New IDF program for autistic-spectrum youths

'Watching the Horizon' expands to the Ordnance Corps. The youths will volunteer in optics and electronics.

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Gil Ronen,

IDF autism-spectrum volunteer program
IDF autism-spectrum volunteer program
IDF Website

The IDF's “Roim Rachok” (“Watching the Horizon”) program, which integrates soldiers on the autism spectrum into the IDF, has expanded to the Ordnance Corps, reported the IDF Blog Saturday evening.

Roim Rachok volunteer IDF Website

The Ordnance Corps is now welcoming its first eight autism spectrum volunteers, as part of Roim Rachok. After testing and interviewing approximately 70 candidates, eight men were chosen to be a part of the program that began in November 2015.

“These men embody extraordinary visual memory and a great desire to learn and work in the best possible way,” the military blog quoted Major Yitzchak, Commander of the Optotronics Unit, as saying.

Autism-spectrum IDF volunteer. IDF Website

"It’s amazing to see the progress in these men,” he added. “They come on the day of their interview, shy, hardly understanding the wires and tools in front of them. Today, they are working just like their peers beside them.”

The volunteers learn social skills along with specialty skills. They attend recreational yoga classes, but also learn how to carry out routine activities like riding a bus. Four of them will be joining an optics unit and four will be in electronics.

Since tasks like fixing wires and molding cord coating are part of the work in almost any electrical field, the IDF hopes to make the volunteers as comfortable as possible in a normal workplace, both in and out of the army.

Autism-spectrum IDF volunteer. IDF Website

On June 30th, the future soldiers will wear their IDF uniforms for the first time. “I just want to be like everyone else,” Omer K, one of the future recruits in the group, told the blog. “I am very excited to put on the uniform.”

Maj. Yitzchak added, “The project creates a beneficial environment for both the volunteers and the IDF. The proteges receive occupations for life and we receive experienced, efficient, and motivated workers.”