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Giving hope: Free Geigerman Lecture highlights employment opportunities for people on autism spectrum


BBSB2 UTHealth psychiatry Professor Katherine Loveland, PhD, counsels a patient with high-functioning autism. The free Geigerman Lecture April 9, 2019 will focus on career opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. (Photo by Deborah Lake/UTHealth)
By uthealthhouston | March 22, 2019

According to the National Autism Indicators Report called “Transition into Adulthood” by Drexel University, young adults on the autism spectrum have the lowest rate of employment compared to their peers with other disability types, while 4 in 10 never work for pay between high school and their early 20s. Those who are employed are mostly working part-time jobs and earning low wages. Although these individuals often face interpersonal challenges, companies are now discovering that they are valuable employees, helping to drive innovation, growth, and return on investment.

The free annual Benjamin J. Geigerman Lecture Series will feature “Improving the Bottom Line: How Three Major Corporations Benefited by Hiring Individuals with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders,” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9. The event, hosted by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), will be held at The Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS University Life Center, 7440 Cambridge St.

Public and private companies, academic institutions, government organizations, schools, philanthropists, civil societies, and the autism community are invited to attend.

Panel speakers bring years of experience and insight from leading programs that seek to recruit and employ people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They will share the best hiring and workplace practices for a thriving work environment, as well as ways to leverage the unique talents and skills of persons on the autism spectrum.

• Nyamusi Lee, MBA, vice president at JPMorgan Chase, manages the creation and execution of the firm’s strategies to develop a talent pipeline for those on the autism spectrum.
• Hiren Shukla, director at Ernst & Young, leads the company’s neurodiversity program, an initiative to recruit and hire people on the spectrum for technology-related jobs.
• Jose H. Velasco, vice president of products and innovation, heads the SAP Autism at Work program. He has presented on autism in the workplace around the world, including to the United Nations, U.S. Congress, and World Economic Forum. In 2016, SAP launched the Autism at Work Summit, a conference series designed to foster collaboration to improve opportunities for individuals with autism in the labor market.

Katherine A. Loveland, PhD, Landmark Charities Professor of Autism Research and Treatment at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, will introduce the speakers. Loveland is director of the Changing Lives Through Autism Spectrum Services program at UT Physicians Psychiatry Outpatient Services-BBSB, where she focuses on treating adolescents and adults.

The Geigerman Lecture Series was founded in 2015 in memory of Benjamin J. Geigerman, a young man with high functioning ASD. He exhibited promise and incredible talents, graduating from college with honors. However, he had difficulty obtaining employment, leaving him without hope or a sense of self-worth.




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