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Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models
for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Effective Program: Triumph Services, Inc. Print E-mail

Triumph Services, Inc.

Mission Statement

Mission: Triumph exists to provide community-based support to individuals with developmental disabilities who are trying to live independently.

Vision: Triumph envisions a day when individuals with developmental disabilities are valued as essential members of society and accorded the same dignity and respect as other individuals who are not perceived to have disabilities. The painting to the right entitled, Celebrating Individuality by Liz Landgren, embodies Triumph's vision. Landgren was a guest presenter at a monthly Triumph Support Group and went home inspired to paint this picture with elements representing the unique personalities of many of the individuals participating in the group.

Celebrating Individuality by Liz Landgren. A painting inspired by participants of Triumph's services

Contact Information

Triumph Services, Inc.
1025 23rd Street South
Suite 300
Birmingham, AL 35205
Brooke Stephens, Executive Director
Phone: 205-581-1000

Organizational Profile

Triumph Services, Inc. was founded on August 1, 2007 to offer a holistic approach to services for adults with developmental disabilities who had the goal to live independently. Seventy-six percent of the individuals Triumph supports have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Many programs targeted to support adults with developmental disabilities are funded through the Medicaid Waiver in Alabama. The individuals Triumph supports do not qualify for services offered through state agencies or the Medicaid Waiver, because their disabilities are not considered “severe” enough. Nonetheless, this is a group who has great potential, and who desperately needs support. Currently, Triumph has assisted more than 200 individuals in their efforts to live and work independently.

Services are centered on three aspects of existence- living, working, and playing. Triumph offers life coaching (live), supported employment (work), and social activity coordination (play). In addition to these three main services, Triumph also offers individual, couples, and group therapy to address anxiety and depression. Triumph staff and therapists work together to provide a multidisciplinary team, also called a Support Team, dedicated to assisting each individual in meeting his/her goals. By providing these services, Triumph gives individuals with disabilities the supports they need to live independently, an option that is both more inclusive and cost effective than a more restrictive residential placement.

What people are saying about Triumph:

Photo of James, program participant, receiving award

Photo of James, program participant, receiving the
2011 Personal Achievement Award

"We currently employ two clients of Triumph Services, Inc. and couldn't be happier with this partnership!" Linda Andrews, Executive Director, Hoover Public Library

"Triumph Services is making a positive impact on the lives of many individuals in the Birmingham area. They are also impacting their larger community and will serve as a model for other Supported Employment providers across the state. I cannot say enough good things about this program."
Holly Brigman, M. Ed, CRC, Coordinator of Program Research and Evaluation, Auburn University Center for Disability Research and Service

"Triumph Services means so much to so many individuals and families in our community for the work they do. The services they provide have made a huge impact on my son and so many others."
Parent of a program participant

"Triumph has been really good to me. They've helped me learn so many things that I didn't learn before. Best of all, Triumph helped me get a job."
Program participant

Program Design

Triumph's employment program has an overall job retention rate of 92.3%. This retention rate is based on three key actions: Triumph spends a great deal of time getting to know each person prior to finding a job match; Triumph involves Life Coaches, Therapists, and other important individuals in the job development; and Triumph continues to support the person indefinitely throughout the life of the job. Below are the typical steps for a person involved in the employment program.

1. Discovery Process
Triumph begins the employment process by exploring each individual's life and gaining information from all support persons identified. This discovery process is used to create a profile in order to best match a person with employment, identify barriers, and create ideal outcomes. In addition to the employment specialists, the therapist plays an important role in this process in assisting the individual in identifying underlying emotional barriers that may hinder successful employment.

As part of the discovery process, we also observe the individual in a variety of work settings based on his/her interests and strengths. The discovery process is finalized by a vocational profile and the development of a list of potential employers.

Photo of Hil and Brett, a married couple receiving services at Triump

Photo of Hil and Brett, a married couple receiving services at Triumph

2. Job Development/Hire
The next step in the program design is job development, which consists of identifying potential employers (ongoing after discovery); setting up meetings and interviews; assistance in completing job applications; interview practice, role play and interview preparation; resume preparation; assistance during interview, orientation, drug-testing, or any necessary pre-work tasks. The life coach and therapist are crucial in this step as the individual learns how to manage appointments, attend to personal hygiene, secure transportation, and address any anxiety surrounding job development. An individual securing competitive employment and working for at least three days measures the completion of job development.

3. Job Coaching/Retention
The third step in the program design is job coaching and retention, which includes on-site job coaching; assistance in learning the job tasks and duties; praise and constructive feedback; employer education; completing necessary paperwork and assisting individual with work schedule; and developing relationships with peers. Triumph's employment specialists, life coaches, and therapists understand that the majority of job support for a person with ASD is NOT in work duties, but in the social skills necessary to maintain employment. The completion of job coaching occurs when a person is able to work independently at a job site.

4. Closure/ Long-term support
The final step in the program design is closure/long-term support. The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Triumph's largest referral source for employment services, closes a person's case after 90 days of competitive paid work after job coaching has faded. However, Triumph continues to provide long-term support indefinitely, which includes supporting the individual with biweekly phone calls to the employer/employee and quarterly in-person employer feedback meetings.

Program Effectiveness

  • 66 clients with ASD were served in Triumph's employment program in 2011.
  • 64% of clients with ASD secured competitive employment in 2011.
  • Clients receive wages between $7.50-$19.23 per hour.
  • Triumph staff provided 924 hours of job support to clients with ASD in 2011.

What makes Triumph work?

"When a person begins services with Triumph, he/she enters into a partnership based on dignity and respect. It is this philosophy that guides everything we do at Triumph. We see each person as a complex individual who has a vision and dreams for their lives. Triumph builds a support team around each person to help make these dreams a reality.

We understand that success is not built upon failure, it is built upon success. Because of this understanding, we support each person in experiencing success – in any way possible – in all areas of life. This success may be as small as learning to greet a new friend. Or this success could be as great as beginning a long-term career. When an individual begins experiencing success, sometimes for the first time in their lives, that individual gains the confidence and motivation to move forward in other areas as well. Triumph's support team is here to partner with each person in this journey." Brooke Stephens, Executive Director

Success Stories

Meet Ellen: Ellen and her mom approached Triumph in 2009 to assist Ellen in becoming more independent. Ellen was a 23 year-old woman who lived with her mother and grandmother and rarely left her home due to her difficulty in social situations. During this initial visit, Ellen was immobilized by fear. This fear made it difficult for Ellen to climb the steps in the office (Ellen does not have mobility challenges) and to sit on the sofa (Ellen wanted to sit in her mother's lap). Ellen is on the autism spectrum and also has a diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome. When Ellen “ticked,” she would immediately say, "I'm sorry, I have Tourette's Syndrome. Does that bother you?"

Ellen's mom reported that Ellen spent most of her time coloring and completing word search activities. The only work history Ellen experienced was through her high school vocational program and included one-on-one job coaching. Ellen aspired to work in the medical field, in an office setting, or with children. It was obvious from the first meeting that Ellen was a bright young woman with a great deal of potential.

Triumph began life coaching services to help Ellen become more independent in the home and to address social skills. Ellen also began seeing a therapist through Triumph, who addressed Ellen's anxiety and helped her learn to express her feelings. After three months of life coaching and therapy, Triumph's employment team secured a position for her in the Animal Nutrition Center at the Birmingham Zoo. Though working with animals was not an initial goal of Ellen's, she was excited about the opportunity. Ellen excelled at this position. Her confidence grew, which decreased her tics at work and eventually in all settings. Ellen continued in this position for seven months. However, the zoo had a strict policy, which prohibited Ellen from working without a job coach. One of Ellen's greatest goals was to find a position where she could work independently. Triumph's employment team began searching for a new position where Ellen could learn to work without a job coach. We approached the Alabama Justice Ministries for a clerical position for Ellen. This nonprofit organization embraced Ellen and partnered with Triumph's Job Coach to carve out a position for her. With intense job coaching and the development of a social story Ellen was able to learn her job tasks, understand what to do during breaks, and improve her social skills in the work environment. Ellen is working independently!

Ellen continues to see her life coach on a weekly basis and checks in with her therapist as needed. Triumph also checks on Ellen at work on a monthly basis. We are honored to partner with Ellen on her journey of success.

See a Day at Work with Ellen:

Costs of Program

Triumph's employment program is funded at 54% by the Alabama Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, 6% Consumer-paid fees, and 40% federal grants/contracts.


Job Title

Total Number

Percent Time

Key Tasks

Executive Director



  • Promotes the organization in the community

Director of Clinical Services



  • Employment Coordinator

Employment Coordinator



  • Carries a caseload of participants
  • Supervises the employment staff
Life Coach/ Coordinator 1 45%
  • Supervises life coaching staff
  • Explores job possibilities with participant and team

Life Coach



  • Provides support for participants in all areas of daily functioning such as hygiene, medication management, time management and healthy eating that in turn supports successful employment
Therapist 3 50%
  • Processes issues that arise in therapy concerning employment

Office Administrator



  • General administrative support
Photo Aryn, participant, at work

Photo Aryn, program participant, at work

Necessary for Successful Replication

Triumph's holistic model of services can be replicated by a team of professionals who embrace Triumph's philosophy of empowering the individual in a community based setting. This team must be trained to address all of a person's needs including emotional needs, independent living skills, social skills, and employment. In addition, the team must be prepared to meet each person where he/she is and individualize services based on each person's goals and skill set.

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