1. 6 Volunteering and Employment


1.1. Developing Job Skills 1

Developing Job-Readiness Skills in Youth with ASD through Volunteering: Getting Started

(Part 1 of a 2 part series)

By Laurie Pearce 

Like many other parents of a youth with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), I find thoughts of the future can be positively paralyzing. To overcome that paralysis, I decided to focus on helping my son prepare for some form of work when he leaves school. The focus is not on career development, but simply to increase the options that will be available for him to make a meaningful life for himself once he leaves school. This article provides some suggestions for other parents with similar goals, suggestions that I believe can be applied to individuals wherever they might be on the spectrum.

The First Job is in the Home

You don’t have to look far to find a way to develop job skills in your child or youth: just take a look around your home. Household chores are not just a way to share the workload of family life; they’re an invaluable way to help your child develop useful skills and a sense of responsibility.

Even the simplest household chore develops core skills. For example, emptying the dishwasher means your child must learn the appropriate storage location for each item, how to sort items by type (such as keeping all the spoons together), and how to handle items that are fragile vs. those that are sturdy. Good old fashioned hand-washing of the dishes is even better, since it requires things like running water at an appropriate temperature, applying the right amount of pressure for cleaning, and working in collaboration with others (for example, the person drying the dishes).

 

  • Choose chores that are repeated frequently (cleaning or putting away dishes, sweeping floors, taking out garbage or recycling, etc.) rather than done more rarely (cleaning out the basement, raking leaves, washing windows). This ensures the opportunity for lots of practice.
  • Choose chores that can be done relatively quickly to sustain interest and ensure success.
  • Choose chores that are clear-cut and visually obvious. Whether a floor is clean or not might differ based on your standards of cleanliness, but whether a dishwasher is empty or not is beyond argument. This allows your child to recognize when the work is done without being told.
  • Avoid chores that have to be done within a short timeframe, require handling delicate objects, or must be done in a very precise way. These chores will add stress for both your child, who may struggle to meet the demands of the task, and you, who may find it difficult to be patient and to resist the urge to do the chore for the child (or re-do it when they are done).
  • Build the chores into the child’s schedule.
  • Ideally, choose chores that have some built-in motivator for the child. For example, they might be more interested in putting their videos in order than in putting away the groceries, or they might more happily find the snack aisle than the vegetable aisle in the grocery store.
  • Put in place whatever supports are needed to teach your child how to do the chore and meet with early success. This might mean backward chaining (e.g. requiring the child to put away the silverware, which is the last step of the chore), adding visual supports (e.g. labelling cupboard doors to indicate their contents), or reducing the workload (e.g. starting with an almost empty dishwasher). Choose a good time to teach the chore (e.g. not half an hour before the grandparents are arriving for dinner or ten minutes before the school bus comes).
  • Use the same strategies you would use for any new activity: lots of praise and reinforcement, fading prompts, and increasing demands.
  • As your child gets comfortable with doing chores, add more responsibility, either more chores or more responsibility for an existing chore. Add some chores where your child has to identify that the work needs to be done at all (e.g. the garbage can in the kitchen is close to full), so they don’t rely on always being told to start the work.

 

Money: Your New Primary Reinforcer

Paying your child for their household chores and, when they’re ready, for their volunteer work, has many benefits. No math drill, computer math program, or worksheet can teach someone about the value of money better than having cash in the hand, and the opportunity to spend it.

Decide ahead of time how much money you will pay, whether you are paying based on time spent or chore completion (e.g. are you paying per minute of effort spent shredding or for shredding a specific volume of paper) and what constraints you will put on the use of the money. I would suggest you leave the concept of saving until the concept of purchasing, and value-for-money, is more firmly established. At the beginning, allow your child to spend what they earn as they wish and as soon as they wish (this might mean timing chores so there is time available for immediate shopping).

Allowing your child to spend freely works best if they want to acquire relatively small-cost items, and even better if their heart’s desire comes in different sizes and variations. My son’s passion for Coke and Pepsi led him very quickly to recognize that this amount of work meant he could buy a can, but that amount of work meant he could buy a bottle, and this much more work meant he could buy a bottle and candy. It also allowed us to begin introducing comparative costs, checking grocery store flyers and deciding whether he wanted to walk a little further for the cheaper bottle at the dollar store or pay for the convenience of the variety store. Because it was his money, it was his choice: as were the consequences of the occasional regretted purchase.

Once your child understands that work equals money, and that money equals purchasing power, you can introduce more subtle concepts such as saving for larger purchases (we use a scale to show him how close he’s getting to his target, but one of those counting jars could also help). Having a savings goal also helps bring a little control to the purchasing process: a reminder of what the child wants to purchase in a week or a month can help them make a better decision about what to buy right now. Still later you can introduce concepts like saving for someone else (e.g. a birthday gift or a shared meal).

I also found it useful to have a backup chore that always needs to be done (in my case, shredding documents): when my son needed to earn more money immediately for a desired purchase, that backup chore was always a possibility.

Part 2 of this series deals with moving to volunteer work outside the home.

 
 

Keywords: Job-readiness skills, Teaching strategies, Tips for parents, Money skills

 


 
 
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Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.
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1.2. Developing Job Skills 2

Developing Job-Readiness Skills in Youth with ASD Through Volunteering: Moving Into the Community

(Part 2 of a 2 part series)

By Laurie Pearce 

Start Small

Once household chores and money rules have been firmly established, it is time to look outside the home for work (volunteer) opportunities. While you’re seeking out those opportunities, you can try this little strategy I call “guerilla volunteering”.  While in the community, look for small pieces of helpful but casual work your child can do: restoring order to the spice display, making sure all the soup cans face out, ensuring the library’s videos are in alphabetical order. In the very early days you might want to secretly create a small amount of disorder that your child can correct quickly and easily, so the job doesn’t become overwhelming and then gradually have them deal with larger tasks.

Be sure your child’s teacher knows about your child’s growing capabilities. Ask for work-type responsibilities to be given at school, whether that’s taking attendance to the office or setting up/cleaning up for a specific activity.

What to Look for in a Volunteer Opportunity

When looking for more formal volunteering opportunities, look for ones that:

Your child can do (in full or in part): this might mean developing skills beyond those of household chores: see the resource suggestion at the end of this article.

Align with your child’s interests: e.g. would they rather work with food items or hardware items?

Align with your child’s strengths: e.g. are they able to perform fine motor tasks or are they better at ones that require less precision?

Take place in a setting your child can tolerate: e.g. are they able to tolerate noise or prefer quiet environments? Are they more comfortable working outdoors or indoors?

Take place in a setting your child is familiar with. This ensures that a new task isn’t made more complicated by requiring it to be done in an unfamiliar setting. This is particularly important for the first volunteer job.

Require a degree of inter-personal interaction your child is comfortable with: e.g. can they give directions to strangers, are they better face-to-face or on the phone, do they need to communicate non-verbally?

Can provide the accommodations your child needs: e.g. wearing headphones, having labels added to environment, having the workplace organized differently.

Ask your child’s teachers, recreation supervisors, support workers, etc. to suggest types of volunteer work that might suit and engage your child.

Where to Look for a Volunteer Opportunity

Once you have some ideas about what your child would like to do, the hard work really begins: finding a place for them to do it. Start with companies and organizations with which you have a connection, such as:

Local stores or businesses, particularly those that have local ownership or management.

Local services (community newspapers, recreation centers, social service providers).

Any place your family or friends work.

Any place offering services your family or friends use (recreation center, seniors’ center, church, day care, sports club, school, yoga studio, gym). To avoid confusion around roles, avoid places with which your child is currently engaged as a participant.

As with chores, try to choose work that is repeated, rather than a one-time event:  it’s generally better to deliver the community paper every two weeks than to deliver flyers for an annual fundraising event. Also, as with chores, look for work that aligns with your child’s interests and that can be accomplished relatively easily, to increase comfort and confidence.

Decide how your child will be compensated for their work. We pay more for work done outside the home than for chores, and sometimes pair a reward with the location of the work (e.g. a visit to a store or restaurant near to the “work” place).

Charity Village and/or your local volunteer banks often post volunteer positions online. Although these postings may frequently be for jobs beyond your child’s abilities, and often are for one-time events, it’s still worth pursuing them. For example, a volunteer job distributing flyers for a community agency’s annual celebration led to them calling on my son whenever they need flyers distributed for other events. In another case, 90 minutes of volunteer work one Christmas has led to a coop job opportunity that will be supported through my son’s school: an opportunity we would have never found if we hadn’t pursued that first volunteer posting.

Watch for opportunities wherever you go – your instincts will usually tell you when you’ve encountered a suitable environment and, even more importantly, people with the compassion, interest, and attitude to make a job work for your child.

It’s Not Just Your Child Who Needs Training

If possible, have someone other than the parent accompany the child to his or her volunteer work: that will make the separation of work from home clearer. A respite worker is a good option, as is another caregiver, a responsible friend, or even a sibling.

Take the time to educate whomever your child will be working with about ASD in general, your child in particular, and the strategies and supports they need. Don’t be afraid to ask for what needs to be adjusted, and set expectations appropriately: it is better that the “employer” be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. Watch out for the well-meaning supervisor who takes pity on your child and steps in to take over the work or accepts minimal performance: that attitude will not be helpful for your child in the long run.

Check Out These Excellent Resources

The books “Tasks Galore” and “Tasks Galore at Work” are visual, creative guides to setting up in-home training that can help develop and practice job skills (e.g. assembling, filing, and sorting). See http://www.tasksgalore.com/ for details or these volumes might be available from your school or local service provider.

 

Laurie Pearce

 

Keywords: Job-readiness skills, Volunteering, Tips for parents

 
 
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Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.
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1.3. Case Study: Establishing Work Opportunities for Someone with ASD
By Penny Gill
 

My son is not one of the “stars” amongst adults with autism. His computer skills are fine, but not extraordinary. He has no special scientific aptitude. His math skills meet the needs of daily life, not the demands of technical or commercial endeavors. Yet he is happily engaged in a variety of jobs – some volunteer, others remunerative – that give structure to his life week after week. Because of them, he is a contributing, well-known, and accepted adult in our community.

How did this happen? Some pieces of the puzzle fell into place by luck, others by design. His story may give readers who are trying to establish satisfying lives for adolescents and adults on the spectrum some ideas they can use or adapt.

It may seem off-topic to mention that I prefer shopping in smaller venues. I did not realize that my preference would ultimately help my son get work, but it did just that. I buy all my books from a couple of independent booksellers. When it occurred to me that my son’s interest in keeping his own books in good order might translate into working in a bookstore, it was much easier to broach this idea with the owner of the small bookstore where I was known as a faithful customer, a “regular”, than it would have been to approach an anonymous manager in the branch of a large chain.

My son now works in the secondhand book portion of the store, keeping the stock alphabetized by author within each section. Secondhand bookstores are an excellent venue for people on the spectrum who like keeping things in order. It’s not just that these stores often badly need their collections organized, it is also that they tend to be quiet and not overly crowded, making them user-friendly settings for people on the spectrum.

My son began the job as a volunteer, but ultimately became a paid part-time employee. Some people dismiss volunteer work at a commercial entity as exploitation. I am not of that view. Many potential employers are reluctant to hire someone on the spectrum without seeing how things work out first. Firing someone is an employer’s biggest headache and most of them will have genuine uncertainty about whether or not hiring someone with autism will end in dismissal. Given the common media portrayal of those on the spectrum, this is hardly surprising.

If you recognize this fact and incorporate it into how you approach employers, you will accomplish more. My standard method is to suggest that they give things a try to see how they work out. I explicitly assure them that if the arrangement does not unfold to their satisfaction, there will be no hard feelings: we won’t pressure them to continue with a situation that is not satisfactory to them. This assurance is often enough to lead employers to try things out.

If things do transpire well, some employers will initiate a hiring – as happened in my son’s secondhand bookstore job. If that doesn’t occur, you may want to ask the employer to consider turning the position into a remunerative one. Some will agree, others will not. Faced with a refusal, individual circumstances – both of the employer and of the person on the spectrum – will figure in your decision whether or not to have the individual with autism stay on as a volunteer. Will walking away from the activity make for a day with nothing for the person to do? Is that preferable to volunteering? If he or she stays in the position, can you build on the experience to find other work? The range of issues to consider will vary from one individual situation to another.

My son began volunteering at our local public library as a shelf-checker through the co-operative work placement program at his high school. The co-op program functioned best when I suggested various work possibilities that might exist in particular settings, and then school personnel approached those settings to start the process for my son.

Correcting errors made by people re-shelving books (whether members of the public or library employees) can be a tedious task, but my son loved the precision and predictability of the job. Going through the books one by one, shelf by shelf, aisle by aisle would be a mind-numbing nightmare of a job for many. Not for him. By addressing this task, he gave librarians and library assistants time to do other work, such as answering patrons’ queries or teaching them how to use the computer terminals or automated check-out – work involving social interaction skills beyond my son’s mastery.

After he had been there a spell, I made a point of thanking the librarian for giving him this opportunity and sharing with her how much he enjoyed the work. He kept that co-op position throughout high school, and when he finished school I went back to the librarian to ask if he could continue doing the work as a volunteer. I was delighted that she accepted. To this day, he visits the local library twice a week to shelf-check – no longer just fiction, but also the large-print collection and the DVDs.

I have never asked that this position be other than voluntary. I am well aware that the library’s budget has been severely cut year after year. It has reduced the number of positions, not increased them. Besides, he not only loves the work, it gives shape to his days there, gives the public a chance to get to know him, and opened the door to an altogether different job that became remunerative.

Right after high school ended, my son began volunteering in a law firm library. That opening came about as many positions for people on the spectrum do – through a good-will ambassador. Our ambassador did not work at that office, but knew lawyers who did, and approached them with the proposal of finding some work for my son. That his resume included volunteering at the public library gave him the entrance he needed. They had library work that needed doing. It was different than the work in the public library, but his experience there gave him the much-needed credibility to land the position.

His job at the law library is to update the “current servers”. Current servers are hard-covered, ringed binders that give the most up-to-date accounts of different legal issues. Law book publishers regularly issue packages of printed sheets to insert in those current servers to keep them up to date. The instructions of which pages are outdated and need to be removed, and where the new sheets are to be inserted are easy to follow.

I describe this job in some detail simply because it is a perfect fit for so many people on the spectrum. Every medium- to large-sized law firm has a library, and every law library has current servers that need to be kept up to date. 

After the bookstore began to pay for my son’s work I decided to ask the law firm to pay as well. They agreed. This is an excellent job – one that needs to be done, is often neglected at law firms because everyone is so busy, and one that others on the spectrum could find satisfying.

Another high school co-op job for my son was at the local grocery store. His first task was to put carts and baskets back in place and to load groceries into customers’ cars. A friend, whose son on the autism spectrum is every bit as capable as mine, not realizing that my son had started doing this work, once said that she would never allow her son to round up shopping carts. However, doing this job was an important stepping-stone to other responsibilities for my son at the grocery store. Once employees there got to know him, he was offered the chance to do shelf-stocking, to remove groceries past the freshness date from the display, to face-up (pulling stock to the front of the shelves), to operate the cardboard crushing machine in the recycling program, to keep produce sections well-stocked, to re-shelve groceries customers abandoned or left in the wrong place, to check prices for cashiers, and on and on. There are a multitude of jobs in grocery stores that many people on the spectrum can perform well. For my son, the starting point was helping out with returning carts to their storage positions, a job he still does.

My friend’s son has had very few jobs over the course of his life, though he clearly has the skill-set for many positions. There may be a lesson in that. Be cautious about looking down your nose at certain jobs. They may suit perfectly the individual you are helping and could well lead to other opportunities.

My son’s very first job was delivering the community newspaper. It was an important start. Hearing that he had an interview for that job first prompted the high school to put him in the co-op program. The paper delivery work increased greatly the number of people in our community who knew my son. He kept the route until shortly after high school. Eight years later the paper telephoned to see if he would consider doing a route again. When I asked him, his response was an unequivocal “Sure!”

The first time back on the route an old customer charged out of her door and down her front walk to greet him. “I thought it was you I saw through my window,” she said smiling. “I’m so glad you’re back! I always thought you were wonderful!” Though he is paid a rather paltry sum for his paper deliveries, clearly the rewards of the job go far beyond the rate of compensation.

A summary of some strategies that guided us in establishing an active, engaged work-life for my son follows:

 

  • Any work experience, no matter how humble, helps to build a resumé and may lead to expanded job opportunities
  • Volunteer work gives structure to the day, allows others to get to know someone on the spectrum, and may ultimately lead to remuneration, either in that job setting or in others
  • Goodwill ambassadors who know people inside an organization can help find work opportunities for persons with autism
  • A faithful patron of a business or other organization may be able to perform the goodwill-ambassador role there
  • Some potential employers, who have fears about hiring someone with autism, may be willing to offer a position, if those fears are acknowledged and addressed
  • An assortment of part-time jobs and volunteer positions can give structure to a week just as effectively as a full-time job
  • Be alert to tasks suitable for someone with autism in every setting you visit, whether that is the bowling alley or the golf club, the movie cinema or the museum, the garage or the zoo, the bakery or the fitness centre, the florist or the pharmacy
  • Enhance co-operative work placement programs by suggesting particular settings and tasks suitable for persons on the spectrum
  • After someone has started to work in a position, whoever is ultimately responsible for this person (whether a parent, guardian or director of a supported-living arrangement) should visit the workplace to express thanks for the opportunity and to share accounts of whatever satisfaction has been gained from the work thus far

 


Keywords: Employment, job skills, volunteering

 
 
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Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.
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1.4. Finding and Keeping Employment

 

This article summarizes some of the information contained in the recent report entitled Diversity in Ontario’s Youth and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex Needs in Unprepared Systems.  

By Claudia Accardi, MSW, RSW & Sarah Duhaime, MSW, RSW, The Redpath Centre

Finding and keeping meaningful employment is often a challenge for youth and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Underemployment is also a concern, as many individuals are employed in positions that require performance significantly below their skills, knowledge, or training. Being employed and self-sufficient financially contributes to improved self-esteem, increased independence and reduces reliance on income support programs.

The research on employment and services in Canada for those living with ASD is sparse. During our recent Ontario study of 480 youth (16+) and adults living with ASD (Stoddart et al., 2013), families and individuals with ASD shared their employment status and their experiences in the workplace. Only 13.9% of the participants 20 years and older relied on full-time employment as their primary source of income, while 6.1% relied on part-time employment. Also, the majority of people (58.2%) depended on Ontario Disability Income Supports (ODSP) as their primary source of income.

In the same study, 30% of those employed were found to be working in “sales and service occupations”. This finding reflects that although individuals with ASD may not naturally have the “soft skills” to interact and function in these types of environments, these service-oriented entry-level positions are often the occupations available. “Business, finance and administration” were reported to be the primary employment fields for 15.1% of the participants.

Other studies have been conducted in the area of ASD and employment, however more research is needed on ASD-specific vocational interventions. Mawhood and Howlin (1999) in the UK studied the outcome of an ASD vocational intervention compared to a control group which did not receive ASD specific employment supports, and concluded that those in the ASD-specific group had higher salaries, worked longer, and reported more satisfaction than the control group.

A further argument on the benefits of ASD-specific vocational programs is derived from Cimera and Burgess (2011) in their review of the monetary benefits/costs of adults with ASD working in their communities in the US. This study concluded that across all states, those individuals participating in vocational programs most frequently were at a monetary benefit when considering programming costs and training.

Whether we are in the role of service providers, parents, or individuals with an ASD, our challenge is not only to increase the numbers of youth and adults with ASD who are employed, but also to ensure that they achieve long-lasting meaningful employment. .

Challenges to Accessing Employment Faced By Youth and Adults With ASD:

 

  •  Preparing for and attending an interview—difficulties managing anxiety, reading social cues, communicating appropriate information
  • Social interactions with colleagues, organizational skills and sensory challenges
  • The work activities required might not be perceived as challenging, rewarding or meaningful
  • Colleagues and bosses’ misunderstanding of the individual’s behaviours and challenges
  • Lack of general awareness of the strengths that an individual with ASD can bring to the workplace
  • Training which does not support the individual’s specific needs related to ASD and other features
  • Difficulty with self-advocacy: sharing information about personal needs and accommodations

 

Recommendations for the Community:

 

  • Increase employment support programs geared to individuals with ASD
  • Increase training for frontline workers in generic employment agencies to better understand the strengths and needs of the ASD population
  • Customize existing employment programs to better support the ASD population
  • Educate employers to understand how to cultivate talents and preferences of those with ASD
  • Improve transitional services at the high-school and post-secondary levels to ensure individuals are prepared to enter the workplace
  • Increase research on vocational interventions specific to those with ASD to better understand and advocate for appropriate services
  • Create opportunities for individuals with ASD who would like to pursue entrepreneurial activities—support with start-up costs, financial and management training, mentorship, etc.
  • Increase employment coaching and support for individuals with ASD who have successfully entered the workforce, but may be struggling in their current position

 

Recommendations for the Individual and Family:

 

  • Enroll in co-operative education opportunities in high school, volunteer in the community, and seek out summer employment to get experience in a variety of settings
  • Enroll in programs that focus on employment, life skills, and social skills to prepare the individual for adult independence
  • Connect the individual living with ASD to family and friends for informational interviews about specific jobs or careers
  • Engage the individual in job-shadowing opportunities
  • Develop strong self-advocacy skills so that personal strengths and needs can be communicated to the employer in an effective manner
  • Begin career planning discussions as early as possible in adolescence to ensure a successful transition to the world of work
  • Identify the individual’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style
  • Make use of psycho-vocational testing and assessment
  • Don’t just look for a job, but for a job that is “the right fit” for the individual
  • When self-employment is viable, evaluate the individual’s talents, whether he/she has a product or service that has the potential to be sold, strengthen the individual’s entrepreneurial skills, and look for small business training and mentoring  

 

 

References:

Cimera, R. E. & Burgess, S. (2011) Do adults with autism benefit monetarily from working in their communities? Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 34 (3), 173-180.

Mawhood, L., &Howlin, P. (1999) The outcome of a supported employment scheme for high-functioning adults with Autism or Asperger Syndrome. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 3 (3), 229–254.

Stoddart, K.P., Burke, L., Muskat, B., Manett, J., Duhaime, S., Accardi, C., Burnham Riosa, P. and Bradley, E. (2013). Diversity in Ontario’s Youth and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex Needs in an Unprepared System. Toronto, ON: The Redpath Centre

About the authors:

Claudia Accardi, MSW is Research Assistant at The Redpath Centre and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Among various research projects, she is currently involved in a project examining the marital relationships in families of children with ASDs. Her interests include program evaluation and research in ASDs, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities.

Sarah Duhaime, MSW is Employment and Life Skills Coach at The Redpath Centre and Family Support Coordinator at Autism Ontario. At The Redpath Centre, she offers direction to individuals in entry-level and mid-career positions who are facing obstacles to finding and maintaining rewarding employment.


 
 
---------------
Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.
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1.5. Transitioning to Employment

Honest, loyal, highly focused, creative, logical, and attentive to detail are some of the common traits associated with people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Would you want to hire someone with these traits?

How about someone who has better attendance and retention rate than their average colleague?

Honest, loyal, highly focused, creative, logical, and attentive to detail are some of the common traits associated with people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Would you want to hire someone with these traits?

How about someone who has better attendance and retention rate than their average colleague?

Your answer is probably yes to these questions; however, 86% of adults with ASD are un-employed or under-employed in Ontario. The majority of adults (58%) rely on Ontario Disability Income Supports as their primary source of income.

Transition planning for those with ASD needs to start sooner to help the move into adulthood!

Students with ASD need more help in the following areas related to employment:

  • Social interactions with colleagues, organizational skills and sensory challenges.
  • Making the work activities adequately challenging, rewarding and/or meaningful.
  • Understanding different roles/careers – people with ASD often struggle to take perspective and envision what someone else’s experiences would be like (This is called Theory of Mind).
  • Preparing for and attending an interview—difficulties managing anxiety, reading social cues, and/or communicating appropriate information is often challenging.
  • Self-advocating - sharing information about personal needs and accommodations.
  • Mental health - ensuring stablility to be workplace ready. Many people with ASD also live with related mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
  • People also struggle due to a lack of general awareness of the strengths and abilities that someone with ASD can bring to the workplace.

 

Ideas for Schools:

  • Enroll students in co-operative education (co-op) opportunities in the community to help them explore their interests.
  • Educate co-op supervisors on cultivating talents and preferences of those with ASD. Ensure that there is a training plan in place that matches the individual’s learning style.
  • Support volunteer roles for people with ASD by actively offering opportunities and helping to ensure the individual is prepared for this role.
  • Make career planning and regular transition meetings mandatory. Students with ASD may require more time to contemplate and understand different career options. Additional meetings will help guide the individual to their career path.
  • Identify the individual’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style through career assessment tools provided in schools across Ontario.
  • Connect with local community transition programs, colleges and employment services.
  • Ensure that the young adult contributes to their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

 

Ideas for the Individual and Family:

  • Participate in chores and regularly structured responsibilities in the home. Allowance or other rewards given for task completion is likely to be motivating.
  • Volunteer in the community, and seek out summer employment to get experience in a variety of settings.
  • Enroll in programs that focus on employment, life skills, and social skills to prepare for adult independence.
  • Connect the individual living with ASD to family and friends he or she can interview to gather information about specific jobs or careers.
  • Engage the person in job-shadowing opportunities.
  • Develop strong self-advocacy skills so that personal strengths and needs can be communicated to the employer in an effective manner.
  • Identify the person’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style.
  • Make use of psycho-vocational testing and assessments.
  • When self-employment is viable, evaluate the individual’s talents, whether he or she has a product or service that has the potential to be sold, strengthen the individual’s entrepreneurial skills, and look for small business training and mentoring.

 

 

Written by: Sarah Duhaime, MSW, RSW – Employment and Life Skills Coach at The Redpath Centre.

The Redpath Centre (in Toronto, Ontario) addresses the social and emotional needs of children, adolescents and adults with Asperger Syndrome and mental health concerns through best practices, cross-sector collaboration, education and research. Our experienced clinicians bring their knowledge of Asperger Syndrome and related conditions to our work. For more information, visit: www.redpathcentre.ca.

References:

Accardi, C. & Duhaime, S. (2013) Finding and Keeping Employment. Autism Ontario Knowledge-Base: www.autismontario.com

Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A.M. & Frith, U. (1985). Does the Autistic Child have a “Theory of Mind”? Cognition. 21(1): 37-46.

Stoddart, K.P., Burke, L., Muskat, B., Manett, J., Duhaime, S., Accardi, C., Burnham Riosa, P. and Bradley, E. (2013) Diversity in Ontario’s Youth and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex Needs in an Unprepared System. Toronto, ON: The Redpath Centre

Honest, loyal, highly focused, creative, logical, and attentive to detail are some of the common traits associated with people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Would you want to hire someone with these traits?

How about someone who has better attendance and retention rate than their average colleague?

Your answer is probably yes to these questions; however, 86% of adults with ASD are un-employed or under-employed in Ontario. The majority of adults (58%) rely on Ontario Disability Income Supports as their primary source of income.

Transition planning for those with ASD needs to start sooner to help the move into adulthood!

Students with ASD need more help in the following areas related to employment:

Social interactions with colleagues, organizational skills and sensory challenges.

Making the work activities adequately challenging, rewarding and/or meaningful.

Understanding different roles/careers – people with ASD often struggle to take perspective and envision what someone else’s experiences would be like (This is called Theory of Mind).

Preparing for and attending an interview—difficulties managing anxiety, reading social cues, and/or communicating appropriate information is often challenging.

Self-advocating - sharing information about personal needs and accommodations.

Mental health - ensuring stablility to be workplace ready. Many people with ASD also live with related mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

People also struggle due to a lack of general awareness of the strengths and abilities that someone with ASD can bring to the workplace.

Ideas for Schools:

Enroll students in co-operative education (co-op) opportunities in the community to help them explore their interests.

Educate co-op supervisors on cultivating talents and preferences of those with ASD. Ensure that there is a training plan in place that matches the individual’s learning style.

Support volunteer roles for people with ASD by actively offering opportunities and helping to ensure the individual is prepared for this role.

Make career planning and regular transition meetings mandatory. Students with ASD may require more time to contemplate and understand different career options. Additional meetings will help guide the individual to their career path.

Identify the individual’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style through career assessment tools provided in schools across Ontario.

Connect with local community transition programs, colleges and employment services.

Ensure that the young adult contributes to their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Ideas for the Individual and Family:

Participate in chores and regularly structured responsibilities in the home. Allowance or other rewards given for task completion is likely to be motivating.

Volunteer in the community, and seek out summer employment to get experience in a variety of settings.

Enroll in programs that focus on employment, life skills, and social skills to prepare for adult independence.

Connect the individual living with ASD to family and friends he or she can interview to gather information about specific jobs or careers.

Engage the person in job-shadowing opportunities.

Develop strong self-advocacy skills so that personal strengths and needs can be communicated to the employer in an effective manner.

Identify the person’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style.

Make use of psycho-vocational testing and assessments.

When self-employment is viable, evaluate the individual’s talents, whether he or she has a product or service that has the potential to be sold, strengthen the individual’s entrepreneurial skills, and look for small business training and mentoring.

Written by: Sarah Duhaime, MSW, RSW – Employment and Life Skills Coach at The Redpath Centre.

The Redpath Centre (in Toronto, Ontario) addresses the social and emotional needs of children, adolescents and adults with Asperger Syndrome and mental health concerns through best practices, cross-sector collaboration, education and research. Our experienced clinicians bring their knowledge of Asperger Syndrome and related conditions to our work. For more information, visit: www.redpathcentre.ca

References:

Accardi, C. & Duhaime, S. (2013) Finding and Keeping Employment. Autism Ontario Knowledge-Base: www.autismontario.com

Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A.M. & Frith, U. (1985). Does the Autistic Child have a “Theory of Mind”? Cognition. 21(1): 37-46.

Stoddart, K.P., Burke, L., Muskat, B., Manett, J., Duhaime, S., Accardi, C., Burnham Riosa, P. and Bradley, E. (2013) Diversity in Ontario’s Youth and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex Needs in an Unprepared System. Toronto, ON: The Redpath Centre

Your answer is probably yes to these questions; however,

The majority of adults (58%) rely on Ontario Disability Income Supports as their primary source of income.

 

Transition planning for those with ASD needs to start sooner to help the move into adulthood!

Students with ASD need more help in the following areas related to employment:

Social interactions with colleagues, organizational skills and sensory challenges.

Making the work activities adequately challenging, rewarding and/or meaningful.

Understanding different roles/careers – people with ASD often struggle to take perspective and envision what someone else’s experiences would be like (This is called Theory of Mind).

Preparing for and attending an interview—difficulties managing anxiety, reading social cues, and/or communicating appropriate information is often challenging.

Self-advocating - sharing information about personal needs and accommodations.

Mental health - ensuring stablility to be workplace ready. Many people with ASD also live with related mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

People also struggle due to a lack of general awareness of the strengths and abilities that someone with ASD can bring to the workplace.

Ideas for Schools:

Enroll students in co-operative education (co-op) opportunities in the community to help them explore their interests.

Educate co-op supervisors on cultivating talents and preferences of those with ASD. Ensure that there is a training plan in place that matches the individual’s learning style.

Support volunteer roles for people with ASD by actively offering opportunities and helping to ensure the individual is prepared for this role.

Make career planning and regular transition meetings mandatory. Students with ASD may require more time to contemplate and understand different career options. Additional meetings will help guide the individual to their career path.

Identify the individual’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style through career assessment tools provided in schools across Ontario.

Connect with local community transition programs, colleges and employment services.

Ensure that the young adult contributes to their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Ideas for the Individual and Family:

Participate in chores and regularly structured responsibilities in the home. Allowance or other rewards given for task completion is likely to be motivating.

Volunteer in the community, and seek out summer employment to get experience in a variety of settings.

Enroll in programs that focus on employment, life skills, and social skills to prepare for adult independence.

Connect the individual living with ASD to family and friends he or she can interview to gather information about specific jobs or careers.

Engage the person in job-shadowing opportunities.

Develop strong self-advocacy skills so that personal strengths and needs can be communicated to the employer in an effective manner.

Identify the person’s strengths, skills, interests, talents and cognitive style.

Make use of psycho-vocational testing and assessments.

When self-employment is viable, evaluate the individual’s talents, whether he or she has a product or service that has the potential to be sold, strengthen the individual’s entrepreneurial skills, and look for small business training and mentoring.

Written by: Sarah Duhaime, MSW, RSW – Employment and Life Skills Coach at The Redpath Centre.

The Redpath Centre (in Toronto, Ontario) addresses the social and emotional needs of children, adolescents and adults with Asperger Syndrome and mental health concerns through best practices, cross-sector collaboration, education and research. Our experienced clinicians bring their knowledge of Asperger Syndrome and related conditions to our work. For more information, visit: www.redpathcentre.ca.

References:

Accardi, C. & Duhaime, S. (2013) Finding and Keeping Employment. Autism Ontario Knowledge-Base: www.autismontario.com

Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A.M. & Frith, U. (1985). Does the Autistic Child have a “Theory of Mind”? Cognition. 21(1): 37-46.

Stoddart, K.P., Burke, L., Muskat, B., Manett, J., Duhaime, S., Accardi, C., Burnham Riosa, P. and Bradley, E. (2013) Diversity in Ontario’s Youth and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Complex Needs in an Unprepared System. Toronto, ON: The Redpath Centre

 
 
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Disclaimer: This document reflects the views of the author. It is Autism Ontario’s intent to inform and educate. Every situation is unique and while we hope this information is useful, it should be used in the context of broader considerations for each person. Please contact Autism Ontario at info@autismontario.com or 416-246-9592 for permission to reproduce this material for any purpose other than personal use. © 2012 Autism Ontario  416.246.9592  www.autismontario.com.
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