(Note: This is an expanded section of the article, " Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders through Postsecondary Transition", contributed by Anna Merrill.
The main article can be found at: https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/supporting-youth-with-autism-spectrum-disorders-through-postsecondary-transition)
Employment or College?
Contributed by Anna Merrill, Graduate Assistant
In the process of preparing for transition it becomes important to examine what goals match with the abilities and needs of an individual with ASD. There is no one way to determine if college or employment is a better match for any particular student and the same is true for students on the spectrum.
If employment is the goal of a successful transition for a student with ASD, then the first step is to explore the individual’s interests, talents and skills. What would an ideal job environment look like to them? The next step is to formulate a list of realistic career goals. Many youth with ASD may want to be a video game developer or work on the NASA space station, but understanding the skills required to achieve such a job, and the number of jobs that exist, is important. Consider how you can use student’s interests to formulate career goals that match their interests but are realistically attainable. For example, can a student who wants to be a video game developer work in a store where video games are sold? Once the student has identified potential employers they will need guidance through the applying and interviewing process. When considering the questions asked in an interview, an individual with ASD may need coaching on how to answer questions about why they would like to work for their employer or how to describe their individual strengths and weaknesses. This is also an important time to discuss whether or not they would like to disclose their ASD to their employer. Discussing the pros and cons of doing so is important so that the individual can make this important decision.
Resources Regarding Transition to Employment
Bakken, J.P. (2008). Transition planning for students with disabilities: what educators and service providers can do. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Bissonnette, B. (2013). The complete guide to getting a job for people with Asperger’s Syndrome: Find the right career and get hired. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Hughes, C., & Carter, E. W. (2000). The transition handbook: Strategies high school teachers use that work! Baltimore: P.H. Brookes Pub.
Johnson, M. D. (2004). W.A.G.E.S.: Working at gaining employment skills: A job-related social skills curriculum for adolescents. Longmont, CO: Sopris West.
Wehmeyer, M. (2007). Self-determination: instructional and assessment strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
If a student is considering moving on to a college environment there are many important features that will be different from high school. For example, in college:
• Students’ schedules vary and usually have large chunks of unstructured time
• Assignments and exams are significantly more challenging and students are required to seek out help on their own if needed
• Course materials cannot be modified
• Professors are only required to make reasonable accommodations
• Parents have limited to no rights
There is a distinct difference between a student’s education before college and during college. In high school, receiving education is a student’s legal right. In college, you must apply, pay tuition, and pass entrance exams. School districts are also responsible for identifying disabilities, but in college it is the student’s responsibility to self-disclose and provide documentation of their disability. When they arrive on campus they will need to contact the office for students with disabilities to complete paperwork to receive accommodations. Also remember that the first step to choosing college programs to apply is to choose a career goal. Once a career goal has been chosen this can guide choices about the education required to reach that goal. A junior or community college program will cost less money and offer a smaller campus and smaller classes. However, a four-year degree may open the door to more career opportunities upon graduation.
Resources Regarding Transition to College
Brown, J. T. (2012). The parent's guide to college for students on the autism spectrum. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.
Cohen, J. (2006). Guns a' blazing: How parents of children on the autism spectrum and schools can work together--without a shot being fired. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.
Gordon, M., & Keiser, S. (2000). Accommodations in higher education under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A no-nonsense guide for clinicians, educators, administrators, and lawyers. DeWitt, NY: GSI Publications.
Harpur, J., Lawlor, M., & Fitzgerald, M. (2004). Succeeding in college with asperger syndrome: A student guide. New York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Palmer, A. (2006). Realizing the college dream with autism or asperger syndrome: A parent's guide to student success. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Bauminger, N., Shulman, C., & Agam, G. (2003). Peer interaction and loneliness in high-functioning children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(5), 489-507.
Cimera, R.E. & Cowan, R.J. (2009). The costs of services and employment outcomes achieved by adults with autism in the US. Autism, 13 (3), 285 – 302.
Hartley, S. L., & Sikora, D. M. (2009). Which DSM-IV-TR criteria best differentiate high-functioning autism spectrum disorder from ADHD and anxiety disorders in older children? Autism, 13(5), 485-509.
Hendricks, D. (2010). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32, 125 – 134.
Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004).
Rogers, D. (2011). Rising prevalence of autism – What are the implications? [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from: http://www.autismcincy.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Autism-Prevalence-Presentation-08.05.11.pdf
Shore, S. M. (2004). Ask and tell: Self-advocacy and disclosure for people on the autism spectrum. AAPC Publishing.
Smith, F. & Lugas, J. (2010). Vocational rehabilitation (VR) employment outcomes for transition-age youth with autism, and other disabilities. DataNote Series, Data Note XXV. Boston, MA: Institute for Community Inclusion.
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