April is Autism Awareness Month, College Graduate with Autism Shifts Public Misconceptions, In-Demand Jobs Week

An update and information report for doctors who provide consultative exams for OOD’s Division of Disability Determination

What's Inside:

April is Autism Awareness Month




April is National Autism Awareness Month - a time to educate the public and advocate for individuals with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) assists individuals with ASD in finding and maintaining a job and living independently. For more information about how OOD can help you or someone you know who has a disability find or maintain a job, visit OODWorks.com.




OOD Director Kevin Miller shares a personal message about autism and encourages others to become more involved by advocating for individuals with disabilities. Watch Director Miller's Autism Awareness Month video.


College Graduate with Autism Shifts Public Misconceptions




DJ Savarese is changing the way many perceive individuals with autism, especially those that are non-verbal. Despite having autism and being non-communicative in the traditional verbal sense, he was determined to attend college. DJ communicates through writing or using an IPad.




In 2012, he was accepted into Oberlin College, moved to Ohio from Iowa and became involved with OOD. “Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities' Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation helped make it possible for me to attend Oberlin College, a highly selective liberal arts college,” writes DJ. “They helped me formalize my employment goals as I began college, agreed to partner with Iowa's vocational rehabilitation program, and helped defray the cost of tuition, books and the technology I needed to function in a demanding college environment as a non-speaking person with sensory issues.”




DJ graduated in May 2017 with two bachelor's degrees - anthropology and creative writing. While in college, he participated in conference presentations and panel discussions, wrote numerous publications, and co-produced and wrote, Deej - a documentary film that follows his inclusion journey from ninth grade through the first semester at Oberlin College. A trailer to DJ’s film is available online at Deej movie.




Today, DJ lives in Iowa and works at Open Society Foundations' Human Rights Initiative where according to him, he teaches tools to promote self-determined inclusive lives for non-speaking autistics and community workshops designed to shift public misconceptions about non-speaking people.”


House Bill 115 Moves to Governor Kasich’s Desk


House Bill 115 is headed to Governor John Kasich’s desk for his signature. The bill will help improve the interactions between law enforcement officers and individuals with communication disabilities. Anyone with a diagnosed communication disability can voluntarily enroll in a database that connects to the LEADS (Law Enforcement Agencies Data System). An officer can then be made aware that the driver, or a person in the vehicle, may have difficulty communicating with the officer. Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities will be the lead agency in this initiative and we will keep you posted on when the bill will be signed into law.


In-Demand Jobs Week: A Celebration of In-Demand Jobs, Skills and Industries




Join the state of Ohio in celebrating the first In-Demand Jobs Week this May 7-11. In-Demand Jobs Week is a statewide, locally-led celebration of jobs, skills and industries that are in high demand among Ohio employers. Business, education and community leaders throughout the state have partnered to plan events and activities to inform students and job seekers about local in-demand jobs.



OOD will be holding six In-Demand Jobs Week events across the state for adults and students with disabilities. These events, including OOD job fairs, employer information sessions and tours of businesses will focus on jobs in manufacturing, retail, health care and more. Check out this In-Demand Jobs Week events map for details on OOD’s events and others around the state. Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, during the week of May 7th, as we highlight our In-Demand Jobs Week events. To learn how to plan or find an event near you, visit the In-Demand Jobs Week website.


OOD Council Applications Now Being Accepted


On March 1st, Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 144, creating the OOD Council. If you are interested in applying for a seat on the OOD Council, please complete the OOD Council application and submit it to boards.commissions@governor.ohio.gov


OOD Participates in Transition Student Expos

In Northwest Ohio, high school students listened to a panel of employers from Lowes, TJ Maxx and Kroger talk about job opportunities.



During the month of March, OOD’s vocational rehabilitation offices participated in five transition student expos in the southwest and northwest areas of the state. These events were coordinated with the Ohio Department of Education’s local State Support Teams.




More than 300 students and 15 employers participated in the 5-County Transition Student Expo in Hillsboro. This event brought together high school students with disabilities, their parents and local educators to explore the many available services and resources that support students as they transition from high school.



Four regional transition expos were held over the course of one week in Northwest Ohio at the University of Toledo, Owens Community College, Findlay Inn and Conference Center, and Four County Career Center. These interactive events offered students with disabilities, their parents and educators the opportunity to watch presentations and meet with staff from colleges, universities and community support agencies to gather information and resources.



In addition, all of these expos promoted self-advocacy skills and provided information about post-secondary education, employment and independent living options.  


A Link in the Chain: Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Natalie Myers



Watch as OOD Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Natalie Myers discusses the vocational rehabilitation process and how our counselors work on a case-by-case basis to provide the services most helpful to each individual.





OOD Sponsors Training to Promote Employment of Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing


OOD recently hosted a day-long training facilitated by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Center on Employment. The training, which was aimed to improve communication between individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and hearing individuals, was attended by staff from OOD and Ohio’s eight Community Centers for the Deaf (CCDs). The goal of the training was to teach OOD and CCD employees how to educate employers about hiring individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.




One exercise involved listening to a recorded job interview that simulated what a hard of hearing person would hear in that situation. Another exercise included a video with a silenced “talking head,” which tested the audience’s ability to read lips. The trainers emphasized that effective communication requires both hearing and non-hearing dialogue partners.




“Once employers understand that there are a lot of options for communication, hopefully more employers will feel comfortable in giving deaf and hard of hearing people opportunities in the workplace,” said OOD Rehabilitation Program Specialist Katie Scheetz.


DDD Unit Takes Record Number of Calls


The Customer Service and Development Unit (CSDU) is a special team at OOD’s Division of Disability Determination (DDD). The unit is comprised of 18 disability claims development analysts, known as CSDU agents. They deal with different types of customer requests and place a premium on customer service. The CSDU agents answer case related questions from claimants, which allow disability claims adjudicators more time to focus on case processing. Last year, the CSDU staff answered a record 123,398 number of calls. They are a valuable part of DDD operations.

Medical Schools Include Disability Training


Twelve U.S. medical schools, including The Ohio State University, are adding training for doctors to improve how they relate and communicate with patients who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The training, National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine, is part of a four-year initiative between Special Olympics International and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry. For more information, visit medical schools include disability training.


Connect to OOD on Social Media


Connect to OOD on TwitterFacebook and YouTube to see items like this about CVS’s new job training center at the Polaris Career Center in Middleburg Heights.   #ConnectToOOD  #OODWorks







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