Parents of autistic students about to graduate high school face several daunting questions. Will they get into a college of their choice? What career path is best suited for them? Will they land a job? How can we help them prepare for the road ahead?
While the answers to all these questions largely depend upon the severity of the symptoms, here’s a list of things that parents can do to ensure a smooth school-college-work transition:
- Start planning early
Just like neurotypical teenagers, autistic teenagers are also trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. Early planning will allow them time and space to discover their capabilities at their own pace by pursuing various interests. It will also enable them to develop the skills required to build a career in the real world. The entire process can be a bit of a trial and error and hence chalking out a rough plan right from the beginning can help immensely.
- Start small and slow
While trying to help autistic students achieve their career goals, it is important to be patient with them. If they are not ready for full-time employment from the get-go, it is okay to slowly build their endurance. Start with a part-time work commitment, few days a week and gradually increase the working hours until they’re comfortable working full-time.
- Job coaches
A job coach is a person that helps individuals with disabilities reach their true potential at work by working on their job-specific as well as interpersonal skills. Seeking the advice of a job coach is doubly beneficial for young autistic persons. In addition to helping them get a suitable job, a job coach can also provide requisite onsite support and guidance needed by them to thrive at the workplace. This role can also be played by a trusted elder, a teacher, a counsellor, or anybody who can mentor the child.
- Soft skills training
To be able to function in a typical work or college environment, autistic students need a lot more than a simple set of procedures. They must also learn and practice a variety of soft skills to help them fit in. It is, therefore, important for parents and caregivers to focus on teaching them certain social and life skills to build the right foundation.
- Work experience
Gathering real work experience can help them build an impressive resume as well as a college application. But more importantly, it will also afford them a chance to develop coping mechanisms for when they are away from familiar territory. Parents can help their kids achieve this with volunteer work and internships that provide on the job training.
- Parental involvement
At every stage, the involvement of parents is extremely crucial for the children. The constant support and positive reinforcement can work wonders for their self-confidence. It also keeps the parents in the loop of everything that their children are undertaking – right from school to vocational training, internships and beyond, giving them a clear idea about what their children are good at.
Coming to terms with the fact that their children might soon leave the nest and learn to fly independently can be overwhelming for parents, especially so for parents with autistic children. However, focusing on a few target areas from an early stage can make the transition easy for both, parents, and children alike.
Leave a Reply