New Special Needs Program Helps People Get Jobs

Franque ThompsonOMAHA (KPTM)- One in 68 children in the US is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or A.S.D., and now a national program is set up to help kids with special needs get into the work force. The Papillion La Vista Library is nice and quiet, just how 19-year-old Jeremy Vezner prefers it. "It's certainly a lot less crowded and certainly, definitely not as loud as a lot of other places that one could have a starting job in," said Vezner. Vezner has A.S.D. and said finding the right kind of job was difficult for him because his case is special, and that he needs a quiet environment. That is when Project SEARCH helped. Project SEARCH is an intern setup aimed to give students with special needs on-the-job training, which some say is perfect because they strive in jobs that have a high turnover rate. "By the end of the first ten weeks, you see a pride to the point where they feel part of the team, and they are, they're functioning members of the team, contributing and making a difference for us as well," said David Scott with Embassy Suites in La Vista. While Venzer likes the library, he hopes it's only the first page to his story of one day becoming a computer engineer.Project SEARCH has 12 hosts sites in Nebraska. Papillion La Vista Public Schools and Omaha Public Schools are sites and Bellevue will start its program next year. The states graduation rate is 86 percent, which beats the national average of 65 percent. Venzer and some of his friends are about to graduate and already have jobs lined up.