In my 20 plus years of experience I have found that every student is different and every employer is different. This question cannot be answered in one broad answer, we are all very different. In this blog entry, I will give an example of what has worked in my position as an Autism Specialist, Job Developer and Advocate.
Billy is 16 years old and has been in a secluded classroom for 12 years. In this self-contained classroom, he is very quiet and does not feel he is like anyone else. In the cafeteria or during breaks he is made fun of and bullied due to his awkward gait, thick glasses and because he tends to keep his head down. He has very little self-esteem or self – confidence. He does not share this with anyone because he does not want to bring any undue attention to himself. Both of his parents work 40 hours a week and allow their son to come home and play video games in his room every evening. He is also allowed to eat his meals in his room each night.
Now Billy is 18. His parents would like for him to move out, get his own apartment and get a JOB.
Parents must understand that no matter how intelligent your son or daughter is if he or she does not get exposure and experience at an early age the barriers to the real world of work will take longer to overcome.
Now that Billy is 18 they are searching for resources, making phone calls and calling everyone in the Special Education department for assistance in meeting these goals.
The parents never really attended Billy’s ARD meetings together and only listened on the phone due to their work schedules. Billy was assigned a placement specialist to assist with and solve with what we call barriers to employment. The student is lost, confused and scared. He has been enabled in the contained classroom for many years and was able to isolate in his room and play video games with no chores or expectations.
Placement Specialist must first:
- Establish a trusting rapport with student.
- Engage with the student and go out in the community to see what volunteer or work sites are near his home.
- Obtain transferrable skills that would assist with accountability and self-confidence. Learn what is socially appropriate and inappropriate.
Note that the time frame to overcome all barriers is different for each of your children.
Your ideal timeline and the reality of how long this process will take depends on the severity of barriers we must overcome to obtain gainful employment. It is our job as parents to not enable our child and to be involved in this process. To be successful in the real world of work these skills must be taught and reiterated at home before they become barriers. Parents must understand that no matter how intelligent your son or daughter is if he or she does not get exposure and experience at an early age the barriers to the real world of work will take longer to overcome.
by Raeme Bosquez-Greer/Job Adventures
Transferable Skills: Skills developed in one situation which can be transferred to another situation. They are sometimes called generic, soft or key skills
Accountability: The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
Southwind Fields Program Director