Joey applied for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services while still a student at Liberty High School in Las Vegas in 2018. Joey had been diagnosed with Autism and Specific Learning Disability and required significant reinforcement and praise to be successful. His disability meant he was also highly distractible, impulsive, and restless. He was unsure what career would be the best option for him, but he knew he really wanted to help people. Not only did Joey want to help people, but he wanted to make them SMILE every day. Through discussions during his transition planning meetings, Joey was recommended for the Project SEARCH Program.
The Project SEARCH program at Sunrise Hospital is a partnership with the Clark County School District (CCSD) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). It is a job training site for Project SEARCH – a national organization that provides people with disabilities an opportunity to learn skills necessary to become employed.
The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with significant disabilities make successful transitions to productive adult lives. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs. In addition, the presence of a Project SEARCH program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.
In this program, Joey was able to explore his skills and interests. Joey is often misunderstood as he is sometimes overly friendly. He did make a few mistakes along the way as not all patients and family members understood his humor. Nonetheless, through extensive Pre- Employment Transition Services, Joey developed excellent coping mechanisms as he faced the challenge of disclosing his disability to receive the appropriate accommodations in the classroom and workplace. Joey learned to advocate for his needs and show how really motivated he is to make his employment goals a reality.
He was able to learn various trades at the hospital and make an informed choice to receive extra training in the Transport Department. He decided to volunteer beyond his scheduled hours – late in the evening and even on weekends – to work with experienced staff and develop further His size and stature made him the perfect candidate to transport patients around all day – all over the hospital. His Project SEARCH internship host, Sunrise Hospital, recognized his skill and talent and offered him a full-time position in the Transport Department. Every day, Joey makes patients SMILE as they are on their way to their next procedure, testing, or discharged from the hospital. He is doing meaningful work at a living wage due to his determination and VR Transition Services.