Important Job Skills for Adults with Special Needs

Skills such as communication and organization are generally considered important to the majority of jobs. There are some skills that can be particularly difficult to master for people with autism, intellectual disabilities and other learning difficulties. They might need some additional support that means job training for adults with special needs to focus on these skills.

What skills should be covered in job training for special needs adults?

Many of the skills that need to be covered in job training for special needs adults are the same as those that adults who do not have special needs. However, they may need to be taught in a different way, or more time will be required to master them. Things like traveling to work, foundational skills in reading, writing and arithmetic, being able to communicate appropriately with managers, colleagues and customers, time management, the ability to follow any necessary health and safety guidelines, possibly to handle money, to use any job-specific technologies and to adapt to solve any new problems are important for any employee. These skills are likely to be particularly difficult for people who struggle with social interaction, learning and memory as many adults with autism, intellectual disabilities and learning difficulties do.

Job-related skills are not just those for time spent in the workplace, but also those involved in securing a job. These include career planning, producing a resume and preparing for interviews. Career planning, in particular, may be difficult, as coaches need to help students identify what they want to do, what sort of roles they will be most suitable to perform and which employers are likely to be supportive of their complex needs and willing to adapt accordingly.

How does job training for adults with special needs work?

To teach adults with special needs these kinds of skills, educators and support workers need to adapt their approach to the specific needs of the student. One of the best ways to help teach and prepare adults with special needs for employment is through work experience placements. These provide a safe environment wherein students can practice the different kinds of social interactions needed in the workplace and can become familiar with best practices and procedures.

Being able to train on the job allows the development of practical experience, which is valuable for people who struggle with theoretical concepts. These placements could be internal, with the school establishing its own workplace with appropriate training and support, or external, by building partnerships with local businesses that are willing to invest in employees with autism, intellectual disabilities and other special needs. Students also need to learn to advocate for themselves in the workplace, so they can function even when their normal support is not available.

Obtaining a job is one of the key steps on the road to independence. It builds everything from financial security to self-confidence. In fact, it is an excellent place to continue to develop the communication, social, organization and foundational skills that are initially taught at school. By providing a clear path from education to training to employment, support workers can help adults with special needs achieve autonomy and a better quality of life.

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