Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.
Confucian philosopher, Xun Kuang, 310-235 BCE
Evidence proves that people with autism learn best through immersive experiences. That is why Yes She Can created an authentic business, Girl AGain boutique, where trainees participate in all aspects of operating a resale store. The venue has been serving as the site for our job skills development program. As of March 2020, the job skills program is operating remotely.
Why American Girl dolls? There is a great demand for previously owned American Girl brand dolls at lower prices than new ones, and also there is a large supply of used dolls that owners would like to donate to a good cause. Preparing the used merchandise for resale, marketing it and selling it all require the use of skills that are applicable in almost any job in the competitive workforce.
It just so happens that American Girl is a passion of Isabelle, who inspired her mother, Marjorie Madfis, to create Yes She Can. Of course not every young woman with autism shares Izzie’s passion and expertise in American Girl. We understand that. But what they all share is the need to develop job skills in a safe yet authentic business environment, particularly the “soft skills” necessary to become employable.
The resale business model advantage: There are many and varied business tasks that provide learning opportunities: sorting through donated clothes to create complete doll outfits; pricing products competitively by researching and comparing prices on eBay; cleaning dolls with accuracy; price tagging the merchandise; taking photos for marketing; posting content on digital platforms; managing and tracking inventory, book keeping, organizing and hosting customer events; and more.
Incubator and laboratory: At Girl AGain we nurture young women at work without the pressure of a for-profit business. We are applying the most effective training techniques that conventional employers as well as autism employment entrepreneurs can use as they begin to hire people on the autism spectrum.
Our participants develop relationships with each other, and support each other to accomplish their goals.
Professional coaching: Lesli Cattan, LCSW, is Director of Training Programs, and leads a team of extraordinary professionals who work with trainees one-to-one and in small groups at the store focusing on social skills and behavior regulation. Marjorie Madfis, MBA, provides coaching in business processes and workplace behavior.
We are always seeking job coaches. Learn how you can be a coach here.
Trainee target audience:
- Teen girls ages 17-21 (school age) with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) under IDEA who are in the transition phase of public education and are working towards a high school graduation credential, including the CDOS certificate.
- Young adult women (ages 18 – 28) with autism spectrum disorders or similar challenges who have recently transitioned into adult services such as vocational rehabilitation services and Medicaid funded services and wish to pursue employment.
- College women with ASD and related social and learning challenges (currently enrolled or recently graduated) and need hands-on job coaching and support to develop necessary skills for employment. A diploma is often not enough.
Training approach: While we directly teach the tasks necessary to operate the retail store, we focus on the business processes and the behaviors that are fundamental to effective work – and that are most challenging for people on the spectrum. These include
- arriving at the job on time and ready to work
- understanding the priorities of the manager
- collaborating with peers
- asking for help
- taking responsibility
- communicating appropriately
- accepting feedback
- regulating emotional behavior
- learning the “hidden curriculum”
Learn more and apply