The Help Group Hosts the California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders Excellence in Employment Awards

May 10, 2010
Senator Carol Liu and Dr. Barbara Firestone Recognize 10 Outstanding Award Recipients

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif., April 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Friday, April 23, 2010, The Help Group hosted the inaugural California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders"Excellence in Employment Awards" reception at its Sherman Oaks Campus. The award honors individuals, organizations, and businesses that are leading the way in providing employment opportunities for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other special needs. The honorees were nominated by the North Los Angeles Autism Regional Taskforce (NLAART) – one of the 12 regional taskforces established by the Senate Select Committee.

Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge), Senate Select Committee Member, and Dr. Barbara Firestone, Chair, the Statewide Coordinating Council of Autism Taskforces, Chair, NLAART and President & CEO, The Help Group, presented the awards to 10 recipients: Anne Altman, International Creative Management; The Gott Family, Danny's Farm; Jons Marketplace; Eric Amundsun & Joclynn Benjamin, Leaps N Boundz; Steve Jameson, Los Angeles Daily News; Joey Travolta, Inclusion Films & Team Diversity Media; Vons; Gil Zaharoni, Symmetry Electronics; Rick Ziegler, Manager, Vons Store #77; and Kathleen Oliva, Manager, Sun Valley Blockbuster Video.

Autism now affects one in 110 children in the United States. In the state of California 84% of individuals with autism are under the age of 22. Within the next five years, an unprecedented number of teenagers with ASD will become adults. Currently, there is a significant gap of employment opportunities for these young people, with an unemployment rate of over 90%. The Senate Select Committee is developing public policy to address the compelling need.

The California Senate Select Committee on Autism & Related Disorders, chaired by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, is a bipartisan, 14-member committee formed to promote policies and legislation that will better assist individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Three Select Committee members, Senators Carol Liu, Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica), represent the North Los Angeles area. For more information see

"We are honored to recognize these fabulous employers who have demonstrated their commitment to young people with disabilities by providing them with meaningful jobs in the mainstream of our lives," said Sen. Liu.

"Today we celebrate the potential of young people with autism and other special needs to lead productive and rewarding lives in our communities - and we're here to honor those who give these young people the chance to succeed," Dr. Firestone told the enthusiastic audience of taskforce members and other guests.

Colby Pittard, an individual with autism, has worked for the past 12 years at International Creative Management and has been mentored by award recipient Anne Altman. Everyone was very moved everyone when he said with great dignity and pride, "I love coming to work every day. Thank you to everyone here for making opportunities like this possible."

Members of The Help Group Children's Choir and long standing friend, Louis Price, former lead singer of The Temptations, closed the festivities with a rousing medley to a cheering audience.

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Recognized as a leader in the field, The Help Group offers innovative autism spectrum disorders programs. Its four specialized day schools serve more than 900 students on a daily basis, preschool through 22 years of age. Through its public awareness and outreach programs, graduate and post graduate professional training, applied research, conference and seminars, parent education programs, publications, and efforts and the state and national levels, The Help Group touches the lives of children with special needs and their families through the United States and in other parts of the world.

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Written By: Lawrence Beimel
Senior Marketing Manager
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