We would be most interested in employment support for Aspergers employees, such as best practices for placement, behavior management on the job, workplace accommodations, coping skills on the job, how to develop a mentoring relationship with co-workers ...basically how to place and maintain employment.
For an individual with Aspergers (high-functioning autism), finding (and keeping) employment can be a very difficult endeavor. It all depends on how well an individual is prepared for his field of interest. Choosing a career that focuses on an individual's special, or limited, interest will raise the chances of successful employment. Jobs that have a set daily routine are also good options.
Career planning should start early, preferably during the high school years. The high schools years are a time of self-discovery. The young person with Aspergers can begin to prepare for a job in his field of interest by planning to investigate the following options:
- Apprenticeship- Specialized careers can be learned this way. Although, not as common as other options, finding a position as an apprentice will get you intense training in all aspects of a trade or career.
- College- More individuals with Aspergers are attending college than ever before. Some stay home and attend a community college, while others go away to four-year institutions.
- Job training- Some companies will train an individual who is knowledgeable, yet inexperienced.
- Technical school- These local schools offer short courses that yield a certificate, and sometimes a diploma, in certain technical skills. Examples are computer fields and auto mechanics.
Since individuals with Aspergers are usually extremely intelligent, most of the problems lie within the social aspects of employment. Social communication, understanding body language and other unspoken social cues are necessary in the workplace. Time management and organizational skills are also essential.
Several important therapies can help prepare an individual with Aspergers for employment. These therapies should actually be incorporated in the daily schedule while an individual is still young and in school. As skills are learned and practiced, they become more natural. Before seeking employment, the following skills should be practiced:
- Behavioral therapy- This therapy is performed under the guidance of a trained behavioral therapist, and includes anger management and general coping skills.
- Organizational skills- Learning to use visual schedules and lists, calendars, as well as learning time management skills comes about when organizational skills are practiced.
- Social skills- All areas including, personal space, gestures and cues, facial expressions, and social communication, should be practiced. Social skills classes provide directed practice under the watchful eye of a trained therapist.
Once an individual with Aspergers finds employment, he must continue to practice these therapies in order to ensure continued success in his field of interest. Developing a daily routine that incorporates a daily schedule, social skills reminders, and rules to work by will provide the basics for continued employment.
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