Home > Topic of the Week > Preparing for Competitive Employment

Preparing for Competitive Employment

In recognition of the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Autism Speaks will focus our topic of the week on the employment of adults with autism.  We ask the Autism Speaks Community to share their experiences with employment in the community. 

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness month, please visit here.

As students prepare to transition out of school, what types of jobs should schools be preparing their student’s for in competitive employment?

  1. October 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Sharon Applegate Long It’s so hard to say. Schools should have a variety of programs based on ablities. They should garner community support so a mix of venues are available. My son is not very verbal, so he has obviously different needs than a young adult who can communicate to an employer.

  2. GThatcher
    October 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

    How does an autistic youth (anywhere on the spectrum) approach his first potential employer? What is the approach like when a teen wants a job at a movie theater, the local sandwich shop, or on a landscaping crew?

    I don’t see it working how most teens would do it, but it also seems odd as a parent to make the introduction and have the “hard conversation” with the potential future boss. Does anyone have experience on how to start the ball rolling. I’m fairly sure that after the job begins, things would/might work out fine, but I’m not sure how to make that first step.

    • Dyann Berndt
      October 11, 2011 at 12:56 am

      I’m in the same boat. My son wants to work at a pizza place…I may have found a good fit through someone I met by presenting a transition workshop at my son’s high school. But if this person doesn’t have a job for him, it seems weird to do the legwork for him with other employers.

  3. October 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    In the community where I live, there is much emphasis on young children with autism, but no real support for teens and adults. When my son with Aspergers got old enough to seek part-time work, he was at a distinct disadvantage when compared with neuro-typical peers seeking the same jobs. Things like eye contact, interviewing skills, filling out job applications– all affected by his condition. Add to that the fact that he is “clueless” about what jobs are appropriate for him– job hunting was very frustrating. How unfortunate this is, since people on the spectrum are perfect for many occupations that neuro-typicals would find tedious at best. His High School was no help at all– the counselor basically told us to go to the Work Force Center and good luck! I finally had to call in a favor, since it became apparent that my son would not get hired on his own. He was (reluctantly) hired as a busboy at a club where my family has a membership. Now his employers all love him, sing his praises constantly. He is punctual, meticulous, polite, and has a terrific work ethic. This job has been wonderful for him, a means of independence and a huge stride toward adulthood. I’m grateful that I was able to make that happen, but often think about those young adults who do not have the connections to do what I did for my son. I wish that there was something I could do to help them, too. Childhood autism is a challenging experience for everyone involved, but people often forget that THESE KIDS GROW UP and they have a place in the world and much to offer it. More programs are needed to help them find employment and guidance toward careers.

    • millie
      October 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      That is a GREAT ARTICLE!!! My daughter Ciara is 17 and has Aspergers Syndrome and I am terrified for her because I know that it will be time for emloyment pretty soon. She is an Artist of Japanese Anime and takes Electronics here in Ohio but I know that my NT daughter had a hard time getting a job so for Ciara who has A.S,. it will be even harder and like your son, she posesses all of thise same loving qualities, EVERYONE who meets her falls in love with her and her Teachers LOVE how meticulous she is and her attention to detail however I know none of those things will get her a job. :( Good for you for stepping in! (we are originally from Port St. Lucie, Fl) :)

  4. Ahmad keichour
    October 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    As a competitive job I would go for example to jobs which can we count the result of it, such as newspaper delivering , how many costemers you can deal with in the fast food restaurants, how many books you can rearrange in a library or bookstore also ……

  5. October 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Hello. : ) I am 17 and have Asperger’s Syndrome. I formally had a job at Bob Evans. Working at a restaurant was rather difficult for me seeing as I also have anxiety disorder. Juggling my jobs that I was supposed to do and jobs I was expected to do were two completely different aspects. When I first worked there I thought the point of working was to only do the jobs that were given to me when I was told to do them. And once I began doing that my employers did not seem very happy with me. So I slowly began realizing that I had to do more for the team instead of just getting by. So I helped others whenever they needed it, no matter if asked or not. But another issue was simply memorizing the menu for carry out. It took me 8 months to feel comfortable with a certain amount of meals. I worked there for 9 months in total. Being a senior and working at a restaurant at the same time were difficult feats. I didn’t get along with most of the co workers and I felt too stressed in the busy environment. I want to work at a book store however they only hire 18+ It’s my dream job, but I guess I’ll have to wait it out.

    • millie
      October 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm

      That is Awesome I hope you get to work in a bookstore or Library like you dream of. Actually I am sure you will! My daughter is 17 with Aspergers. Good luck to you!

      • October 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm

        I’m actually doing my Senior research paper on Asperger’s as well and while picking up some books at the Library to further my research I also picked up an application ;) They hire 16+ Here’s to hoping!!!!! I’m so excited.

  6. Cathy B.
    October 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    When I went to get a job I went to a Navy Recruiter. That was in 1996 and they were pretty desperate to get people into he military. They did not care that I had AS. I made it through boot camp and later Cooks’ School okay. They sent me over to Naples, Italy. Most of my co-workers’ noticed I had some quirks and differences’ about me, but I did my job well. They rarely bothered me much about them as a certain Petty Officer’s substance abuse issues’ drew the attention away from me. I loved that job because I got to spend my every weekend absorbed in my childhood obscession–Ancient Rome!! I must have been to Pompeii and Ercolano dozens’ of times’ as well as other Roman ruins’ around Naples. I even got to see Capua where Spartacus fought as a Gladiator. I’m now out of the service due to a leg injury and tinitus and get disability. Jobs’ are hard to come by now and I have not gotten any civilian job. I do awful at interviews’ because of the AS even though job coaches’ have tried to help me in vain. At least I have the VA to help me out so I am not indigent and have a decent place to live. I wish I still had a job. Oh well.

  7. Anita
    October 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

    My son has been lucky in that his school system has placed him in supported employment for several years – everything from cleaning at the local hospital, packing dental supplies and stocking at the local TJ MAXX. The problem is finding a competitive employment position. He will soon be 21 so we are nearing the “age out” and even with these experiences he is having extreme difficulty with finding anyone to even interview him.
    I still feel the school system is doing all it can in our area. Many other schools should be doing as much.

  8. Kimberly
    October 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I am a special educator who has the responsibility for finding real job training opportunties for our high school students with disabilities. The IEP now includes a very formalized section that deals with transition from high school. Any special educator should have specific goals and objectives in this IEP that addresses work training and/or education. Depending on a student’s understanding of a job and his or her specific abilitiy to develop particular job skills, the IEP would be written appropriately at their level of understanding. For example I have a student with severe autism. Right now her IEP is focused on teaching her what our job training office is and what happens in there. For another student the IEP is written to develop specific skills at a real job site with the intention of actually being hired at the end of his senior year. I work closely with Vocational Rehabilitation also and the local developmental service agencies and together we usually manage to find employment for most of my graduating seniors. Special educators may need to acquire additional trainng and education so that they can help a student obtain employment. A terrific resource for both parents and special educators is National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (nsttac).

  9. Heidi Egan
    November 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I am currently teaching in Mansfield public schools and looking to transition my students into the workplace. I am interested in finding job opportunities for my student.

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