I was at the Massachusetts State House for the hearing on May 21, 2013. This is essentially my liveblogging of the testimony on H75, except that it gets put up later. This is in four separate posts, the others can/will be found here:
Establishing a 2 year pilot program for adults with Aspergers and autism, providing services with the goal of paid employment, would establish a committee to figure out how best to support us in reaching employment. It would take 25 students on the pilot program. Many Autistic people have difficulty finding and keeping a job. Aims to help Mass Rehab in their helping people with employment. Still working on cost estimate. 1st testimonial is by a person who was on the legislature and sponsored the bill initially. She has a 23 year old son who is autistic.
2nd testimony: Community college is creating programs to help those of us who are aging out, getting us into jobs. Which is important, since this is one of the things we have trouble with. These college programs are getting their autistic students hired at 80%+ employment, which is much better than the employment rate for Autistic people in general. (That is estimated typically to be in the 20-25% range for full employment, if I recall.)
3rd testimony: 29 year old with a masters degree, has Aspergers, Mass Rehab says she interviews fine, but she has never had a full time job. She notes that most people see her as just weird, even with her disability documented. Workplace politics is one of the things she has trouble with, and would need help with. She feels that she would be able to be a taxpayer quickly if she got a job, and finds that the current Mass Rehab services are not sufficient for getting her into the workforce. (If she becomes a taxpayer, and so do the others in the program, it pays for itself long-term. Which is good for the whole budget thing.)
Question about metrics, how to measure success. The bill will not set the metrics, will leave that to Mass Rehab and the program itself. They want to help find meaningful employment at the level of education we have. Multiple advanced degrees does not need a $10/hr job, needs a job that will pay enough to take care of student loans and should be using the skills relevant to the advanced degree.
Note about making sure there is a control group to prove that the pilot program really does help. Since the pilot program is only meant for 25 people, getting an extra 25 who will just be tracked during those 2 years is probably doable- maybe do it in exchange for "if it turns out this thing helps at all, you get in next" and maybe a small stipend?Personally, I think this bill is important. I don't know if their pilot program is going to be as good as the
community college one the 2nd person was talking about, because I suspect Mass Rehab doesn't have the same level of understanding of what is needed in the portions of the workforce that aren't stuff considered appropriate for people with intellectual disability, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. This one is going to be designed for autistic people with education who are looking at more complicated and higher-paying jobs, as far as I can tell, so maybe they will figure it out and it will improve with time. This is one I really do want to see.