Autism and professional insertion – it works!

For the past two years, Andros has employed individuals with autism at its Novandie plant (in the town of Auneau, Eure-et-Loir). In September 2016, the experience took on a new dimension with the opening of the Maison du Parc (park house) with our support. The Maison du Parc provides housing for employees with autism.

Employees like any other

Adults with autism still have trouble gaining employment. Their potential is often misunderstood and management infrastructure is lacking. And yet, except in more severe cases, it is possible to integrate employees with autism when they are provided with gradual and individual support.

In 2014, at the instigation of Andros and the association “Vivre et travailler autrement” (living and working differently), a project was launched to develop a service able to integrate employees into the company, provide supervision based on educational strategies, and accommodation, in order to demonstrate that employees with autism can be work and thrive in the labour force. The Maison du Parc was established based on the commitment of the private sector and a partnership with the public sector (the Regional Health Agency) and association ADAPEI 28.
So far, the project has led to the creation of 7 permanent part-time jobs for adults with autism.

 

adult autism worker foundation orange
adult autism worker foundation orange
novandie plant adult autism worker foundation orange

 

“We want them to be as productive as our other employees,” , explains Yannick Bontemps, director of the Novandie plant (an Andros subsidiary). “They could not be integrated into the production line because, even though people with autism respond well to routine, any potential interruptions in the chain could be a source of great stress for them. We could however offer them positions where everything was predictable: preparing formulas, packing, labelling, weighing, mixing, etc.”

Inside the factory, visual aids are used to show the order of tasks and explain the work to be performed. A spatial and temporal infrastructure has also be set up to reduce confusion, provide a sense of security and curb behavioural manifestations. The work station is designed in conjunction with the team leaders. The other employees are both enthusiastic and committed and have helped to make the project a success.

A busy schedule

The workers with autism at Auneau can hold the same positions as their colleagues. It does however require a great amount of concentration for them. The individuals therefore work part time, every morning from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (i.e. 17 hours a week).

The rest of the day at the Maison du Parc, there are social activities (cooking, cleaning, etc.), physical and manual tasks, learning and relaxation. The individuals also help with household chores and work on their social skills.
The aim of the assistants is to help them create a link with the outside world and encourage them to open up to the world around them in their own time. There are regular cultural outings, social gatherings and leisure activities organised outside the centre.

 

house autism integration Andros
The Maison du Parc has a herb garden which is used for afternoon activities

 

Run by the association “Vivre et travailler autrement” (living and working differently), the Maison du Parc offers workers with autism pleasant and comfortable accommodation near their work. There are two buildings, one housing facilities and function rooms, the other for private and communal living areas.
The former farmhouse has been fully renovated and modernised. As part of our call for projects called “autism, social and societal insertion,” we have arranged the communal living areas to provide the best possible accommodation for these young workers.

A positive experience

Two years after the arrival of the first young worker with autism, and before the employees had settled into their new accommodation, the project is proving to be successful in several ways. Not only because it allowed for other positions to be created, but also it brought the employees together to support the integration of different individuals.

By 2018, the full complement is expected to include 12 workers with autism and 9 supervisors, creating a total of 20 jobs.

Currently, apart from the cost of supervision, the employees with autism are just as productive as the rest of the factory workers. This is a leading argument to convince other companies to follow the lead.

 

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