Deployed 2 Work
Deployed 2 Work
Deployed 2 Work is a federally funded, randomized study for military connected or military dependent youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Participants are randomly selected to either receive vocational training within their current school setting or in a community-based internship program, Project SEARCH + ASD Supports, at Fort Eustis, VA.
The Project SEARCH + ASD Supports model is a nine month employment training program for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are making the transition from high school to work. Instead of attending classes at their local high schools, Project SEARCH students report to Fort Eustis each day. Over the course of the school year, they participate in three unpaid internships at three different locations on the Army installation. The goal is for students to obtain competitive employment in their local communities once they have completed the program.
Students are matched with internship sites based on their individualized strengths, needs, and preferences. The internships allow students to gain real life work experience and skills in different areas. Examples of internship possibilities include:
- Retail merchandising
- Warehouse stocking
- Clerical, filing, scanning work
- Housekeeping assistant
- Patient care technician assistant
- Linen delivery
- Front desk and exercise equipment assistant
As part of the research that Virginia Commonwealth University is conducting, Deployed 2 Work provides intensive, autism-specific supports to students participating in the program. Students receive systematic instruction when learning work-related tasks. Visual supports, self-monitoring strategies and handheld technologies are used to build task independence. Students learn work-related social skills through classroom instruction, problem-solving scenarios, role playing, video modeling, and extended opportunities for practice in real life settings. We use applied behavior analysis strategies to address behaviors of concern and to teach replacement behaviors; VCU's research team also provides ongoing technical assistance for behavioral problem-solving.
Appreciation of Dr. Whittenburg's Service
Dr. Holly Whittenburg (right) was presented with a US flag flown over the Ft. Eustis Army installation and certificate of appreciation of service on June 3, 2020 (View the Video). Dave Harvey (left), the Project SEARCH Business Liaison from Ft. Eustis, shared this flag as a token of the installation's appreciation of Dr. Whittenburg's service. Since 2017, Dr. Whittenburg has served as the VCU RRTC Project SEARCH Site Coordinator for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program focused on transition-aged youth with autism located at Ft. Eustis. The research study ended in June and Dr. Whittenburg has accepted a faculty position at Washington State University. She has worked for the VCU RRTC since 2013. Thank you Dr. Whittenburg for all you have done for VCU, Ft. Eustis and most importantly, youth with disabilities!
Faculty and Staff
Carol Schall, Ph.D.
Director of ACE Technical Assistance and Co-Investigator, Research and Project Director of Deployed 2 Work
Dr. Carol Schall is the Co-Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence,, the Principal Investigator of the Virginia Autism Resource Center, and the researcher in the grant, The Effect of a 9-month Internship Intervention for Military Dependents with ASD. She has over 30 years of experience supporting adolescents and adults with ASD as a teacher, group home supervisor, administrator, researcher, and consultant. Dr. Schall provided positive behavior support consultation and instructional technical assistance for the Project SEARCH Plus ASD Supports program for the past 8 years at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Schall was also the research coordinator for this project.
Jennifer McDonough, M.S.
Jennifer Todd McDonough has been a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and working in the field of employment for people with disabilities for over 10 years. She earned her M.S. from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Rehabilitation Counseling. Ms. McDonough is the Associate Director of Training at VCU-RRTC. She is also the Project Coordinator for the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders DRRP. Additionally, Ms. McDonough provides technical assistance and disseminates resources nationally to individuals interested in pursuing self-employment. Ms. McDonough is a national expert on Social Security Disability Benefits and Work Incentives. Throughout her career with VCU-RRTC, Ms. McDonough has worked directly with individuals with disabilities assisting them in locating employment and determining accommodation needs.
Vocational Rehab Counselor
Tommy served 13 years in the Army before transitioning career fields. He graduated from Bryant & Stratton College in 2015 with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. After that he began working with individuals with autism at the Project SEARCH site at Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth, VA. He then came to VCU-RRTC in 2017. He currently works as the employment specialist at the Fort Eustis Project Search site.
For more information about Deployed 2 Work, please contact Carol Schall, Ph.D., Project Director, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (804)828-6979.
Deployed 2 Work is funded by Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) W81XWH-16-1-0707.