Many people on the autism spectrum need a family member or a job coach to help facilitate successful employment.
By Janice Killey
Entering the workforce can be an exciting, yet challenging time for anyone who hasn’t done it before. However, when you’ve been diagnosed with autism it can be even more challenging to transition into a productive and accepting job. If you or someone you know is looking to enter the workforce, then this article will give you the top tips on how to help transition an autistic loved one into the workplace with confidence. Let’s get started.
1. Build A Reliable Support System
It’s important to foster a reliable support system which can help to alleviate any rejection, anxiety, or alienation from the job interview or new job. While most job interviews are standard, sometimes the rejection may be difficult to one’s self-esteem. This is why it’s important to have a support team in place. Some people you could seek out to for support can include, but aren’t limited to:
• Family members
• School personnel
• Members of organizations who are dedicated to autism
• Mental health counselors
• Career counselors
• Online autism groups
• Autistic mentors
It’s a good idea to write on paper the circle of support. It is important to let others know that they are part of the support system and to invite them to “brain storming” meetings. Being a support person is a volunteer position. Most times you’ll find people will be more than happy to help. Having clear directions about how to support your loved one can help the support person be more helpful.
2. Research Autism and Help Build Confidence
Although there are many people diagnosed with autism, not everyone understands what it means to be autistic and each person has their own unique set of skills and challenges. It is important to be knowledgable about your loved one’s challenges to facilitate an easier transition into the workplace. Often accommodations in the work force may be necessary. Improving your loved one’s confidence and self esteem can be achieved by:
• Helping them to learn and master new skills.
• Exposing them to successful autistic role models.
• Giving empowering praise and constructive criticism when necessary.
• Reflecting on their personal value and benefits they bring to the workforce.
• Encouraging them to persist and follow through with assigned tasks.
• Encouraging independence and self-empowerment.
• Listening to their concerns and facilitating accommodations.
Building confidence isn’t something that happens overnight, however by showing what they can bring to the workforce and focusing on their skills, you can help to improve their confidence level. Working with an employer to create an accommodating work environment is important.
3. Start Slow
When encouraging someone on the autism spectrum to apply for a job it’s a good idea to encourage them to start slow to help build their confidence with interviews. Help them search for jobs where they can use their abilities to their employer’s best advantage. If they’re really nervous about landing their first job, it may be best to facilitate volunteer work experience first to see how the flow actually works in a job that they think they may like. Sometimes, the job may not be what they thought it is. For example, the smell of fried food at a fast food place may cause them to become distracted or overwhelmed.
When gaining work experience, don’t forget:
• To be upfront with the company and tell them about your autism and your particular needs. This will help the company understand if you don’t react the same as others in the workforce. It will help the employer to address accommodations. It will help the company to watch out for any employee bullying which needs to be addressed.
• To help encourage work experience in an industry your loved one likes or wants to work in. This will help to make the transition process easier if and when they apply for actual jobs.
• To facilitate training and other self-development studies which can help to improve their skills in the industry they want to work in.
• To role-play interviews to familiarize them with the interview process. The more they learn about the process, the easier it will become for them to transition better into the job hunting phase.
Volunteer work experience will help build a resume and a feeling of self-worth. Starting slow is important to help make the transition to the work force easier. Raising confidence and familiarity with what to expect will help the process of job hunting become easier.
4. Instill Pride in Accomplishments
Entering the workforce for anyone means they will learn new skills and learn how to be the best at what they do. This is no different for someone with autism. It’s important to help your loved one to learn how to have pride in their work when entering a new environment. Help them to:
• Learn how to manage time and stress to the best of their ability with coping mechanisms such a regular, scheduled breaks or asking permission for a break when feeling overwhelmed.
• Create a visual of the workflow so they know what to expect.
• Work on one skill at a time so they are not overwhelmed.
• Talk about what they are bringing to the job so they understand their contribution.
• Ask questions about how their day went. Talk to them about their concerns and help them develop creative strategies to solve problems.
• Have regular brainstorming meetings with your circle of support.
• If one job doesn’t work out, try another.
When it comes to helping transition someone who has autism into the workforce, there so many different things you can do to help them build their confidence. By taking these tips into consideration, you can easily help to improve their chances of success. Did these Psychologists Southern Sydney tips help you?
Janice has a wealth of experience and training. She holds a Diploma of Education, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Master of Arts (Counselling), Diploma of Clinical Hypnotherapy (ASH) and is a Registered Psychologist at Psychologists Southern Sydney. She’s also a member of the Australian Psychological Society.