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UT FUTURE Empowers Students to Gain Employment

by Courtney Frederick, ASK Writing Intern

Every year, about 8 students are accepted into the UT FUTURE Program’s 2-3 year certificate program after high school. FUTURE’s goal is to increase each student’s ability to be more independent and more employable.

The average student in FUTURE:

  • Has completed special education or proof of eligibility for IDEA in high school
  • Is 18 to 29 years of age
  • Is not able to enroll and/or not likely to be successful in a typical 4-year college or university program with accommodations
  • Is diagnosed with an intellectual disability and/or autism
  • Has at least a 3rd grade reading level
  • Has no severe behavior or emotional problems and can handle and adapt to change

Students are required to take 3 classes within the program, including life skills, career and life planning, and digital literacy. In addition to these, students audit anywhere from 2-4 regular academic and/or physical education courses per semester, most of which they select themselves according to their own interests.

In addition, internships are required every semester to help the participants gain experience and build essential skills for employment. FUTURE provides placement for internships, but students can find their own opportunities as well. These internships are preferred to be different each semester so students can gain different work experiences and skills while figuring out what they like and don’t like.

Autism Site Knoxville will be training one FUTURE intern every semester for six hours per week. Interns at ASK can be expected to learn how to stock shelves, do inventory checks, clean the facility, and greet visitors.

UT FUTURE was originally funded by a federal grant called The Transition and Post-Secondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities in 2010 through the Department of Education. Students pay approximately $2500 per semester for the program, and some funding may be available through Vocational Rehabilitation.

UT FUTURE’s Program Coordinator is Tom Beeson, who gained much experience with adults with autism spectrum disorders as former director at Breakthrough Corporation. Tom is also a member of Autism Site Knoxville’s Advisory Team and Autism Training Development Committee.

For more information, please visit http://futureut.utk.edu


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