ASD Employment Coaching

Employment Internship Program


The GroupWorks West Job Preparedness and Internship Program is designed to assist teens and young adults with high functioning autism and related challenges successfully navigate the 21st century work place. The centerpiece of this program is a parent created network of internship opportunities that are supported by a GroupWorks West job mentor. The job mentor supports each participant in the development of the cognitive, emotional, and social skills needed to succeed in the 21stcentury workplace.

Goals of the Internship Program:

1)      To help participants learn the social dynamics or “soft skills” needed to succeed in the workplace.

2)      To offer interns work that is meaningful, stimulating, and useful.

3)      To offer opportunities to develop and apply job-related skills that will help participants be prepared for future employment.

4)      To provide on-site and off-site support needed to ensure a successful internship experience.

5)      To assist interns in adding value to the companies or organizations in which they are placed.

GroupWorks West Job Mentor:

Participants are supported in their internships by highly trained job mentors. The job mentor helps interns successfully transition into their work environment and then provides ongoing support in navigating the unique challenges of the 21stcentury workplace. As part of the mentoring process, the job mentor supports relationships with colleagues and supervisors as needed.

Initially, the job mentor is on site with the intern one full day per week. The number of on-site job mentoring hours varies by intern and workplace needs.

Parent Network Placement sites:

Interns will be placed in established businesses/companies and organizations in the Los Angeles area that are owned and/or operated by parents of children on the autism spectrum. By utilizing a parent created network of internship opportunities, participants will be able to receive education and support on-site at a level that could not be matched in a conventional work environment.

The investment by parents in creating internship opportunities – combined with being training by the GroupWorks West job mentors – maximizes the development of skills and offers all participants the greatest opportunity for long-term employment success.

Placement of interns depends on their abilities, employment goals, and a best match with the tasks required by the company or organization.

Typical schedule:

The program is 16 weeks and is offered throughout the year. Interns are on a job site two days per week and at the GroupWorks West office in Culver City one half day per week. When at GroupWorks West job mentors review each participant’s internship experience and provide on-going support and vocational training.

Week 1:

1)      12 hours of pre-placement training and preparation at GroupWorks West (3 four hour training sessions).

Weeks 2 through 16:

1)      On-site placement 2 days per week (4 hours per day)

2)      Regular site visits by the GroupWorks West job mentor

3)      One half day per week/4 hours at GroupWorks West. Interns meet as a group to debrief about their internship, and receive on-going training from a job mentors.


On-going education and training at GroupWorks West:

All interns meet at GroupWorks West weekly to review their experiences and receive on-going education focusing on the skills needed to succeed in the 21st-century workplace. Using state-of-the-art research on valued employment skills, sessions cover such topics as:

1)      Interviewing skills

2)      The skills needed to begin a job (orientation and learning “the ropes”)

3)      Social problem-solving skills

4)      Workplace communication skills (formal and informal)

5)      Learning to receive supervision and feedback

6)      The importance of attitude and work ethic

7)      Gray area thinking and the art of innovation and improvisation

8)      Learning the “hidden curriculum”

9)      The importance of flexibility and conflict resolution skills

10)  Coping with workplace stress


Participants are either enrolled in high school or have graduated from high school (ages 16 to 26). Participants have a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, high functioning autism, nonverbal learning disorder, or a related challenge. These young men and women have average to above-average intelligence and must be highly motivated to become independent young adults.

About GroupWorks West:

GroupWorks West, founded in 2000, uses leading edge research and empirically validated therapeutic techniques to help children, teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum develop and maintain the skills needed to succeed in their home, school, and community environments. Through carefully structured small group activities, GroupWorks West focuses on developing the social, emotional, and cognitive competencies needed for a satisfying and meaningful quality of life.

Scholarships and Sliding Scale Available

Contact Christopher Mulligan LCSW at 310/287-1640 or email

< Back to view all blogs