Autism and Employment

Apr 20, 2011
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Parents are the biggest supporters and advocates for their children with autism. They want them to be successful and ultimately find a place in society. Together with educators, parents have created programs and solutions to assist in important academic, social and behavioral goals/achievements for autistic children. One of the long-term goals that parents and teachers are working towards is to prepare children with autism to find employment.

By law, when children reach the age of 14, post-school plans and short-term goals need to be initiated to start preparing the children for job hunting skills. The key to a successful career for a person with autism, like all of us, is a solid foundation of skills. Pre-vocational skills encompass a wide variety of skills and should be introduced at a young age to ensure mastery and application of designated goals. Pre-vocational skills could include basic tasks like sorting, packaging, or assembly, but also include social skills like introducing yourself, interviewing skills and telephone etiquette.

Below are areas to help individuals with autism that will assist them in entering the work force.

Technology
The most important factor for vocational skills is the use of technology. Smartphones and iPads are changing the game for people with disabilities. Not only are both offering new teaching programs and applications, but both have built-in supports that can be used daily. Simple tasks like setting an alarm for your child to remember to go to a meeting or a calculator to increase his or her pace can make a big difference in your child’s work day.

Areas of interest
Job coaches, guidance counselors, social workers, teachers and parents need to reach out to a variety of contacts in the community and strategize ways to create and extend productive and satisfying jobs for people with disabilities. We cannot produce a nation of children with autism who stuff envelopes. They are capable of so much more and they need our help in achieving more.

Social skills
No matter where your child works, he or she is going to need a specific set of social skills. In all places of business, there is etiquette that should be followed. Consider break and lunch times — do people sit together at a table and chat or sit quietly by themselves? Consider staff management — if your child has an issue with a co-worker, what is the proper protocol? General skills that help your child assimilate to his or her work environment include cleaning up after yourself, polite conversation and manners.

Scheduling
Being aware of time concepts will help your child be more productive in the work force. Being able to schedule his own day is a tremendous asset for his personal and professional life. Teachers don’t obsess over schedules just because we like order; it is crucially important for children to understand times of day, sequence of events, and to find independence in following a daily schedule of activities.

Additional Resources:
http://www.autismspeaks.org
http://www.autism.com/ind_choosing_job.asp
http://www.pathfindersforautism.org/articleItem.aspx?id=76

Author: Jenny Carlton



  • http://www.hear-our-voices.org Early Intervention

    Insightful post regarding children with autism. This article may be quite helpful for parents of autistic children. Thank you for sharing this information with your readers.

  • Jaycee

    Glad you found it useful. I think it’s important that the public know that employment IS an option for children with Autism. The key is to prepare them early and think outside of the box.