Governor Cooper: LiNC-IT employs neurodiverse professionals reaches milestone of serving 100 North Carolinians – Autism Society of NC

LiNC-IT works with 44 employers to help employees on the autism spectrum succeed at work, recognized as national model.

RALEIGH: North Carolina’s employment program for early career autistic professionals, LiNC-IT, has achieved an important milestone, Governor Roy Cooper announced. Since the Governor launched the program in 2018, LiNC-IT has supported 100 individuals with autism spectrum disorder, enabling them to be successful in careers that match their interests and abilities.

“Employers need talented, dedicated workers and people on the autism spectrum can often fill the bill,” Governor Cooper said. “LiNC-IT taps into this potential by matching neurodiverse individuals with careers where they can contribute and succeed.”

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and consists of a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. A 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the percentage of 8-year-olds that have been identified as having autism in North Carolina—1 in 39, or 2.5 percent—exceeds the national average of 1.85 percent. Compared to other areas in the U.S. that were monitored for ASD prevalence, North Carolina had the highest proportion of children with ASD who had received a comprehensive evaluation performed by age 3. However, only 23% of autistic adults with average or above-average intellectual abilities have a paid job in the community.

In 2018, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) launched LiNC-IT. LiNC-IT provides job coaching for individuals with ASD and their managers, and helps employers find and support new talent. Job coaching support is funded through NC Vocational Rehabilitation and provided by employment specialists at the UNC TEACCH Autism Center and the Autism Society of North Carolina. The program has 44 employer partners that have hired LiNC-IT talent with a variety of degrees including engineering, computer science, English, data science, accounting, and library science. LiNC-IT supports Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 92: Employment First for North Carolinians with Disabilities, which recently marked its four-year anniversary.

LiNC-IT has been recognized as a model program. Harvard’s Project on Workforce Development completed an evaluation of the program and wrote, “LiNC-IT offers its employer partners the opportunity to engage with a new untapped pool of highly skilled talent at a time where new talent pipelines are sorely needed. Creating neurodiverse talent initiatives not only brings enormous positive impact to neurodivergent individuals, but to society at large, while having a positive effect on organizational performance.”

Employers interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to contact NCBCE at Individuals interested in participating in the program should apply through the LiNC-IT website. You can hear from LiNC-IT employers and participants in this video.

Hear what partners and employers have to say about LiNC-IT:

“I was impressed with the abundance of resources available and the collaborative support provided by multiple agencies. The value this program brings to both employers as well as autistic individuals is impressive. I encourage all employers to think outside the box and explore non-traditional avenues for talent. This is truly an untapped candidate pool available to you!”

–     LiNC-IT Employer Partner Jennifer Moulton, Talent Acquisition Leader, SoftwareOne 

“Employment is one of the greatest issues autistic adults face so the partnership between the Autism Society of North Carolina, TEACCH and LiNC-IT is so important to address this critical need.”

–     Tracey Sheriff, CEO, Autism Society of North Carolina

“The collaboration between TEACCH, the Autism Society of North Carolina, and LiNC-IT has been a wonderful success. It has empowered autistic individuals and companies to succeed together.”

–     Laura Grofer Klinger, Ph.D. Executive Director, UNC TEACCH Autism Program

“The mission of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) is to help North Carolinians with disabilities achieve their unique goals for employment. Meaningful partnerships with employers and disability service providers, like those that support LiNC-IT, enable our neurodiverse clients to overcome traditional barriers to success on the job. In celebration of the milestone achievement of supporting more than 100 internships, DVRS recommits itself to continued support of the program and to applying lessons learned from LiNC-IT to increasing opportunities for competitive integrated employment for all disability communities”.

–     Kathie Trotter, MS, CRC, LCMHC, CPM Division Director, NC Vocational Rehabilitation Services

This content was originally published here.