On Thursday, September 26, GAP in Westfield hosted Career day in partnership with Autism Speaks, providing teens and young adults with autism a unique opportunity to shadow a GAP employee. The GAP in Westfield is among 11 stores participating in GAP Career Day, which helps spotlight the growing need for businesses to offer more training and employment opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Teens from local schools were assigned to shadow and assist GAP team members as they greeted customers, worked the register and restocked supplies. Local staff from Autism Speaks, Children’s Specialized Hospital, the Newmark School and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School participated in the Career Day. “The general manager of GAP in Westfield could not have been a more gracious host”, says Dina Schwab of Autism Speaks. “He and his team led a well-orchestrated rotational training, which they seamlessly incorporated into their work day. Students learned roles, responsibilities and behaviors at each station – and they had fun doing it! The experience was beneficial for everyone, including customers.”

GAP is among a handful of employers who recognize the growing need for more training and employment opportunities for individuals with autism. "It is so important for individuals with autism and their families to get out in their communities and develop connections with local proprietors,” says Adrienne Robertiello of Children’s Specialized Hospital. “Of course these interactions build social skills and relationships and offer an environment for inclusion.  But these interactions also help open doors for meaningful employment – something that is mutually beneficial for people with autism as well as our communities. "

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Help ‘Close the GAP on Autism.’ In addition, participating GAP stores in the Northeast and Southeast will run an in-store awareness campaign where customers can make monetary donations at the register with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks. In appreciation for their contribution, each customer will receive a coupon for 25% off during a future visit. Awareness tables will be stationed in stores with materials that include general facts and information about autism. 

Contact: Dina Schwab, Executive Director, Autism Speaks, NJ
609-228-7315 ~

About Autism
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.AutismSpeaks.org.

About GAP
Gap is a global apparel and accessories brand focused on delivering casual American style. The brand offers classic, iconic clothing that helps customers express their individuality through its Gap, GapKids, babyGap, GapMaternity, and GapBody collections. With an optimistic point of view and belief that everyone can make their creative mark in the world, Gap embodies what it means to be bright. Founded in San Francisco in 1969 by Donald G. Fisher and Doris F. Fisher, the brand has grown from one store to over 1,600 company-operated and franchise retail locations around the world. Gap is the namesake brand for leading global specialty retailer Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS)which includes Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com

About Children’s Specialized Hospital

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the preeminent provider of rehabilitation services for children with special needs. The hospital serves children affected by brain injury, spinal cord injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses. Children’s Specialized Hospital has ten sites in New Jersey and treats 20,000 children each year, making it the largest pediatric rehabilitation system of its kind in the nation. Services include outpatient services, acute rehabilitation, and long-term care through its sites in Bayonne, Clifton, Egg Harbor Township, Mountainside, Toms River, Fanwood, Hamilton, Newark, New Brunswick and Roselle Park as well as outreach programs in many communities.  Children's Specialized Hospital is an affiliate member of the Robert Wood Johnson Health System and a proud member of the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation supports the programs and services of the hospital. The Foundation is ranked among the top six pediatric hospital foundations in the country. www.childrens-specialized.org