As a parent, assisting your adolescent through the transition into the workforce can be difficult due to competition and availability. Finding a first job is even more challenging for people with disabilities. This is compounded by the reality that individuals with disabilities are still working at significantly lower rates than non-disabled people, making employment readiness and involvement in our youth even more critical.
Fortunately, the transition to independence and community inclusion can be supported by sufficient support by family, community resources, and academic institutions. A successful employee must be skillful in self-management and motivation, social interaction, and community engagement. Keep these goals in mind when planning your adolescent’s journey to gainful employment:
As with most people, motivation and intrinsic work ethic will be stronger when your child can work in a position that they love and enjoy. Encourage children to develop abilities of high interest to them from a young age. They may even be able to integrate one or more of their passions into a particular career, improving their chances of success.
Encourage your child to practice ordering at a restaurant, speaking to a grocery store employee when trying to locate an item, or discussing a topic with their doctor. This will look different for everyone, based on their communicative ability. Routinely organize a set of chores or tasks they must regularly complete at home. Role-play and practice essential interview skills, questionnaire answers, and potential social pitfalls. When your child can self-advocate and manage crucial issues in their daily life, they will have the experience to transfer these abilities to the workplace.
Most employers consider volunteer work to be equal to paid work experience. Volunteering is a great way to get your teenager’s feet wet in the working world without the risk while still gaining helpful insight for future positions. Check with your community center, county disability center, or local school district for more assistance finding these opportunities.
Finding the right job can take time. Offer optimistic encouragement, let them choose their path, and help them be their best!
Sandison, R. (2021). 5 Ways to Prepare Your Child with Disabilities for Employment and Life. The Art of Autism. https://the-art-of-autism.com/5-ways-to-prepare-your-child-with-disabilities-for-employment-and-life/.
Soraya, L. (2013). Living independently on the autism spectrum. Adams Media.
Tussman, B. (2020). Tips for Preparing Students with Disabilities for Employment. The Viscardi Center. https://www.viscardicenter.org/tips-for-preparing-students-with-disabilities-for-employment/.