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Asif Is Eager to Go to Work: Tennessee

Tennessee Customized Employment Partnership

From Tennessee Customized Employment Partnership Infobrief, Volume 1, Issue 4, a publication of the University of Tennessee Center on Disability and Employment

Asif Idris is a 24- year-old male who graduated from Bearden High School with a special education diploma in the spring of 2002. After graduation from high school, Asif split his time between staying at home "watching TV, hanging out, and roaming around" (as described by his parents) and sitting in his father's office at a local college. Asif's parents were very uncertain of what next steps for Asif should be. His name was on the waiting list for services with Tennessee's Division of Mental Retardation Services. Although seemingly eligible, he was not receiving Social Security (SS) assistance (Asif's parents had not applied for SS assistance despite urging by his high school teacher).

Asif was referred for customized employment by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who participated in his transition planning. Asif had participated in limited school-based work experiences in high school, but he had no previous paid employment prior to his involvement with the Tennessee Customized Employment Partnership (TCEP) project. In early meetings with staff, Asif's interactions were limited. He did not usually express himself verbally or in writing; he did use a limited number of signs - sort of a mixture of American Sign Language and personal gestures.

He began participating in a self-determination workshop at the Knoxville Area Career Center in August, 2002. During the workshop series, Asif was relatively non-participatory. He required frequent breaks and walked around often. In addition to the workshops, staff spent time with Asif engaging him in decision-making activities and involving him in volunteer work activities. He volunteered occasionally shredding documents in the local workforce development office. He also spent several weeks assisting with the preparation and delivery of Mobile Meals to homebound elderly recipients. Over time, Asif became more interactive and expressive with staff. As part of a person-centered planning process, cleaning activities emerged as one of Asif's major interests. The TCEP staff began to engage in job development activities for Asif.

Staff also linked Asif with the East Tennessee Technology Access Center (ETTAC). Through ETTAC, Asif had the opportunity to engage in a variety of work-related tasks and explore assistive devices designed to assist him with communication. While at ETTAC, Asif demonstrated a thorough enjoyment of washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. Meanwhile, through the Career Center, customized employment staff became aware of a newly established position with Parkwest Hospital. A new part-time dishwasher position had been created to help existing staff keep pace with an increasing workload. Asif's Career Specialist coordinated with the hospital recruiter and scheduled an interview for Asif with the department manager.

The Career Specialist worked with the department manager to facilitate the interview with Asif. Though Asif was mostly quiet, when the manager asked if he would like to go to work, he both signed and verbalized yes. When the manager showed him where he would be working, Asif spotted a bucket of water and a sponge. He immediately picked up the sponge and began wiping down countertops, smiling all the while. The manager noted that Asif seemed to enjoy the work.

Asif began his employment as a temporary employee on May 6, 2003. He was hired into regular status two weeks later. He works Monday - Friday from 10:30 to 1:30 each day. Following his shift, he remains at the hospital to have lunch with his co-workers. Asif currently has a job coach, but he is demonstrating progress in carrying out his tasks. Also, the job coach's hours have been reduced as Asif now gets some support from a co-worker. It is anticipated that Asif may need some continued paid support for a while. Staff have worked with Asif and his family to apply for Social Security benefits. The family is also exploring ways they might use work incentives to assist with self-paid supports.

Asif seems to enjoy himself at work; he can often be heard singing or laughing in the dish room. He has recently begun to say the name of his co-worker who eats lunch with him each day. His family reports that he is more content and relaxed at home since he began working. They are also looking for opportunities to provide Asif with additional community involvement. Asif was highlighted in a company newsletter at Fort Sanders Parkwest Medical Center.

Copyright 2003, Center on Disability and Employment. All Rights Reserved.

This electronic infobrief was designed by CDE of The University of Tennessee on behalf of the Tennessee Customized Employment Partnership (TCEP). TCEP is funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor (grant# E-9-4-1-0079). The opinions contained in this web site are those of the grantees and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Labor.

For more information about this case study, please contact:
Windie Wilson
(865) 544-5200 (voice)

Julie Huber
865-974-4487 (voice)
865-974-9400 (TTY)

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