Piece by Piece
Piece by Piece Programming
Employment. While so many of us take this aspect of our lives for granted, employment is often elusive for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. One way to increase the competence and success of students with autism spectrum disorders in the workplace is to create opportunities for students to gain successful experiences in real life work situations while they are in their teen and preteen years.
During June of 2015, we launched our initial Transition Programming, focused on students building employment skills in local businesses, through volunteer opportunities. In each of three volunteer opportunities, students engaged in work tasks, in partners and small groups. While students worked on site, parents met as a group, with a facilitator, to discuss ideas related to building students’ independence and opportunities in the workplace.
In addition to the actual work site tasks, students were engaged in employment-related tasks such as completing and mailing a form to order a work t-shirt (their uniform for the work experiences), viewing videos and photos to preview each work site, learning about each place of employment prior to volunteering on site, and practicing work tasks in advance at home. Following each work site engagement, students were encouraged to complete a reflection about the experience. Parents engaged in tasks such as reading articles and completing checklists prior to each parent session as well, and these tasks served as potential items for discussion topics for parent sessions.
Students, parents, and employers benefitted from the programming, which will now be ongoing, with a focus on continuing to build employment skills of students while educating potential employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with ASDs.
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