Preparing Your Child for the Workplace | Organization for Autism Research

How To

Post-graduation employment success is largely based on the foundation that is built throughout your child’s school years and early adulthood. Integrating employment-related goals early on into your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the first step in helping to set them up for success, but learning essential workplace skills must extend beyond the classroom. Regardless of your child’s age, it is never too early to help them prepare for the workforce.

OAR’s experience with our employment program, Hire Autism, has indicated that younger job seekers often lack a foundational understanding of the job search process, and many often do not possess the essential skills or executive functioning strategies necessary to obtain or sustain employment. We have outlined a few things you can do at school and at home to help position your child for success after graduation.

At School

When working with your child’s middle and high school’s IEP teams, it is important to include your child in most meetings. Though your child might struggle to stay focused for the full duration of the meeting, having them participate, for at least part of the time, will help foster self-determination and self-advocacy skills they will need to succeed in the workplace. During high school, a state vocational rehabilitation representative should also attend some of your child’s IEP meetings because they can often assist the IEP team with identifying mentorship, apprenticeship, or other career-exploration opportunities while your child is still in school.

During the IEP meeting, work with your team to develop IEP goals that relate specifically to future employment opportunities and the steps necessary to get there. For example:

In order to maintain employment after she graduates from high school, Gina will improve her ability to follow through with tasks 90% of the time, to be measured by the following objectives:

  • Independently use a planner to track classwork and projects 90% of the time.
  • Given a multi-step task, Gina will break down the task into discrete activities and due dates for each activity 90% of the time.
  • Gina will set a reminder and check off tasks in the planner when she turns in the work 90% of the time.

(Source: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/qualitysecondaryiepgoals)

At Home

Home is the first “workplace.” Essential workplace skills should be reinforced and taught at home. These ideas can help you help your child to begin building their skills.

  • Create a chore schedule with hard deadlines.
    • If you want to add an extra layer of learning, assigning monetary value to specific tasks can be a way to teach your child how to manage money, and more particularly how to save money.
  • Volunteer in your local community.
    • This is a great way to have your child learn new skills and expose them to new fields/industries. Plus, it is a great resume builder.
  • Practice answering phones/writing emails.
    • Communication, in some form, is likely to be part of your child’s future job.

Even if your child struggles with completing a certain task, it is important to acknowledge their efforts and provide guidance when needed or requested. Though it might be easier or faster for you to do something you’ve asked them to do, resist the urge to swoop in and do it for them. Learning takes time. This is also a key factor in fostering internal motivation, responsibility, and resilience, all of which are needed to successfully navigate the job search and workplace.

For more information on IEP and transition planning, check out OAR’s A Guide for Transition to Adulthood. If you are interested in learning more about how Hire Autism can help your child or would like to discuss ways to grow their workplace skills, please contact Amanda Rioux at arioux@researchautism.org.


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