Summer 2013: Being Truly Employable

Wow the National Autism Conference in State College PA was great! I promised participants that I would post some of what we talked about in our sessions. The handouts are now in my Helpful Handouts section.

We talked about what skills people need to have to become truly employable. There is an urgent need for us to begin teaching the skills related to employability from very early in life instead of waiting until the teen age years. We decided this is true for our students with ASD as well as ALL students. People with ASD can be such great employees when we target and teach needed skills!

Here is a skills list that my participants generated. Some are things that we need to KNOW, some are things that we need to be able to DO. We discussed how what you DO is sometimes much more important than what you know because others generally see what we DO and cannot see the content of our minds.

You will notice that each skill mentioned here could and should be broken down into many, specific, objective, and measurable goals. What would happen if we recognized the importance of these skills and started teaching them in an age appropriate way starting at age five, not fifteen!

The list would not be overwhelming if we started teaching from early in life and divided teaching and learning opportunities between school,  home and the community. Assume competence and start teaching these skills no matter what the age, stage or diagnosis of the individual. Start wherever you are with whatever you can do!

We list the most important one first:

  • Being a safe person who understands and uses only safe behavior towards self and others and who cannot be taken advantage of by unsafe people.
  • understanding privacy and property of self and others
  • treating others in a respectful way
  • resolving conflicts appropriately for the setting
  • reading and responding to body language
  • being responsive to the cues of others
  • actively listening and providing feedback to what was said
  • flexibility
  • moving easily from activity to activity at the lead of another
  • discriminating what to say to whom and when and where
  • self-knowledge: the only path to self-advocacy
  • making requests and getting the help one needs
  • generally using courteous behavior
  • able to identify, accept and incorporate constructive "criticism"
  • organizational skills
  • task analysis
  • planning skills (to complete tasks and meet deadlines)
  • telephone skills
  • prioritizing
  • patience
  • initiation skills
  • personal integrity and the behavior that goes with it
  • team building and people skills
  • emotional control: recognize your own emotions and manage the behavior related to your emotions
  • recovering from your own emotional reactions quickly and independently
  • recognizing the emotions of others and managing your behavior related to the emotions of others
  • knowing and understanding the use of humor

So let's get busy making ALL students more employable!