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September 23, 2019

“Born This Way” star Sean McElwee, a 24-year-old man who has Down syndrome, was set to give a keynote speech at a Gigi’s Playhouse Gala when he told his mom Sandra McElwee, “My speech is boring; I need a new speech.” Sean shared his ideas, and as they sat down to re-write the PowerPoint presentation Sean said, “Now we need shirts and hats and bags,” an idea that sparked the creation of his t-shirt company, Seanese.

You can visit his online store at

Pie in the Sky: Motivated David Koning Wears Multiple Hats Despite Heart condition

May 02, 2019

Koning has been working at Blaze Pizza at the Outlets at San Clemente for about two weeks, but he’s held a variety of jobs. His favorite things about working at Blaze Pizza are the free food and the camaraderie that he shares with his coworkers.

“It’s fun working here. I also want to apply over at AT&T, working with phones and internet service,” Koning said.

What’s different about Koning is that he has a heart condition that has caused major health issues for him.

He was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, meaning he doesn’t have a left ventricle. According to Koning’s family, he may be one of two people who is living with the condition in their 30s.

The economic impact of inclusion in the open labour market for persons with disabilities

July 30, 2018

People with disabilities have been eligible for both Mainstream, and Specialist, Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMP) over the years. In Mainstream ALMP terms, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have shown that many counties have made good greater use of “Work-first” approaches to getting unemployed people into to work over the first decade of the 2000s (OECD, 2010). These have involved activation/mutual-obligation strategies, where re-employment services are offered to unemployed people such job search, training or employment programmes, underpinned by the threat of benefit sanctions. Jobsearch assistance has been important during recession as even here jobs are being created by some companies and employment services can help people and companies by fill these vacancies quickly. 

Is vasopressin what's lacking in the brains of those with autism?

May 03, 2018

Outside the brain, vasopressin helps regulate blood pressure and fluid retention. But in the brain, it has long been thought to play a role in social, sexual and nurturing behavior. And because it interacts with male hormones such as testosterone, some scientists suspect it could be implicated in autism, which affects boys at about four times the rate that it does girls.

So researchers from Stanford University, UC San Francisco and UC Davis decided to explore whether vasopressin levels might be a biological marker for autism. In both humans and rhesus monkeys, they found, levels of the hormone in cerebrospinal fluid — generally a clue to its concentration in the brain — were markedly higher in individuals without social deficits than they were in the least social members of both groups.

The growing acceptance of autism in the workplace

February 11, 2018

We like to think that good work is always rewarded. But what if some people who could do good work can't their foot in the door in the first place? That's where recent hiring initiatives that look beyond unfair stereotypes come in, as Lee Cowan reports in our Cover Story:

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley thought he had it all figured out when it came to looking for a job.

He had a detailed spreadsheet of each and every position he applied for -- at least 600.

But despite his degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University, he went two years with barely a nibble.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Employers and Employees Benefit from Workforce Diversity

November 15, 2017

Before Michelle Katagiri-Mena moved to Orange County, most of the people who worked with her had no idea how much she could accomplish if she were simply given an opportunity. Working in a sheltered workshop, she performed piecework that was not challenging for her and earned around 90 cents an hour. Today, the vibrant 23-year-old is employed by CHOC Children's, where she earns $15 an hour and is a valued and respected member of the food services department on the main hospital campus in Orange.

The turning point for Michelle, who has autism, was her participation in the Gillman Project SEARCH internship program at CHOC, which gives young adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to intern in various hospital departments to gain valuable work experience. Her Regional Center of Orange County service coordinator spotted her potential soon after she began receiving services through RCOC and suggested she apply. After the internship, Michelle was hired by CHOC, where she continues to receive RCOC-funded support from a job coach with Integrated Resources Institute.

"In honor of October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we want employers to know more about the benefits of hiring the people we serve," said RCOC's Executive Director Larry Landauer. "Michelle's story illustrates how, with the right coaching, many people with developmental disabilities can work effectively side-by-side with typical employees, and truly enhance the workplace."

Cast of 'Born This Way' Responds to Winning Two Emmys and Making History

September 19, 2017

The Creative Arts Emmys aired Saturday night on FXX, and for fans of “Born This Way,” the award show did not disappoint.
“Born This Way” was nominated for six Emmys and took home two: Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program and Outstanding Cinematography for a Reality Program.

Reality TV's 'Born This Way' featuring Orange County cast members wins Emmy

September 14, 2016

“Born This Way,” the A&E reality television series that includes three Orange County residents in its cast of young adults with Down syndrome, pulled off a minor upset at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sunday, defeating bigger and better-known shows to take home the Emmy for outstanding unstructured reality program.

Amendment of Americans With Disabilities Act Title II and Title III Regulations To Implement ADA Amendments Act of 2008

August 14, 2016

The Department of Justice (Department) is issuing this final rule to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA Amendments Act or the Act), which took effect on January 1, 2009. In response to earlier Supreme Court decisions that significantly narrowed the application of the definition of “disability” under the ADA, Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act to restore the understanding that the definition of “disability” shall be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis.


April 18, 2016

Steven Mesinas, an RCOC consumer who has an intellectual disability, has joined the Board of Directors for a one-year term that began on January 7.


A resident of Tustin, Steven is a proud member of the crew at the Trader Joe’s market where he has worked for the past three years. He also volunteers with Best Buddies, helping others with disabilities. Since helping adult consumers to secure paid employment is such a high priority for RCOC, Steven’s successful experience in the competitive workplace is very valuable. His employer views him as a dedicated and responsible team member.


January 06, 2016

A settlement in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit is set to reshape a state-run employment program for people with disabilities that has been heavily dependent on sheltered workshops.


Under an agreement finalized just before the new year, 1,115 Oregon residents with disabilities who are employed in sheltered workshops will receive jobs in the community that pay at least minimum wage over the next seven years.


An additional 7,000 individuals with disabilities in the state – including 4,900 between the ages of 14 and 24 – will receive employment services so that they will have an opportunity to obtain traditional jobs.


December 02, 2015

Two of our clients in this series were selected for this A&E TV show and went a little Hollywood on us us - VERY cool! Steven has two jobs: at Albertsons Grocery and LA Angels and aspires to be an actor. Sean is a now a hard working man at Home Depot and enjoys the life of a college student at Saddleback College and also loves the arts : acting, music, and is quite a dancer. Both gents are following their dreams!!! These two young men are great guys with wonderful meani ngful lives and contributing at work and in their communities! We at Integrated Resources Institute (IRI) are blessed to be of service to Steven and Sean! Check out these two great links!

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