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Austin Dog Alliance

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Central Texas’ Young Adults with Autism First to Receive Dog-Assisted Career Training

In response to overwhelming unemployment among young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), the nonprofit Austin Dog Alliance offers the first-ever dog-assisted vocational training that focuses on preparing for careers in pet-care industries with funding from Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).

Austin, TX, December 10, 2013 --( For young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), having a rewarding career with responsibility and respect can be a pipedream – because it’s estimated that less than one-third of young adults with ASD may even have jobs, much less a position many would call rewarding. Now, Student + Canines equals Opportunities for Rewarding Employment (S+CORE), a job-training program underway at the nonprofit Austin Dog Alliance, is working to change that.

According to National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, a 10-year study of youth who received special education services, of participants aged 23-26, only 32.5% of those with ASDs worked for pay versus an average of 59.0% for those without ASDs.

Thought to be the only vocational program of its kind in the US, S+CORE is funded by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and offers two levels of vocational training. Upon completion, Austin Dog Alliance job placement specialists and job coaches will assist students in securing employment as kennel technicians, grooming assistants, vet tech assistants and related positions.

“The unemployment rate among adults with ASD is criminal,” says Carolyn Honish, S+CORE instructor and Austin Dog Alliance program coordinator. “Not only do these young adults want and need to work, they have wonderful, unique abilities such as intense task concentration that can help businesses become more successful.

“S+CORE is designed to help them reach their full potential and reach out to potential employers to help them understand the talents these young men and women have to offer.”

S+CORE‘s Job Skills for Dog-related Careers explores dog-related occupations, animal care, control and training and includes three weeks practicing skills in a workplace setting. The 12-week Intermediate Job Skills for Dog-related Careers will prepare the student for entry-level positions and includes advanced dog handling, basic vet assistant skills and soft skills such as networking, problem solving, critical thinking, integrity, teamwork and work ethics.

S+CORE is the result of the Alliance’s past success with its spring 2013 job-training program at the Texas School for the Deaf, which brought rave reviews from parents and staff alike.

Their secret to success? The dogs.

“Dogs make it all work,” says Debi Krakar, Austin Dog Alliance executive director. “They seem to have an instinctive understanding of students with special needs. Dogs are patient and non-judgmental. Likewise, our students tune into dog body language and demonstrate extraordinary compassion when handling them.”

The first S+CORE class will graduate mid-December. Both introductory and intermediate classes will be offered in January for DARS and non-DARS participants.

About Austin Dog Alliance
Located in Cedar Park, Texas, Austin Dog Alliance, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, provides youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other disabilities with dog-assisted programs that improve their ability to learn and reach their full potential. Programs include social skill classes for children aged six to 15 and job training for young adults to increase opportunities for meaningful employment with the goal of becoming self-sufficient.

Austin Dog Alliance also provides therapy dog teams to local hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, assistance to at-risk readers at schools and libraries through its Bow Wow Reading Dog program, and a variety of after-school and summer camp programs at its seven-acre wooded facility, as well as human-dog training classes for beginners and advanced dog owners. The organization depends on donations to sustain and grow its community outreach programs.
Contact Information
Austin Dog Alliance
Debi Krakar

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