Transition Classroom and Employment
Nowadays, one does not have to look far to see news, a blog, a Facebook post, etc., about autism. That is a good thing. I don’t think there can be too much of a push for autism awareness. The vast rainbow of functional abilities in individuals with autism is almost beyond comprehension.
About that vast rainbow, yesterday the question was posed to me if there needs to be a transition class specifically for students on the autism spectrum. Then, if there was such a class, would it work successfully to have students that are anywhere on the spectrum?
Today, my thoughts on the matter are this. Yes, there needs to be a transition class specifically for autistic students. Autism is so unique, and within autism, individuals are so unique. Their communication and social learning needs related to transition are different and quite challenging, and especially important if working on job training in the community. Autistic students should NOT be funneled into a one-size-fits-all transition classroom. My example of a one-size-fits-all classroom would include any students with Learning Disorders, students in the Mild to Moderate and sometimes almost Severe Intellectually Impaired category, students with Behavior Disorders, and students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because of her uniqueness, Jess spent many years in and out of one-size-fits-all classrooms. I am not a fan. During Transition, very specific things need to be addressed for these young adults with ASD.
A Guide to Employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is a wonderful pdf from autismspeaks.org. The guide includes expanded information of the topics listed below. Based on my experience, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of addressing all of these things, and addressing them EARLY!
– Practical Advice: How You Can Help Your Adult Child Find and Keep Employment
– Working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services
– Supported Employment
– Skill Development at Home and at School
– Job Development
– Other Areas to Think About in Guiding Your Child Towards Employment
– What Are Centers For Independent Living?
The Employer’s Guide to Hiring and Retaining Employees with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is another helpful document that can be used to educate employers in the community and encourage them to hire individuals with ASD. It includes statistics and information such as:
According to MarketResearch.com
– 54 million Americans with disabilities represent the third largest market segment in the United States, behind the Baby Boomers and the mature market.
According to a National Survey of Consumer Attitudes
– 92% of Americans view companies hiring people with disabilities more favorably than those that do not.
– 87% would prefer to give their business to companies who hire disabled people.
– 5% would be willing to switch to a brand associated with a good cause if price and quality were relatively equal.
U.S. Census Reports That People with Disabilities and Their Network Represent
– $1 trillion, including $220 billion in discretionary income,
– Have the most buying power of any traditionally underrepresented group.
– Surveys of employers who use the Job Accommodation Network show
– 50% of all accommodations, if needed at all, cost less than $50 88% cost less than $1,000.
The second part of the original question posed to me was would it work successfully to include students that fall anywhere on the autism spectrum? It almost pains me to say my gut reaction to this question is no, the class would be more effective by not including the entire spectrum. Why? The Georgia Department of Education describes Transition as, “The movement from school to post school environments. It should include the skills necessary for the student to be successful in education, employment, and independent living after completion of high school.” So my overly simplified answer is this. If a student is not expected to be capable in education, employment, nor independent living, then those students probably do not need a “transition” class in the sense of the definition I provided. If there is a question of potential, then by all means I believe those students deserve and should be in the class. My “no” is referring to more severe cases where long-term outlook is more obvious. For those students, transition planning is extremely important, but needs to be even more parent/caregiver oriented.
In our case, almost 6 years later, we are still working on things. I 100% believed that at graduation she would have employment. We almost did, then there was an inconveniently timed hiring freeze. We are still working on independent living skills, and to be honest, I have not completely given up on future employment yet. One day, something will come along that will be perfect.
Next: Lobbying for Education
If you are new to Autism After School, Jess is an autistic and visually impaired young adult. I am telling our story to help other parents and professionals learn from our journey. My hope is to help others better prepare for experiences within the educational system and the transition to adulthood.