The First Step to Employment for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities


Phase one of the three-part customized employment program is called Discovery. During the two-month discovery phase, AADD employment specialists use observation, conversation and demonstration with participants, as well as conversation with family and close friends, to identify interests and skills that might lead to a successful job placement.

Jeffrey, 23,  is one of our participants going through the Discovery process. His Employment Specialist, Latrecia, discovered that Jeffrey has an interest in clothing and the skills to work in a retail setting. Jeffrey is able to sort clothes on the rack, hang clothes on the hanger, and place them on the rack. Jeffrey is also able to piece outfits together according to color.

Jeffrey also has great eye contact. He is a people person. He loves introducing himself to people.

With Jeffrey having good eye contact and hand coordination, he would be good at sorting, bagging, folding. Jeffrey would also be able to work with companies where is he able to do assembly, sort, box items, and fold articles.

Cody, 22, is another participant going through the discovery phase. Cody really loves animals and is able to handle the care involved. Cody walks, bathes and feeds his dog Future, and makes sure he is well taken care of. The care Cody provides for his dog, indicates that Cody is responsible and can handle routine tasks.

Cody is also interested in the computer. He is able to go to different websites and type in links to different things that he likes, such as music and movies. He has also shown that he is good at taking components apart. 

Possible work environments for Cody could include pet clinics, the zoo, veterinary offices, and animal shelters. He would be able to work with companies that repair electronics.

Jeffery - Customized Employment

Jeffrey demonstrates his style sense for his Employment Specialist.

Cody and his dog Future show off some tricks

Cody and his dog Future show off some tricks

After the discovery process is completed, the employment specialist has a meeting with anyone who is active in the participants’ lives such as teachers, counselors, family, and friends who review the Employment Specialist’s observations and provide feedback.  A list of the participants’ skills is then generated for the Employment Specialist to refer to in the Job Development phase.

During the Development phase, the Employment Specialist takes the interests and skills learned during the Discovery phase, and goes out into the community to speak with potential employers. The Employment Specialist interviews potential employers to assess what their needs are, and then assesses whether those needs might have a match with the participant’s skills. Next, the Employment Specialist approaches the business to negotiate a position that will benefit both the employer and the participant.

Once a position has been agreed upon, the Employment Specialist will assist through the Third Phase and provide Job Coaching and ongoing support for our participants. We are looking forward to seeing where this journey lead for Jeffrey and Cody and wish them the best of luck.

You can help people like Jeffrey and Cody through the customized employment process.

  • $1,400 funds one month of the two-month discovery period
  • $720 funds two weeks of an eight-week job development process
  • $360 dollars funds eight hours of job development training
  • $180 funds one week of on-the-job coaching
  • $90 funds two hours of job readiness training
  • $25 funds one hour of on-the-job coaching

Every penny helps equip more people to enjoy independence, a sense of accomplishment and socialization through employment.

Please help us raise $50,000 in 50 days to fund scholarships for young adults with developmental disabilities for employment services.


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