TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- SRP is the first company in Arizona to hire adults with autism through a program dedicated to bridging the gap between disabilities and employment.

Alex Polesky, 25, said finding a full-time career was frustrating. He had been rejected from grocery store and movie theater jobs.

"It was a lot more depression than anger," he said.

Polesky is on the autism spectrum and finds it difficult communicating and interacting with people.

"For me, personally, it's always been the smaller things that I have the most trouble with... things like looking people in the eyes. Knowing when people are losing interest in a conversation," he explained.

However, he's very detailed-oriented and that's a skill that's valued and needed in SRP's IT department.

The Precisionists is a national company focused on creating jobs for individuals with disabilities. The company has chosen to expand in Arizona. 

The Precisionists hired Polesky back in October to work as a software analyst contractor with SRP.

"That was one of the most emotional, one of the best feelings I'd had in a long time," said Polesky.

He and another employee, Trent Shipley who also lives with autism, are in charge of testing software that helps SRP employees do their jobs to help deliver power and water to an estimated 2 million customers.

Hisi coworker, John Rannells, wasn't sure what to expect when he met Polesky, but is impressed.

"Alex is incredible. He's so detailed. It's just amazing," said Rannells.

Last month, Governor Doug Ducey announced the Phoenix Precision Project is expected to create 500 jobs for people living with disabilities in the next five years.

Susan Smith is an SRP IT manager and said the Precisionists helped employees get comfortable understanding how valuable people living with disabilities can be.

"It just makes sense. This is not a charity. These are jobs at competitive wages," said Smith. "Having diversity and inclusion in the workforce is valued by SRP."

Anne Kirchgessner is a project manager and oversees The Precisionists program at SRP. Right now, this is a one-year pilot program, but is looking to expand and hire more people like Polesky in the future.

"Adulthood provides many challenges for individuals with needs and the system isn't really out there to figure out how to help them yet. So I think this is really groundbreaking because we've sort of at least got one piece of that puzzle figured out," she explained.

Kirchgessner said the state of Arizona and Mobile Mini are two other Arizona employers providing opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum.

Companies interested in partnering with The Precisionists or adults living with autism looking for jobs can learn more online.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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