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Strengths Assessment/Special Abilities

The core of the JoyDew philosophy and approach is to identify and develop the strengths of the autistic adult, as opposed to modifying their subjectively perceived “limitations”. JoyDew considers a strength to be more than what you are successful at, or have already achieved, but also aspects of your personality and abilities that can become strengths within a certain setting.

Strength Types

Untapped abilities can be discovered by looking within larger areas of functioning such as: visual, auditory, movement/physical tasks. Clues are found in the individual’s social interactions, passions, or hobbies. Some positive traits can be observed directly; a learner has a talent for math, a great memory, or loves drawing. Other traits are less obvious but can be used to build future strengths. A strength can even be one small piece of a topic, subject, or skill. Behavioral habits (perhaps in making lists, identifying written errors, reacting to sounds, repeating tasks) can also predict useful strengths.

To capture the information about these gifts, we group them based on a slight modification of Dr. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences:

Member Strength

Separate strengths are then combined to create a skill set that matches a vocational task. Other skills associated with strengths can improve over time with targeted training. More

The Strength Assessment Tool:

When JoyDew originally sought an accurate and accepted measurement tool for its stakeholders, we soon found that none of the existing tools could accurately assess the strengths of the autistic population, of which many members are nonverbal and have motor planning deficits, high sensory sensitivity, and, most importantly, insufficient academic training.

Finding the right tool was essential for JoyDew to achieve its mission, so we developed its own, which assesses an expansive range of strengths and comprehensions with the whole spectrum of adults with autism in mind. As with all intelligence measurement tools, the organization’s tool is set up to achieve certain goals while addressing the different individual barriers.

Member Perspectives

“My abilities include great memory and cool character impersonations… …The jobs that would allow me to use my strength would be voiceovers and acting… I would also use my memory if I end up with a job that involves data analysis because I would identify points in data in just a few seconds.”

– Jake (4/6/2022)

Member Strength

The JoyDew Strengths Assessment Tool was informed by Prof. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence framework. This framework has been developed with the notion that different individuals will have innate intelligence or strength in different content areas. Currently, JoyDew members are especially strong in the areas of Picture/Visual and Word/Language, although this is constantly changing as new members join.

The Strengths Assessment Process:

The first Strengths Assessment round is given to every JoyDew member when they join the program. By completing the Strengths Identification Inventory Questionnaire, the candidate and their parents, teachers, and others who know them help produce a sample of that individual’s own unique qualities and learning style. This is later supplemented by the JoyDew staff based on their initial interactions with the member to build a personalized abilities database.

Once the questionnaires have been received, interviews take place with the learners/members and teachers, or other involved professionals to gain valuable, first-person input. A multi-disciplinary team reviews the material and analyzes the data identifying the unique abilities and potential strengths of each learner. Finally, a Strengths Identification Inventory Report is created. The Strengths Assessment Process is done twice annually in the first two years, and once every year thereafter.