Students with autism learn valuable life skills through internship program

"People with autism have so many gifts, they pay attention to details, they're loyal, they are schedule-oriented."


High school students all the way up to recent graduates are learning how to be successful in the workplace.

A University of Central Florida program has teamed up with a local company to make sure their resumes shine.

The interns are all people with autism who are learning valuable life skills.

Asia Abualsamid and Katryna McElhinney are two 16-year-old high school interns working on proposals and contracts at Loyal Source.

The Orlando-based company provides health care, technology and support services to government agencies and private companies.

"Being here, I just think it's a really good experience. I really enjoy it, and I really love being on the computer," McElhinney said.

They are learning the inner workings of the company throughout the one-week program.

All the interns have autism, a neurological condition that affects communication and social skills.

UCF-CARD is the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, and it has partnered with Loyal Source so that students can gain work experience.

College graduate Nathan Nasby said he's ready.

"I feel much more prepared for the workforce, and now I am much more capable of public speaking, much more capable, finding the right jobs, finding the right roles," Nasby said.

"People with autism have so many gifts, they pay attention to details, they're loyal, they are schedule-oriented," said autism disorders specialist Joanna Couch.

This is just the second year that Loyal Source has hosted this program. Last year, one of the men went through the program and was hired in the marketing department.

UCF-CARD serves more than 14,000 people with autism and related disabilities in seven Central Florida counties.