The ultimate goal for every student in education is to help him or her become a contributing, independent, and successful member of their community; to become someone who is responsible, independent, and can make informed choices. Perhaps, we as educators and parents need to ask ourselves what skills students with autism should be developing during the early years in order to be successful in employment and daily living skills later on.
With this in mind, parents, and school staff can begin to put together a longitudinal plan for the child they are educating and supporting. School is the place for each student to learn the tools he or she will need to become an adult. There should be a balance between the academic, social, communication, and “life” skills that are necessary for each student’s future success.
Some students have a tremendous amount of restrictions as to where they can work, and on what jobs are appropriate for them based on the skills that the person possesses by age 18. For example, people who have poor money skills would never be considered for a job as a cashier. Additionally, those who are not strong readers may find themselves restricted from professions at libraries, certain warehouses, offices, and banks.
This article suggests some skills that should be developed early that are of paramount importance to employment and daily living later on. People often don’t think about these skills in relation to careers, future employment, and independent living. However, parents and educators should realize the necessity of these skills for future success. It is of extreme importance that people have an interest in the area that they work. However, it can be discouraging to a student to discover that he/she doesn’t have the skills to allow them to work in their area of interest. Therefore, interest is not enough.
For students to have success in various job opportunities, there are skills that can be taught and enhanced throughout the school years. They are not skills that magically appear in high school, but are skills that are entrenched in education annually. It takes a different way of thinking to begin to see the functionality of some skills that are taught during the early years of school. It is important for students, parents, and educators to see the acquisition of every skill as creating another employment opportunity. Begin to see skills in terms of a lifetime of opportunities instead of skills for one academic year.
The following skills have been utilized by students on jobs. These types of skills can be introduced at the elementary level and naturally progress through the school years. These are not exceptional skills to teach, but are skills that benefit everyone. For some students on the autism spectrum, learning one or more of these skills can help him or her in a variety of areas for the rest of his/her life.