Roim Rachok: Inclusion of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum in the IDF
Service in the Israel Defense Forces is an important rite of passage for Israeli youth and a launch pad for social and professional success. Though young adults on the Autism spectrum are often unable to take advantage of this crucial and transformative experience, Ono Academic College’s innovative program known as “Roim Rachok” (literally “seeing into the distance”) teaches students with high functioning Autism career skills by integrating them into elite IDF units. As volunteer soldiers, the students use their unique abilities of spatial intelligence and visual perception to make valuable contributions to Israel’s most sensitive security operations and ready themselves for an independent life in Israel’s job market.
Roim Rachok program participants have been honored with the IDF Intelligence Award, as torch lighters at the annual National Yom Haazmaut Ceremony, and at AIPAC National Conferences.
CONTRIBUTING TO ISRAELI SECURITY, ENSURING JOB SECURITY
The first program of its kind in Israel, Roim Rachok develops the exceptional visual and analytical capabilities of individuals with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD) that are advantageous to professions reliant on attention to detail and systematic thinking, while providing career training that establishes positive work habits, enhances social abilities, and solidifies communication skills, laying a foundation for self-sufficiency and gainful employment.
Before officially enlisting in the army, program participants undergo a three-month training session in a specially designed facility on the Ono Academic College campus, during which time IDF instructors test their skills and prepare them for the rigors of military service. Once in the IDF, program participants harness their perceptive capabilities and knack for precision and repetition to pour over satellite imagery and serve in highly sensitive quality assurance roles, verifying that the software developed by the military is flawless.
Following a year of IDF service, Roim Rachok students are qualified to secure employment in a variety of exciting fields, including aerial photographic and satellite image interpretation, information processing, and software quality assurance, among many others.
THE PERSONAL TOUCH
During the initial training period and throughout the IDF service, occupational therapists and psychologists from the Ono Academic College Faculty of Health Professions provide ongoing support to both the students and their instructors, commanders and colleagues, who may need guidance in their relationship with the new recruits, ensuring a positive experience for all involved.
Additionally, these professionals teach the students crucial operational and life skills, such as working according to a checklist, using public transportation, asking for help, and self-advocating, enhancing their professionals skill sets and allowing them to become more independent.
Ono Academic College awards generous scholarships to Roim Rachok participants. Ono relies on international partners for program support and matching scholarship grants.