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Preparing For Work

Preparing For Work

Preparing For Work

Your autistic teen or with traits of autism

How to turn interests into careers for those with autism

Posted on March 21, 2018 by SDCAadmin

For people with autism and their families, transitioning from school to a career can be challenging. You may feel uncertain about which careers will be a good fit or wonder how to turn interests into income.

Several practical tips help people with autism find a career that utilizes their interests, talents, and skills.

Discover Your Child’s Interests

Spend time with your teen, and you will discover the activities and topics that interest her. She may love to draw, ride horses, program computers or talk nonstop about certain topics. Those interests have captured her attention and focus and can be a powerful vehicle for pursuing employment opportunities in the future.

If your child is less vocal about his interests, or likes a variety of different things equally, answer the following questions. They will help you determine what type of career he may enjoy.

  • What activities does your child gravitate toward?
  • At what skills or subjects does your child excel?
  • How does your child prefer to spend his time?
  • What motivates your child to do her best?
  • What excites your child?
  • What types of situations make your child feel anxious?
  • How successful is your child at self-regulating?
  • What sensory challenges does your child experience?
  • How well does your child multitask?
  • How does your child handle distractions?
  • Is your child organized?
  • How developed are your child’s social skills?
  • Does your child prefer to do one thing all day or switch tasks?
  • Does your child operate better alone or around other people?

Transition Interests into Marketable Skills

After you identify your child’s interests, look for ways your child can make money while practicing those interests. If he enjoys playing video games, introduce him to programming or graphic design. Likewise, your child could pursue a career in finance if he’s a detailed person or stock shelves if he likes to organize things.

Find and Consult a Mentor

A teacher, relative, neighbour, or professional with real-world experience can help your child identify her interests and discover ways she can make money while doing what she loves. A mentor can also supervise training opportunities or provide a mock or real job, which allows your child to experience her career options firsthand.

Find a mentor at school, through your caseworker or via the community. With help from a mentor, your child can identify potential career paths and understand the steps she needs to take to pursue advanced education or other training that prepares her for a successful future.

Consider Non-Traditional Employment Opportunities

In addition to the traditional full-time job, your child with autism may thrive in a non-traditional work environment. He could choose to work different seasonal jobs throughout the year or start his own business.

Freelancing, part-time work, and job sharing are other options. In each case, your child can put his interests to work and match his sensory, social and other needs.

People with autism possess a vast array of talents, skills, and interests that can transform into a successful career. As parents, you can use these tips to help your children discover and hone their talents and assist them in choosing a career that fits their abilities.

Work Experience

Work experience describes a few days or weeks during which you gain some practical experience in an industry that interests you.

What you’ll do will vary depending on the workplace and industry. Generally, it’ll involve light work without too much responsibility. It’ll give you a taste of what a career in the role would look like.

Choosing work experience that relates directly to your interests is a great place to start, but you shouldn’t rule out the idea of trying more unusual jobs if you’re tempted.

You and your teenager can organise work experience by yourself.  Use people you know either friends or contacts to give your teenager their first tastes of work experience.  Focus on their interests and hobbies such as a vet, animal rescue or in a shop, community library or café which can be good first options.  It can help your teen to decide what they do and don’t want to do in the future.  It may also help them to decide what they study at college.

You and your teen need to decide what information you disclose to the people having them for work experience, but in general it is good to be open about your teens strengths and areas of difficulty.  Also mention if they will need movement breaks.  Your teen may find themselves “masking” around these new people which can be exhausting.

Work experience for young people on SEN support


Work experience with Cornwall Council


Work experience is a government scheme offered to school students in Year 10 or above. The student has a placement at an employer’s premises. They carry out particular tasks or duties, more or less as would an employee. The emphasis is on the learning aspects of the experience.

In Cornwall we have given priority to employability as the key to young people living a healthy, happy life. There is lots of research evidence that demonstrates the importance of work. It gives a sense of purpose and the chance to make friends, get out of the house and socialise. Of course, the chance to get some money and independence are important too.

There are different supported routes to employment. These are

  • apprenticeships
  • traineeships
  • supported internships.


Supported internships

As stated in the ‘Post-16 skills plan’, we want all young people with an EHC plan to undertake a supported internship unless there is a good reason for them not to.

Supported internships are one of the most effective routes to employment for young people with EHC plans. They are a structured study programme, based primarily at an employer. They help young people get paid jobs by giving them the skills they need for work.

Supported internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of 6 months. Where possible, young people will move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme and are supported by an expert job coach where needed.



Supporting young people who have not found a job

19- to 25-year-olds who make a benefit claim will be invited to meet a work coach at the Jobcentre. For those claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA), this will be as soon as possible. For those claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and presenting a fit note, this will be within 4 to 6 weeks of their claim. At the Jobcentre, the work coach will discuss the young person’s needs and any barriers to work. They’ll then agree a plan of action (a ‘claimants’ commitment’) detailing their plans to find work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers specialist employment programmes to support people into work. These include the Work Programme, Work Choice and the Specialist Employment Service. Work coaches will also signpost claimants to other local options. An Access to Work grant provides support to those with a disability or health condition who need help to work. Those with a longer term disability or health condition will have a Work Capability Assessment.

Funding for those with no EHC plan

Eligibility to receive public funding through the Education and Skills Funding Agency is the same for all eligible learners regardless of disability.

For students aged 19 and above who don’t have an EHC plan, learner support funding may be available to help them meet:

  • the additional needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities
  • the costs of reasonable adjustments as set out in the Equality Act 2010

This support can cover a range of needs including:

  • funding to pay for specialist equipment and helpers
  • arranging note takers
  • particular help in lectures and seminars
  • special arrangements for exams

In all instances learners should contact their provider to confirm they’re eligible for funding, and to check that the qualification or course they wish to study is funded by the ESFA.

For students aged 19 to 25 without EHC plans, further education (FE) providers receive money from the ESFA to meet the costs of reasonable adjustments. Under the Equality Act 2010, FE providers must make reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled students being placed at a ‘substantial disadvantage’.

All aspects of studying are covered including:

  • course admissions
  • the provision of education
  • access to any benefit, facility or service, for example flexible courses
  • exclusions

Private education and training providers also have duties under part 3 of the Children and Families Act as service providers.


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