picture of a teenager with autism sat on his phone with headphones on

10 Things You Need To Know To Prepare Teens With Autism For The World Of Work

As teens with autism transition into adulthood, entering the professional world presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Preparing these young adults for the workforce not only fosters their independence and self-confidence but also enriches the workplace with diverse perspectives. 

Mark Blakey, a writer for Autism Parenting Magazine, provides essential tips for equipping teens with autism with the necessary tools to thrive in their careers.

10 Essential Tips To Prepare For Work

  1. Identify Strengths and Interests: Mark says, ‘Begin by identifying your teen's strengths and areas of interest. This will help them find a career path that aligns with their abilities and passions, making work more enjoyable and sustainable.’
  2. Skill Development: Encourage them to focus on developing both job-specific skills and soft skills like communication, time management, and problem-solving. Tailored skill development programs can provide practical knowledge and hands-on experience.
  3. Vocational Training and Internships: ‘Encourage participation in vocational training programs and internships,’ suggests Mark. ‘These opportunities offer real-world experience and a chance to practise workplace skills in a supportive environment.’
  4. Workplace Accommodations: Educate your teen on how to ask for necessary workplace accommodations, such as a quiet workspace or clear written instructions, to help them manage sensory issues and enhance productivity.
  5. Utilise Support Services: Mark advises, ‘Leverage support services offered by non-profits and governmental agencies that specialise in helping individuals with autism find employment and adapt to their roles.’
  6. Build a Support Network: Help them build a network of supportive coworkers and mentors who understand autism. This network can provide guidance, support, and advocacy within the workplace.
  7. Career Counselling: Regular sessions with a career counsellor who understands autism can help them navigate challenges and plan future career steps effectively.
  8. Encourage Self-Advocacy: Mark encourages, ‘Teach self-advocacy skills so they can communicate their needs and rights in the workplace effectively.’
  9. Continuous Learning: Encourage a mindset of continuous learning and development to keep up with changing job requirements and personal growth.
  10. Promote Independence: Gradually foster independence by supporting their decision-making in job selection, problem-solving, and daily work tasks.

Successful Professionals With Autism

Several individuals with autism have made significant contributions to various fields, demonstrating that success is more than achievable with the proper support and opportunities. For example:

  • Temple Grandin, a renowned animal scientist and autism spokesperson, has revolutionised practices in the livestock industry. Her ability to think in pictures, a trait linked to her autism, provided unique insights that improved animal handling techniques.
  • Daniel Tammet, a high-functioning autistic savant, is known for his extraordinary mathematical and language abilities. He has authored books that provide insights into his thought process and experiences with autism.
  • Dan Aykroyd, the celebrated actor and comedian, has spoken openly about his diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. His creativity and unique perspective have significantly influenced his successful career in entertainment.
  • Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist known for her influential role in global climate change movements, has openly discussed her Asperger's diagnosis and how it has shaped her focus and commitment to her cause.

‘Embracing the unique talents and perspectives of individuals with autism not only enriches their lives but also enhances the communities and workplaces they join,’ explains Mark. ‘With the right preparation and support, there is no limit to what they can achieve.’


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