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So, your child is nearly ready to begin a career in the workplace or perhaps he/she is already working and needs a new job. How do you help the child find the right kind of position and the right fit? How can you guide him/her

~By Bill WONG, OTD, OTR/L

Our autistic son is in his mid-teens, and I am always thinking what he will do when he starts to look for a job and also what kinds of skills, he needs to find a decent paying job in his future. It all seems so overwhelming at times, but these are important milestones in life every teen goes through, including our autistic children/adults. It is all part of growing up in this world and getting on with life, even when we are not here with them. So where do we start, when it comes to finding the right fit for a job that they will keep coming back to and not quit on the first day.

Sometimes ASD young adults and/or teens gravitate towards their interests, when it comes to a specific job, while others may need more experiences before they transition to their first job. It is also important to figure out if a part-time or full-time job is needed and what their tolerance level is, in regard to sensory challenges, such as noise levels, food, etc.

Here are a few points to consider when applying for jobs and looking at career options for your ASD young person/adult:

  1. How many hours can your child work? 15? 20? Full-Time?
  2. Is it important to have flexibility in the work schedule? If the answer is yes, then per diem is the best choice. Then as he/she becomes more comfortable and confident in their ability to perform their job duties move up to part-time then full-time. Slow and steady wins the race.
  3. Is health insurance important? Depending on your availability and the number of hours worked, you may/may not receive health insurance, especially if you are on a per diem basis. Most employers will not cover you at all, especially if you are on a per diem basis.
  4. How emotionally mature is your child to hold on to a job? Keep in mind that the amount of hours effect schedules, so if your child is on a full-time/part-time schedule there will be no surprises. But if your child happens to be on a per diem pay scale your hours are not guaranteed and/or structured.
  5. Your child must have a basic idea of how much he/she will be earning. This is helpful for future job applications/positions so that they are aware of the changing career outlook of that specific job description. No one wants to be taken advantage of, especially if you have a disability. So, make sure he/she does their homework and researches the job outlook to ensure a fair wage.

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There are a lot of things to consider and think about when your young ASD child/adult starts looking for a job. But keep in mind that it is more than earning a paycheck when it comes to your ASD child’s job skills and challenges as an individual on the spectrum.