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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work We Go! Vocation Skills Training

Vocational skills training information for individuals with special needs.

Written by Estelle Farias M.S., ED

Gone are the days where the streets are paved with gold and there are job vacancies everywhere you look! The reality is that the economic times are tough for everyone. It is not easy for even the most advanced degreed individual with work experience to land a job quickly in this day and age. Imagine being an individual with a disability; unfortunately it is even tougher for them. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is 65% higher than those without according to the 2012 Allsup Disability Study. That percentage is even greater for individuals with mental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorders. Due to these alarming statistics, it is important that your child learn vocational skills early on. Waiting until a child is 16 years old is not always the best time to start training for work. Most job related skills can be broken down and taught as early as elementary or middle school. This way, when your child reaches their “transition planning age”, they already have a strong foundation of work-related skills that can be reinforced and improved upon.  For instance, teaching your child how to clean up after a meal is the basis to job skills training they might begin to receive in high school. By teaching them how to do it early on, your child will be able to focus more on the speed and accuracy of the skill verses how to initially do the task. Another important aspect to consider when teaching vocational skills is your child’s interests and abilities. If they are able to sit for long periods of time while staying on task, begin to teach them basic office skills. The fundamentals of office related tasks that can be taught early on include but are not limited to:

-Recycling items such as paper products

-Stuffing and sealing envelopes

-Checking the mailbox

-Sorting mail by people’s name

-Stapling, hole punching, and neatly straightening papers

-Photo copying and more

If you child enjoys going to the grocery store and shopping with you, work on skills needed to get a position in that type of environment. Possible job positions related to a grocery store include bagging groceries, attending carts, stocking shelves and cashier to name a few. Never doubt your child’s ability to learn early on. Do not wait until your child is almost finished with school to being their vocational training. With that being said, do not expect all the training to be taught by the school. Utilize your home and community resources around you. Let us encourage and empower our children to succeed in the workforce and not become another statistic.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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