As children grow, the question of their future arises. Will my child be independent? Can they find work?
We see many teens and young adults with special needs enter the workforce every year. There are additional challenges, but it’s not impossible at all.
An excellent book about this topic is “The Autism Job Club” by Michael Bernick and Richard Holden. Published in 2015, the book sheds an important light on the challenges adults who fall within the autism spectrum encounter in today’s job market.
We asked A is for Apple’s Senior Behavioral Program Supervisor to read the book and give us his thoughts. Here’s his review.
What the Book is About – Strategies for Improving Skills and Finding a Rewarding Job
“’The Autism Job Club’ brings to light the difficulties that adults on the autism spectrum experience when attempting to enter today’s job market. The good news is, it’s a much more welcoming job market than it used to be. The authors want to make it even better.
“In this book you’ll find a number of tools, tips and resources which will help readers find a job.
“Individuals on the spectrum, parents, and employers alike, will gain further affirmation that the individuals on the Autism Spectrum aren’t much different from other individuals in the job market. You must discover, nurture and market your skills, just like neurotypical job applicants do.
“The book is broken into 6 strategies, each outlining the best ways for adults with ASD to introduce themselves into many competitive fields. Through the use of:
- Job coaches,
- Ongoing behavior therapies,
- Ongoing job skill training,
- And the proper networking,
“Individuals can find the support needed to rid themselves of the feeling that they don’t have a place in the working world.
“Currently, many companies across the globe have taken up the charge to create and develop meaningful positions within their organizations for new employees on the spectrum. Global giants like SAP, Freddie Mac, Computer Aid and Microsoft, all recently began developing technical and software jobs suitable for these individuals.
“What kinds of jobs are we talking about? The book gives several examples:
- Software Development
- Software Testing
- Craft Work
- Mechanical Repair
“In addition, new job opportunities occur in smaller industries, especially through large DIY and crowdsourcing communities worldwide. Now, individuals with access to basic technology can create business opportunities from the comforts of home.
“Many obstacles do remain, but opportunities are opening up, thanks to the efforts of people and organizations across the globe. With resources like “The Autism Job Club,” the parents of ASD children can help their children to prepare for the challenges they’ll face in adulthood.
“Unlike previous generations, the possibilities of potential employment for the ASD population increase every day!”
What Readers Think
The book’s website, www.autismjobclub.com, leads with a quote from California Senator Dianne Feinstein. She praises the book as a “light on an important issue and offer valuable strategies to improve employment for adults with autism.”
She’s not the only one. On its Amazon page, 88% of reviewers gave “The Autism Job Club” 5 stars. Their reviews share a high opinion of the book’s impact:
- [The book] “offers insights to teachers with children on the autism spectrum.”
- “As the father of a son on the autism spectrum, I stare at the ceiling at night wondering if my son will find his place in the workforce and this book speaks directly to this concern.”
- “It is my hope that this book reaches as wide of an audience as possible, so that the proposed collective employment strategies are implemented, and we all can benefit from integration of this valuable workforce into the ever-changing economic landscape.”
- “This book can help teachers advise autism spectrum students on career choices.”
These reviews come not only from parents, but from nonprofit directors & teachers too.
Job Help in California
As mentioned in the book, many businesses are adding jobs suited to workers on the autism spectrum. But how do you find them?
More good news. Programs now exist to help you do just that. California’s state government and nonprofits have a number of job programs for teens & young adults.
We’ve gathered some links to help you locate & apply for them.
Also, a job fair is coming up later this month: “Pathways to the Future” Employment and Transition Fair on April 23, from 10am to 1pm. It’s sponsored by the SF Autism Society.
Help Your Child Thrive in Their Future Job
If your child is younger, please save this newsletter for later. We hope the resources mentioned here provide guidance for their future. As always, if you have questions about preparing an older child for their future in the workforce, please ask your A is for Apple supervisor.
See you next month!
Autism Speaks Walk on April 23
Last year, A is for Apple participated in the Autism Speaks walkathon to raise money for autism research. The walk is back this month—Saturday, April 23. We’ll have a team walking, and a booth.
Come join us!
Where it’s Held: History Park in San Jose, at 601 Phelan Avenue. Google Map
Starts at 9 a.m. and goes to 1 p.m.
How you can join us:
- Donate on our “Team Page”:
- Visit our booth. We’re giving out tote bags, water bottles, balloons, and rainbow temporary tattoos for the kids.
- Walk with our team. Register to walk with us on our Team Page. Help us raise money for autism research!
- Share the event on Facebook and Twitter.
We hope to see you at History Park on April 23. Bring your walking shoes!
Autism Tips: Daily Routines – Getting Dressed
We have one more topic for our Daily Routines series – getting dressed!
Getting Dressed, Day After Day
“Dressing myself” is a milestone in any child’s growth. It takes patience and persistence to both teach the child, and for the child to learn everything they need. If the child has special needs, the sensory experience can make it even more challenging.
Like all activities, repetition and reward go a long way here. Since how you dress your child teaches them how to do it, using the same methods over and over helps them learn a “proper” dressing routine.
To make the process as simple (and repeatable) as possible, try these tips.
- Make up a picture chart on a big piece of paper. Tape it to the inside of the child’s bedroom or closet door. This serves to remind them of everything they need to do when getting dressed.
- If your child resists wearing a certain clothing item, offer them a choice of 3 items. This gives them a sense of control.
- Have your child stand against a wall or chair so they can balance while you dress/undress them. This also lets them watch what you’re doing.
- Divide your child’s wardrobe into different sections: School Clothes, Going-Out Clothes, Cleaning/Playing Clothes, etc. Then the child knows which clothes to select for which activity (and doesn’t go play outside in their school uniform!).
- If your child doesn’t like getting ready in the morning, try this: Before he/she wakes up, lay a set of clothes out on the floor, in the shape of a body. When they wake up, they see clothes laid out just like they’d wear them.
- Does your child sometimes put their socks or underwear on backwards? Try marking the front of the underwear with a laundry marker. For socks, you can mark the heel, or buy socks with colored heels.
Resources to help:
21 Stress Free Tips for Teaching Your Child with Special Needs to Dress Themselves – FriendshipCircle.org
Do you have any successful dressing methods? Please share them on our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AisforAppleInc/
A Million Dollar Hole-in-One for Autism
The Ernie Els Autism Foundation just got a million dollar boost!
On March 7, 2016, professional golfer Rickie Fowler attended an event with several other pros. They all came out to support Ernie Els’ foundation.
The challenge? Sink a hole-in-one with all eyes on him. The reward? One million dollars for the foundation’s research & education programs.
A hole-in-one is hard enough to do on its own. A hole-in-one with a million dollars on the line? Now that’s a challenge!
And Rickie did it. He sank a clean hole-in-one.
Watch it yourself, right here: Watch Rickie Fowler’s million-dollar hole-in-one for Ernie Els’ autism foundation – FoxSports.com
What a great thing to do for autism awareness! Thank you to Rickie Fowler, to all those golfers who came out in support, and to the Ernie Els Autism Foundation for its good work.
Ask A is for Apple: How to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month
“Dear A is for Apple,
I heard this month is Autism Awareness Month. What does that mean?”
Autism Awareness Month coincides with World Autism Awareness Day, April 2. The entire month of April is dedicated to autism awareness. Businesses and charity organizations hold events and celebrations, like the Autism Speaks Walk (see the Local Events section above).
You can help us raise autism awareness too! Here are some ways you can celebrate Autism Awareness Month.
- Change the lightbulbs in your home. Blue is the official color for Autism Awareness Month. You’ll find blue lightbulbs for sale at Home Depot and Target. These stores donate a percentage of the lightbulbs’ sales to autism research.
- Put a blue overlay on your Facebook photo. Here’s an easy way to do it: Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue Color Tool.
- Make a pin! We make pins every year to show our support for Autism Awareness. Several of our directors have theirs on, in the photo above. Here’s how you can make your own pins at home.
Instructions for Making Pins
You’ll need these materials:
- Acrylic blue paint
- Painting sponges (or brushes, but sponges work easier)
- Puzzle (pay attention to the puzzle piece size and quantity. Typically any puzzle with over 60 pieces has the right size you’d want for a pin.)
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Metallic pin backings
- Paper towels/plates (for keeping the work area clean!)
Craft stores like Michael’s carry most of these items. Target carries plenty of puzzles.
Steps for Making the Pins:
1) Sort the puzzle into pieces you’d want for pins. Most will work fine, but some pieces (depending on the puzzle) won’t work right.
2) Flip over the pieces so the back side (non-colored) is face up.
3) Use the brush/sponge to paint all the pieces Blue. And allow to dry. (Should only take 5-7 minutes. Apply a second coat/touchup if desired.)
4) Once dry, flip the pieces over to the image side up, and place them on the clean paper/area. Plug in glue gun.
5) Apply a small dab of hot glue to the image side of the piece. Arrange the pieces in the direction you would like the pin to be when worn.
6) Place one metallic pin backing into the hot glue dab.
7) Put the puzzle piece to one side, to cool. Repeat adding the pin backing for the other pieces.
8) Once all of them are finished & cooled, place them in a Ziploc bag. Hand them out to whomever wants them.
9) Optional—Print out a small handout that gives a brief history of autism awareness and why the puzzle piece is significant. Here are examples: “What does the Puzzle Ribbon mean to you?”
Join us on the A is for Apple Facebook page this month! We’ll have announcements for awareness events you can attend.
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future newsletter.
Inside A is for Apple
Ethical Discussions at the CalABA Conference, February 26-28
All A is for Apple employees must abide by our high ethical standards. We are helping your child thrive, a responsibility we do not take lightly. Which is why we were thrilled when Steven, one of our Clinical Directors, returned from February’s CalABA conference in Santa Clara with notes and experiences from eye-opening discussions about ethics in our field.
Here are additional notes from some of the workshops he attended.
- “Strategies for Teaching Independent Play Skills for Children with Autism and Distance Training Procedures to Train Natural Change Agents” – By Thomas Higbee. The presenter showed how a child learned to play Hide-and-Seek using a binder, changing how it displayed different parts of the game until the child no longer needed the binder.
- “Extension of Functional Analysis to the Prevention of Problem Behavior” – By Tara Fahmie. The presenter focused on the importance of early intervention and recognizing problem behaviors. A family with a young child that starts showing potentially-serious behaviors needs to address them at that time. When the child gets older, the behaviors will only get more severe.
- “Functional Skills and Curriculum-based Assessments for Learners with Moderate-to-Severe Disabilities” – By Patrick McGreevy. Patrick demonstrated how to do a Tact (label) to Mand (request) procedure. A child may be able to repeat the label of an object, but not know how to use that label to request it. If a child CAN tell you what they want, it will benefit them now and when they are 60.
Steven’s thoughts? “It was a super event. I’m looking forward to the next one. Being able to see and meet some of the great minds in our field, instead of on a computer screen or book, is a neat experience.”