Preparing for the Real World of Work

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Preparing for the Real World of Work
Chantal Sicile-Kira
‘Work is more than just a livelihood or paycheck; it is the key to a satisfying and productive life. For many on the autism spectrum, it is the glue that keeps our lives together in an otherwise frustrating and sometimes confusing world. Certainly, my life would not be worth living if I did not have intellectually satisfying work.’
- Temple Grandin, Developing Talents
The Reality

Unemployment rates for working-age adults with disabilities have hovered at 70% for the past 12 years. (2002 Report from the
President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education)
Most adults on the Autism Spectrum are either unemployed or underemployed.  Many, if given proper opportunities and training, have skills and abilities that would be valuable in appropriate work settings.

Our Mission as Educators and Parents

To prepare those on the autism spectrum for the world of work
To educate the world of work about the autism spectrum

To change the status quo and dare to think ‘outside the box’

What Will Be Discussed
Employer needs and the different types of employment structures

How to know which job/career will be a good match, and the role of mentors


The Business Plan: Developing the work or career skills the individual needs to get and keep a job/career Transition Strategies: coping and accommodating How this relates to the IEP and ITP
Overview of Employer Needs
Employer Needs Top 10 Skills and Attributes 2003
Job Outlook 2003, US Natl. Assoc. of Colleges and Employers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Dept of Labor
Honesty / Integrity Strong work ethic Analytical skills Teamwork (works well with others)
Computer skills Time management / Organizational skills Communication (oral and written) Flexibility Interpersonal skills (relates well to others) Motivation / Initiative
Overview of Different Types
Of Employment Structures
The Different Employment Structures
Full-time employment 30 hours or more a week Part-time employment Less than 30 hours a week Permanent employment No specific termination date Short-term employment Temporary with a specific end date
Seasonal jobs Fishing, construction, theme parks Self-employment / Micro-enterprise Contract basis, rely on own skills and initiative, more flexibility
Self-Employment Micro-enterprise
May be an option for some. Consider:
•If person has no particular talent, analyze service needs in the community and what matches with that person’s interest •Requires others to do part of job person cannot (they become a business expense and consultant/employee, not an ‘aide’) •Those who have particular talents, but can’t do the 9-5 in a regular work environment my find this employment structure a good match
Examples of actual businesses:

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Lizz’s Food for Thought Dusty’s Puppets Dorothy to the Rescue Crush Aluminum Cans, Not the Environment

"Lizz's Food for Thought," a coffee and food delivery service for staff meetings and trainings. For each delivery, Lizz earns an average of $10 (for 45minutes of work) plus she captures an additional 10% of the food costs associated with each delivery.

Dusty's Puppets recently ventured into the realm of marketing through a local Farmer's Market. In her first experience she was billed as an "entertainer." This means she is in for free, and works for tips only - no selling! In a little over two hours, she took in $35 and much admiration, praise and interest in future work (birthday parties, etc.) and the absolute delight of many wee tots and their moms.

Dorothy to the Rescue is a business of first aid kits. Dorothy supplies first aid kits for business or personal use. She can even customize personal kits, depending on the client’s needs.

Justin Johnson was looking for a business to help the environment, so he formed his own: Johnson Recycling. With a motto of "Crush Aluminum Cans Not Our Environment," Justin built a business that allowed people to recycle, it also earns him a great income!
In Development
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Coffee Cart Internet Selling Jeremy’s Stems
Lessons Learned in School
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Profit and Loss Cost of doing business:  Goods  Supplies  Transportation  Hired Help Marketing and location important Fair price to customer
Lessons Learned in School
Economics and Jeremy’s rose selling business: What he concluded:  The less you sell the less you make.  You must take in more than you spend.  The number of buyers is related to the amount they are willing to spend.  Money plays an important part in everyone's life.
Which Employment Structure Best Suits the Individual ?
Does the person need a full-time job or part time work? Does the person like to work the same specific hours in the same place every day? Does the person like moving around or staying in one place? Does the person like variety and change, or structure and repetition?
Does the person like mostly working on his own or with others? Does the person like projects with clear-cut beginning, middle and end? Does the person need supervision? Does the person have extreme sensory processing challenges?
How to Know Which Job or Career
Will Be a Good Match
Listen to the teenager’s hopes and dreams Pay attention to the teenager’s likes and dislikes Focus on the teen’s interests and talents Be cognizant of the teen’s strengths and challenges Be cognizant of the environmental and sensory needs of the teenager

Look at the supply and demand in the workplace and in the marketplace Figure out which service needs in the community are not being met Find out what skills and abilities are needed for particular jobs / careers Analyze the teen’s thinking style:
(visual thinker, music/math brain, non-visual thinker)
Different Jobs for Different People
(as per Temple Grandin)

Visual thinkers: computer programming, commercial art, drafting, equipment design, small appliance and lawnmower repair, video game design and building trade.

Non-visual thinkers (good at maths, music or facts): reference librarian, inventory control, accounting, taxi driver, computer programming, copyeditor, tuning pianos and other musical instruments, clerk and filing jobs and statistician. Non-verbal or poor verbal skills: reshelving books, copy shop, factory assembly jobs, restocking shelves, janitor jobs, cleaning and cooking in a fast-food restaurant, watering plants in large office buildings, data entry, and sorting at a recycling plant
Tips from Temple Grandin
Make gradual transitions from school to work during high school (ie pet store for student who wants to be a vet)  Seek out supportive employers who need the individual’s talent to stay open  Find mentors and get magazines from industry related to student’s interest  Develop skills other people will need and value  Keep chosen career in area of talent  Focus on selling the talent, not the personality

Consider freelance work  Make a portfolio showcasing talent and skills  Make a web page to showcase capabilities  Use business mentality not a social work mentality  Get help with financial records and the official record keeping  Learn to manage temper, anxieties, and learn social skills  Educate employers and colleagues

The Use of Mentors
and Building on Strengths
Building on Strengths

Use special interests of the student to teach academic topics (ie construction vehicles) Investigate ways special interest or talent can lead to an employable skill Social skills may be lacking, but a special talent can be a bridge to relationships with other people
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Mentors can help a student realize the application of their interests Mentors can help teachers and parents realize the possibilities for the student (ie engineering field is vast) Mentors can help student feel valued and be good role models Mentors can help with social aspects of job (ie proper attire, how not to talk to the boss)
Mentors can converse about mutual interest Mentors can show them different work environments Practice or teach skills Show them the reality of doing a particular job Introduce them to others
Who can be a mentor?
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Teacher Neighbor Retired person Business person Person in the field of interest College student Etc…..
Where do you find mentors?
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School Place of worship Local business associations Trade journals Kiwanis SCORE Etc…
The Business Plan: Developing the Work Skills the Person Needs to Get and Keep A Job, Career or Client
The General Life Skills Needed
Teach what all students of different ability on the spectrum need to learn to be successful in school and in real life: Self- esteem Self advocacy and disclosure Self-regulation - ability to recognize, communicate, regulate: sensory overload & emotional responses
Teach To the Extent Possible
The Generalizing / Problem Solving Skills of: Flexibility Perspective taking and empathy Executive functions Social communication
- Hidden curriculum - Idioms and metaphors - ‘Water cooler’ etiquette
Transition Strategies: Coping and Accommodating
Transition Strategies
(in a nutshell) If you can teach the skill, teach it. If you can’t teach the skill, adapt it. If you can’t adapt it, figure out a way around it. If you can’t find a way around it, teach the neurotypicals to deal with it!
(from Paul Wehman and Peter Gerhardt)
Very Important
Look at specific skills and abilities needed for particular jobs / careers Can these skills and abilities be taught or accommodated for?
Very Important
Analyze the sensory challenges and environmental needs of the teenager Can coping strategies be developed or can they be accommodated for?
The Work Environment
Are the bosses/colleagues open to changing some of the parts of job description that may be a problem? Can the physical environment be adapted to the person’s needs ? Is the person able to self-regulate? Is the person able / willing to self-advocate?
If any of these areas are too difficult/ too much trouble, you may wish to think about selfemployment.
The Business Plan to the student’s successful career is the ITP and the IEP: the skills needed should be broken down into goals and objectives and accommodations the teenager needs should be included.
“The responsibility to help current and future generations of children with autism and Asperger Syndrome develop their strengths in order to lead meaningful lives in our society belongs to all of us. That includes people on or near the spectrum, family members, teachers and anyone who comes in contact with people with autism and Asperger Syndrome.”
Stephen Shore, Beyond the Wall
Chantal’s Books
Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Parent’s Guide to the Cognitive, Social, Physical, and Transition Needs of Teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Penguin)  Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorders and other ASDs (Penguin), ASA 2005 Outstanding Book of the Year

New Book
Autism Life Skills
From Communication and Safety to SelfEsteem and More —
10 Essential Abilities Your Child
on the Spectrum Needs and Deserves to Learn (Penguin, October 2008)
Contact Information
Autism Making a Difference, Inc.
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‘The Real World of Autism’ On some Tuesdays On Autism One Radio