Helping Adults with Autism Find Jobs

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you work with adults who have autism, then you know that finding gainful employment can be a real challenge for them. This lesson teaches you some of the things you can do to help adults with autism find jobs.

Autism and the Workforce

As a teacher who works with young adults with autism in a self-contained high school special education classroom, Wendy knows that one of her biggest responsibilities is preparing her students to enter the workforce.

Of course, as Wendy knows, no two students with autism are exactly alike, and their capacity to find and keep jobs successfully will depend a lot on their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Still, Wendy knows there are some basic things she can do as a teacher to ensure that her students have the best chance possible of finding jobs that suit their needs and enable them to develop their confidence, independence, and self-efficacy.

Resume Development and Knowing Your Strengths

First of all, Wendy devotes time in class to helping her students write resumes and statements about themselves. On their resumes, she helps them focus on their educational achievements and skills.

If students have participated in any extra training programs, volunteer situations, or peer mentorship programs, she helps them include this on their resumes.

Wendy also knows that it is crucial for her students to show that they understand themselves and their strengths. Whether this is reflected on their resumes or elsewhere in their applications, Wendy makes sure each student can name some of their own strengths as well as one or two areas where they struggle.

Wendy encourages her students to be honest and open about their autism when developing their documentation for job applications. This will be appreciated by many prospective employers and might save her students from discomfort later on in the process.

Interview Strategies

The job interview is often the most challenging part of the application process for students with autism, since this involves more interpersonal interaction and is more challenging to anticipate.

To help prepare her students for job interviews, Wendy uses the following strategies:

  • She brings in a few employers to talk with her students about what kinds of questions they usually ask prospective employees.
  • She uses social stories and scripts to give her students specific examples of language they would be wise to use in an interview, including answers to frequently asked questions.
  • She role plays interviews with them and videotapes them, and then watches them with students as a way of teaching body language and facial expressions.
  • She has her students watch other videos of job interviews and discuss what they noticed.

Wendy also works with families to ensure that her students dress appropriately and use good hygiene on the day of their interviews.

Talking with Employers

Wendy knows she will be better able to help her students find jobs if she has a sense of what employers in her community are looking for. She takes the time to survey local employers about their expectations, and she focuses specifically on finding employers whose needs match her students' strengths.

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