2018 Autism at Work Initiative: Wright-Patt’s Pilot Program

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - April is Autism Awareness month, which makes it the perfect time to introduce a new effort at Wright-Patt.

Air Force Materiel Command is partnering with Wright State University to launch a pilot program called the Autism at Work Initiative. Its goal is to enhance the hiring opportunities for recent college graduates diagnosed on the autism spectrum.

“Wright State is one of the largest universities in the country to host students with disabilities. They are working to provide dozens of autistic candidates for employment opportunities here at Wright-Patt,” said Molly Fore, a human resources specialist with AFMC’s Personnel Program Branch.

The initiative’s aim is to find job opportunities in areas that require the particular skills members of the autism spectrum group may bring to the table, explained Fore.

Research has shown that these candidates bring a multitude of benefits to the workplace including unique perspectives, extraordinary focus, attention to detail, as well as many others.

The challenging aspect of a job search for candidates with autism is often difficulty navigating social situations, such as the interview process, which could hinder their ability to land a job within their field of study.

Wright State’s disability office is hosting the interview location to ensure that student interviews are conducted in a familiar area.

“Rick Baker, from AFMC’s science and engineering functional, and I are co-chairing this initiative,” said Fore. “We are working closely together to develop creative interviewing approaches. Our goal is to provide a level of comfort for these unique candidates, and give them a great opportunity for a successful job search.”

Beyond adapting the interview process, there will also be a separate on-boarding process for the selectees to ensure that they are familiar with installation protocol such as: how to approach an installation gate, what is military rank structure, what is reveille and retreat and what do they mean, etc.

Once candidates are selected for opportunities on base, they will be matched with a mentor, ensuring that they have help and guidance along the way.

AFMC is currently seeking volunteers to serve in these mentoring capacities.

Wright State will co-facilitate the mentor training in order to outline expectations, and to provide education on ways to successfully coach an employee who is on the autism spectrum.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor, or in learning more about Wright-Patt’s Autism at Work initiative, can contact Molly Fore at molly.fore@us.af.mil.