Vocational Services for Individuals with Disabilities in Omaha, Nebraska

The Autism Center of Nebraska offers supported employment, community inclusion and habilitative day services to individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and autism to individuals aged 21 and over. Our goal is to promote a sense of community inclusion and social belonging throughout eastern Nebraska. Our services are tailored to meet individuals exactly where they are – whether on a career development path,  supervised day services, volunteer opportunities, or community inclusion.We partner with local businesses and job placement agencies to help our individuals with developmental disabilities, autism, and intellectual disabilities discover their untapped potential. By providing dedicated career coaching, vocational services, and pre-vocational skills training to individuals with developmental disabilities and special needs, the ACN’s supported employment services have helped individuals with autism and additional developmental disabilities find meaning and purpose through gainful employment in their very own Omaha community and beyond.

Pre-Vocational Services for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities and Behavioral Challenges

The Autism Center of Nebraska offers some of the Midwest’s most unique options for pre-vocational skills training. Individuals attending ACN Day Services are provided countless opportunities to develop skills in artistic expression. Instead of the old model of contract work and piece work, ACN revolutionized day services by creating an artists’ co-op model in which a variety of arts and crafts items are created and marketed, with all profits returned to the artisans. At the same time, participants are learning the most fundamental concepts of employment, such as coming to work, transitioning from break time to work time, preparing and bringing a lunch, dealing with frustration at work, etc. This has been such a successful approach to day services that other provider agencies and the State of Nebraska have approached ACN for advice and guidance in improving services. Each day, the focus is on individual choice and personal fulfillment. The happy smiles are evidence we are providing an environment that’s really quite special.

Our pre-vocational adult day program, called The Art Garden is a not-for-profit art gallery and gift shop in Omaha that sells handcrafted art goods created with pride by individuals served by the Autism Center of Nebraska. This is a unique, groundbreaking program, that teaches on-the-job pre-vocational skills, while also giving back to the Omaha community by providing beautiful handcrafted art goods. Area artists are invited to participate with workshops on various art techniques as well as an inclusive marketing opportunity. The goal of The Art Garden is to create an environment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to thrive professionally and receive pre-vocational skills training they can use as engaged, active members of the Omaha community. To learn more about The Art Garden, visit https://theartgardennebraska.org/

The Art Garden promotes dignity, decision-making, and skill development among our special needs individuals, while also providing opportunities for creative expression. This can be immensely therapeutic and beneficial for individuals who have behavioral issues such as aggression, which is also something our career services staff is highly trained to handle.

To learn more about the Art Garden visit https://theartgardennebraska.org/

Vocational Support Services and Supported Employment

For high-functioning individuals with autism or other developmental disabilities, intermittent supported employment services may be necessary to ensure the highest success in the workplace. Our vocational services include career counselors that pair with individuals that have demonstrated independence in the workplace, but might need a bit more job-specific employee skills training than is offered at their place of employment. Our vocational support staff help to ensure career success by providing the extra assistance and guidance necessary for special needs individuals to maintain employment after they have been hired.

Making the Employment Connection for Persons with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities  

For individuals with autism, intermittent supported employment services may be the key to ensuring success in the workplace. Our specialized employment counselors use an intensive interview process to identify each individual’s desires, interests, and non-negotiables, ensuring a good match with employment opportunities. Of course, getting a job is only the first step: Keeping a job and learning the invisible rules of the workplace is even more important. Our highly skilled job coaches assist in learning the job, and navigating the social rules of the workplace. And we are always available down the road, should the individual need a little bit of a brush-up on those workplace skills. We are the resource on which you can rely.

Employment services through ACN are accessed in two ways: persons with autism can request a referral to ACN Connections from Vocational Rehabilitation; persons with other developmental disabilities can access supported employment through their Developmental Disabilities funding. In all cases, Vocational Rehabilitation serves as the point of first contact. Each person’s employment plan is individualized and will specify how supports will be accessed.

Contact The Autism Center of Nebraska to learn more about our employment and career services for adults and teens with disabilities!