Our Young Adult Support Program is Expanding: Meet Nina Hermes


First launched in 2015, Ometz developed the Young Adult Support Program (YASP) for 18-30 year olds living with high functioning autism spectrum disorder or mild intellectual challenges often coupled with mental health issues. While many of these young adults identify as wanting to be independent and find work, they are lacking basic life skills. Without these skills, living independently, finding and maintaining employment present major challenges. Enter Nina Hermes, a new hire here at Ometz, who is helping this growing group of clientele reach their full potential.

Q: Your unique role bridges two services here at Ometz: Supported Employment and Mental Health. Tell us more about how you are helping clients from both areas of service.

A: Working jointly within these two departments allows me to work intensively and comprehensively with clients in a unique and adaptable way. The beauty of having so many different areas under my umbrella of service is that I’m always adapting and meeting clients where they’re at. For example, I started working with one of my clients on concrete tools to manage his anger in a healthy way (we did this for about a month), then we worked on his CV and concrete job skills. Once he obtained employment, we moved on to learning tools for managing negative thought patterns.

Q: Can you give us a picture of the clients you work with?

A: The clients I work with are between 18 and 35 years old living with high functioning autism spectrum disorder or mild intellectual challenges, often coupled with mental health issues. Their goals can vary, but whether their primary goal is attending school, finding employment, or moving out, they all center on becoming more autonomous.

A challenge universal to my clientele is the impact of stigma. It’s disheartening to see how many employers still hold misconceptions/stigma about hiring inclusively, and hold onto fears surrounding people with disabilities. There’s a big misconception that people with disabilities are a hiring “risk” for an employer, when in fact there are massive benefits on both ends (for the employer: high retention rate, improved business image, etc.).

Q: Your position marks an expansion for this YASP program. Does this point to a growing need for our services?

A: Essentially, the agency realized that there were a high proportion of young adult clients who had life skills and social goals that fit the criteria for YASP, but who were also being followed by an employment worker in another department. By blending these two positions into one, the client only needs to see one worker, and no longer has to try to separate work challenges and life skills/social challenges between two workers, as these can often overlap.

I do see an increased need. I think that maybe as conversations about inclusivity are becoming more and more prominent, it’s opening up more possibilities for this population. People are perhaps starting to realize that there are other options for young adults with intellectual challenges and autism rather than just staying at home.

Q: Tell us about a typical day for you. Or is there a typical day?

A: There’s no typical day for me, which is something I love about this position. My morning could start off editing a client’s cover letter and advocating to an employer on their behalf, with my afternoon spent doing a home visit with a client to work on cooking and cleaning strategies. I love the variety, and I think that my being able to be flexible in this role only benefits clients. Employment and life goals are very tied in together, especially for this clientele, and being able to support them comprehensively in their journey towards autonomy is truly making a difference.

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