HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

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Helping Older Aspergers Teens Find Work

Question

How can I get my 19-year-old Aspergers son to stop playing video games long enough to go find a job? I try to tell him that he needs to be working at least part-time at this age – but he’s not interested. (*sigh*)

Answer

Looking for a job is difficult for any teenager new to the job market, especially when high unemployment allows extreme selectivity among job applicants. But with Aspergers, the difficulty level goes up yet another notch. Chances are strong that your child will face this challenge.

How can you make your home a supportive place for job hunting? Here are some ideas:

1. Be a good listener. Let him express his feelings of frustration, anger, and nervousness about seeking employment.

2. Be aware of community resources. Know the applicable civil rights laws. Consider government programs such as vocational rehabilitation and job service. If you know of other parents whose children are job hunting, you may want to form a support group for yourselves and/or your children.

3. Grooming is important. Aspies are often unaware of tears and stains on their clothing, sloppy hair, or dirt on their hands. It helps if someone looks them over before an interview.

4. Help him to organize himself. Many – if not most – Aspies do not know how to look for work. There are many books about job-hunting, each with a slightly different approach. Together, you might decide on a plan of action. Or help might be needed with the fine points of planning and scheduling. You could remind him of necessary follow-up telephone calls or letters.

5. Help with writing if necessary. Aspies tend not to have the best hand-writing skills. It might be helpful if the parent types or handwrites job applications since sloppy handwriting and misspellings tend to disturb employers. If the employer uses online job kiosks (a new barrier for people with reading and writing difficulty), you may have to sit with him and key in the words of the application. Also, help with transportation, if necessary.

6. Insist your child actively look for work. Do not let him spend extensive time playing games, watching TV, reading, etc. If necessary, tell him that looking for work is a full-time job, which he must do in order to earn your financial support. Help him by not overloading him with chores during working hours on the weekdays when employers are in. Help him overcome his failures, but do not accept lack of effort.

7. Use your social network to help your child find work. Talk to your friends, co-workers, and other parents of Aspergers children. Tell them about your child. Stress your child’s positive qualities and describe him as a capable worker. Don’t spend a lot of time describing his disorder. Ask him to follow up any leads that you discover.

8. Social skills are important to job success. Help your child to understand the point of view of co-workers and to adjust to the many hidden rules of the organization.

9. As he looks for employment, emphasize his actions and behavior, rather than the results. If he is actively seeking work, he deserves your respect and praise, even if he does not succeed in finding work. For example, praise your child if he does a good job of describing his qualifications at an interview, even if he is not selected for the opening.

10. Finding a job is only half the battle. Your child will have to work hard in order to keep that job. Be sure your child gets a complete job description and check for problem areas. If your child might have difficulty with any task because of his disorder, he may want to consider trading that task with a co-worker in return for a task that he can do.

Aspies work in every conceivable job – salesperson, optometrist, pilot, doctor, psychologist, computer programmer, janitor, and waiter. Pay attention to your child’s abilities. Teach him to feel pride in his achievements. And support him as he hunts for a job. With your help and your clear belief that your child can succeed, he can “make it.” Good luck!

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Susie Montz Hrenko Maybe he can get a job at Game Stop or some other video game place? My son is only 8, but I'm thinking it might be a good match because of his video game obsession.
16 hours ago · Like · 4 people
Marlene Biggy whenever I walk into game-stop, I play a mental game of 'find-the-aspie'...... and it never fails, there's ALWAYS a clerk who fits the description, and the one I go to for HONEST answers to my questions :)
16 hours ago · Like · 5 people
Beth Ann Arbogast Best buy is always a good option too
16 hours ago · Like
Alice Unzueta D Ajenjo He maybe could be a teacher and help little kids to learn how to use computers, playgames, etc...
15 hours ago · Like
Lisa Hunter Mears I thought the same thing about Game Stop- a perfect match.
14 hours ago · Like

Shannon Moore said...

I agree with all these comments - Game stores, and for other Aspies: pet stores, book stores, whatever their interest is. They will get to be an expert and they will be taught retail/social scripts that will be invaluable to them to fall back on in life when they need to call banks/doctors/utilities. Tech support is also a great job idea. Ultimately, for someone like this - Video game testing and design could be a lucrative field. Look into classes at the community college (programming, art/design) that could provide the hard/transferable skills. See if there are any gaming conferences etc. in your area. If you're near universities or hightech there are sometimes these things as people are looking into engineering the future of games for educational use. Depending on your child's abilities and interests - describe the potential for a future in creation over consumption. This appeals to Aspies that love innovation, analysis, and/or drawing and character creation.

Shannon Moore said...

I agree with all these comments - Game stores, and for other Aspies: pet stores, book stores, whatever their interest is. They will get to be an expert and they will be taught retail/social scripts that will be invaluable to them to fall back on in life when they need to call banks/doctors/utilities. Tech support is also a great job idea. Ultimately, for someone like this - Video game testing and design could be a lucrative field. Look into classes at the community college (programming, art/design) that could provide the hard/transferable skills. See if there are any gaming conferences etc. in your area. If you're near universities or hightech there are sometimes these things as people are looking into engineering the future of games for educational use. Depending on your child's abilities and interests - describe the potential for a future in creation over consumption. This appeals to Aspies that love innovation, analysis, and/or drawing and character creation.

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