism and Learning Disabilities Beat the Odds

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Despite high unemployment and low college attendance, young adults overcome obstacles to experience success in college and the workplace.

CIP Graduate Kyle Palmer

Kyle Palmer works full time helping customers at Huck Finn's Warehouse in New York

"If I hadn't found a job, I would still be a lump on a couch at my parents house"

A new study spearheaded by CIP indicates their students experience significantly greater success with college and the workplace than the general population of young adults with autism and other learning differences.

Kyle Palmer is a CIP alumni who recently landed a full time job at Huck Finn’s, a large furniture store in New York state. His job involves helping customers make decisions about home furnishings based on their tastes and budgets. Kyle attended College Internship Program (CIP) and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He is among the minority of young adults on the autism spectrum who are employed full time.

”Although Kyle wanted us to know that he was challenged with Asperger's, he handled himself extremely well through the interview process,” commented Jeffrey Sperber, President of Huck Finn’s. “From day one, he was most anxious to learn the job and be a productive member of the team. Kyle is a very active participant in our weekly meetings with our entire sales team. We have no reason to doubt that he will have a bright future as an important part of the Huck Finn team,” Sperber continued.

A brand new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that 1 in 45 children are now diagnosed with autism. Many of these children are now transitioning to adulthood, and the employment rate for adults with autism currently hovers around 15%. According to a 2015 CIP survey, approximately 75% of CIP alumni are employed either full- or part-time, much higher than the national average. The survey indicates that 30% of students are employed full-time, while 67% are employed part-time.

Kyle, age 26, credits the skills he learned at CIP as a large part of the reason he was able to land a full-time job. CIP is a national postsecondary transition program that offers academic, employment, and independent living skills support for young adults with autism and other learning differences.

“If I hadn't found a job, I would still be a lump on a couch,” Kyle commented. “And I would still be living at my parents’ house and working at menial jobs.”

Corinne Martin worked as an academic advisor to Kyle while he attended CIP’s program in Lee, Massachusetts. “Kyle was provided with with the structure he needed to learn organizational skills and time management,” stated Martin. “He was supported in many ways, including tutoring, and strategies in independent living skills, as well as opportunities to hone his social skills to aid him in making friends and getting jobs,” she continued.

According to Kyle’s mother Kathy Palmer, “Kyle has blossomed in his ability to work in the retail field,” she commented. “Before attending CIP, Kyle would butt into conversations with totally inappropriate responses. His comments now are more related to the subject of the conversation and less inappropriate.”

Midhun Tripuraneni, age 21, is a current CIP student with learning differences who attends CIP’s program in Berkeley, California and attends Berkeley City College. He is finishing up his general education requirements and applying to a variety of four-year colleges and universities for Fall 2016. Midhun plans to major in computer science and work in technology. With only 40% of youth with autism and learning differences attending college, 87% of CIP students have attended college, considerably higher than the national average.

“The college tutoring and support I received was crucial to my success in college. I don’t know where I would be without Natalie, my advisor,” he stated.

“When I first started working with Midhun, there was no doubt that he was a great student, however, his lack of confidence and the "unknown" would interrupt his ability to stay on task,” commented Natalie Dean, Midhun’s advisor at CIP. “After much hard work, Midhun was able to reconstruct his thoughts into more positive ones and his confidence has sky rocketed. “

Midhun also has an internship at The San Francisco International Airport where he works as a customer service agent. “Midhun helps people find their way around the airport, and he’s very interested in his job,” commented Aaron Straus, Volunteer Coordinator at the airport.

Both Kyle and Midhun live in apartments with roommates. While only 17% of adults with autism live independently, 56% of CIP alumni live independently after graduating from the program.

Dan McManmon, President of CIP, believes the program changes the direction of students’ lives. “Our recent statistics show how well our students are performing when compared to national averages for this population,” he commented. “We are proud to support these young adults as they beat the odds and learn to utilize their unique abilities and value.”

CIP is a national postsecondary transition program for young adults with learning differences age 18-26. For more information, visit http://www.cipworldwide.org.

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Sarah Williams
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