Discover Learn Work


Since 2013, the UCEDD has been providing community training and technical assistance to Discover Learn Work (DLW) Career Training Services, a service of Ability Beyond, Inc., one of our community partner organizations. DLW provides inclusive, community-based transition and career training services to adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum differences, autistic-like presentations, mental health/behavioral challenges, and other developmental disabilities.

The Values Underlying the DLW Project:

  • Employment First because employment leads to other valued life outcomes;
  • ALL can work (and it is always preferable to be paid with benefits) given customized employment and support;
  • Services to the unique individuals served must be grounded in trauma-informed and relationship-based positive behavior supports as well as an understanding of the movement, anxiety, communication, and sensory brain differences in autism;
  • The presumption of competence with recognition of neurodiversity;
  • The celebration of diversity and recognition that one size does not fit all; and
  • Individualized, person-centered career planning building on each participant’s strengths, interests, preferences, and skills.

Discover Learn Work includes:

All Components of Career Training Services are Grounded in 4 Service Pillars:

First Job/Valuable
Work Experience
  • Work assignments in dynamic business
  • Environments foster success and ability to learn from mistakes
Adult Continuing
  • Professional skills
  • Real world academics
  • Social dynamics
  • Technical skills
  • College linkages
  • Job placement
  • Follow up support
  • Natural supports and community connections
Meaningful Employment
and Personal Success
  • Internships
  • Volunteerism
  • Discovery opportunities
  • Applied learning

These “pillars” are not approached sequentially but rather scheduled according to individual participants’ career plans. These plans flow from ecological and other valid forms of assessments of each person’s strengths, interests, preferences, and skills. A multi-leveled curriculum library enables staff to select learning modules based on individual career plans and differentiate their instruction.  Staff receives initial and ongoing training and supervision to assure fidelity.

Flexible Support Model

Services and supports are provided on an individualized basis according to the following flexible support model:

Job carve and / or long-term paid supports to find / keep a typical job
On-going natural supports / reasonable accommodations most definitely needed (on-going check-ins, booster coaching)
Needs to learn compensatory strategies; may need some reasonable accommodations (staff works with employer to individualize job but still competitive)
Needs to learn specific skills to be able to get / keep a job like others w/o a disability (short term job coaching)

Fluid Overtime as Circumstances Change

Population Pyramid
Customized employment available at any support level

Individuals requiring long-term supports to sustain employment are transitioned to other employment services of Ability Beyond, Inc. For a comparison of the four Career Training Services of Discover Learn Work, click Components of Career Training Services.docx.  The project has involved collaboration with families, school districts, state agencies (e.g., CT Departments of Education, Rehabilitation Services, Developmental Services, and Children and Families), other provider organizations, employers, and community resources for, e.g., transportation, internships, and education.  Individualized assistive technology maximizes participant’s increasing independence and access to their communities. 

Questions regarding this project please contact: