Special Needs Articles

The Perfect Match

LaunchAbility is a win-win for the differently-abled and their employers

by Karyn Brodsky

What provides the biggest sense of fulfillment in the workplace?  I think most people could agree that it’s payment for doing a job you love and one that you’re good at. This is a challenge that everyone faces in their lives.  For young adults with special needs, finding that happy place presents an even greater challenge.

Enter LaunchAbility, a group of specialists who work with young adults with special needs to discover their passion, assess their capabilities, and then match them with a position at a company that best suits their talents.

“We’re not a staffing company; we’re more like a matchmaker,” explains Anne Hudson, Director of Disability Hiring. “We look at our clients’ abilities and try to match them to companies who will work with ‘differently-abled’ individuals.” Hudson says that LaunchAbility helps their clients build confidence and independence while achieving their maximum potential.

The process begins by spending time with each individual to assess their abilities and strengths while managing expectations.  Then their profile is created which also includes their interests and limitations.

Next, is the job development phase; LaunchAbility representatives reach out to the community to see which companies are open to the program and work to make that match between the client and their new employer.  “It takes a lot of hard work; we get a lot of ‘no’s’ for every one ‘yes,’ but we work to show companies how this relationship can benefit them,” says Hudson.

The final step is job coaching. The coach works side by side with the employee at the position until he or she can function independently in their job.  “It depends on individual and employer needs,” explains Hudson. “We track how the employee is doing and how the relationship is progressing.”

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The agency has been around for over 50 years and morphed from a one-room schoolhouse for special needs children into today’s differently-abled, adult workforce matching service. “We still have the bell from the original school and ring it when celebrating a success,” Hudson says.

Hudson says that LaunchAbility’s success rate is palpable.  After placing hundreds of clients from Dallas, Collin, Denton, Kaufman, and Tarrant counties, 88% of their current clients have worked at their jobs for more than one year, 49% for more than five years, and 30% for more than 10 years.

The effort to help those who are differently-abled doesn’t stop there. Current initiatives include establishing an autism internship initiative with a Fortune 500 Company, developing an IT certification program for adults with autism, running pre-job training programs through the local school district, implementing a transition services program, and educating families on how to prepare a child for work when there’s a disability involved.  Hudson says, “It’s important to note that our programming is always growing, and we’re looking for ways to serve more people.”

For more information, visit launchability.org or call 972.991.6777.

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