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Teaching Pre-Employment Skills to 14–17-Year-Olds

Teaching Pre-Employment Skills to 14–17-Year-Olds

Joanne Lara | Susan Osborne | Temple Grandin


Additional Information


Based on the Autism Works Now!® Workplace Readiness Workshop, this interactive resource shows how to help students aged 14-17 develop the necessary transition skills for getting and keeping a meaningful job, with accompanying worksheets available to download.

Structured around 2-hour weekly sessions over an eight month period, the program is ideal for teaching to groups of students with autism. It covers essential topics such as organization and time management, interview skills, appropriate workplace attire, and networking. It advises on how to arrange a field trip to local businesses so students can gain experience of being in the workplace. Worksheets and questionnaires help to track progress and discover what types of job will be appropriate based on an individual's skills and interests, and the book also includes a template for creating effective resumes.

Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne have created a comprehensive work readiness program with Autism Works Now! and their Workplace Readiness Workshop. With this valuable resource, many individuals with autism will gain the ability to get and keep meaningful employment so they can go on to become valued members of their communities.
Alex Plank, Autism Advocate and Founder,

Joanne Lara, MA teaches the Autism Works Now curriculum, which provides expressive movement therapy and workplace skills to individuals with autism for meaningful employment.

Susan Osborne is Director of Autism Works Now (AWN), and also delivers the AWN curriculum. She was the former programme director at the College Internship Program in Long Beach, California, where she implemented and developed career training and job placement for young adults with autism.

With an estimated 50,000 kids with autism reaching adulthood in the U.S. each year, thank you Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne for creating an innovative program to prepare these young adults for employment. With the help of Autism Works Now!, they will reach their full potential and lead independent, productive, meaningful lives. Hallelujah!
Yudi Bennett, Co-Founder, Foothill Autism Alliance & Exceptional Minds
Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne raise thought-provoking questions and unpack ideas relating to how we are preparing our students on the autism spectrum for life after high school. With this book, they lay the groundwork for educators and families who are helping young people develop the tools they need to work and live in the 21st Century.
Dan Phillips, Transition Specialist, Culver City Unified School District
This is a much-needed resource that fills the gap in this country's school-to-job programs!
Areva Martin Esq., President, Special Needs Network, USA
This book gives me hope that future generations of students leaving high school will be better prepared to meet the "real world" of employment and social challenges that have previously been ignored by our educational system.
Pat Grayson-DeJong, M.Ed., parent and retired Autism Specialist, LAUSD
This is the quintessential handbook for every teenager and young adult on the autism spectrum and their employers! It's a fabulous guide to making certain individuals with autism are successful in their careers and job search. Exactly what we need right now.
Susan Corwin, Parent/Advocate
This book develops the skill set that our youth need in order to compete in the job force with dignity!
Matt Asner, Parent, Advocate, VP at the Autism Society of America
Being part of Autism Works Now makes me feel more positive about the future and possibilities to help me reach my goals. That makes me happy.
Zachary Inkeles, author and artist, candidate, Autism Works Now, Los Angeles
With this book, Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne present a comprehensive curriculum to prepare students with autism spectrum disorder to transition from school to employment. This interactive resource is an essential guide for teachers and caregivers working with young people to develop the necessary skills for getting and keeping a job.
Doreen Granpeesheh, CEO, Center for Autism & Related Disorders (C.A.R.D.)
Brilliant! This is essential reading for autism parents, educators and self-advocates. Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne have created the road map to successful employment in today's job market and - spoiler alert - preparation begins earlier than we were previously told! As an autism parent I am exceptionally grateful for this amazing tool. The work force needs these amazing, talented individuals, and they deserve the dignity and empowerment that comes with gainful employment!
Shannon Penrod, host of Autism Live, producer of Autism in the Classroom
Employing a strengths-based approach the authors combine concepts of engaging deep interests with practical strategies for finding and keeping a job. A great step forward in making fulfilling and productive employment for autistic individuals the rule rather than the exception.
Stephen M. Shore, Ed.D., Internationally-known educator, consultant, presenter, and author on issues related to the autism spectrum

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Teaching Pre-Employment Skills to 14–17-Year-Olds: The Autism Works Now!® Method by Joanne Lara and Susan Osborne 4
Foreword by Temple Grandin 13
Preface by Joanne Lara 17
Introduction 25
Chapter 1. The Importance of Work 29
What is meaningful work? 30
Why are friends important in a job search? 31
How are individuals with autism affected in their ability in finding and keeping a job? 33
How is autism treated and how can the basis of those treatments assist individuals with autism in the workplace? 35
What are hard and soft job skills and how do these skills affect individuals with autism in the workplace? 36
What more can be done to help individuals with autism succeed in the workplace? 37
Why is it important to teach workplace readiness skills to middle and high school students with autism? 37
How can we address the unmet needs of middle and high school students with autism and their ability to secure and sustain meaningful employment? 37
How does the AWN Method accomplish these goals? 38
Why are participants in the AWN program called candidates? 38
What is the format of classroom meetings? 38
What is the format of field trips? 39
How is this book formatted? 39
How does the book accommodate for the needs of middle and high school students with autism? 40
Chapter 2. Matching the Job to the Individual and Filling in the Blanks 41
Why is it important to match an individual with autism to a job that is suited to their interests, skills, and abilities? 42
How do you determine an individual’s interests, skills, and abilities? 42
How do you use a candidate’s preferences in exploring possible job options? 48
What workplace paperwork is covered in the workshop? 49
Chapter 3. Getting Organized with Google 52
How do you help candidates improve their executive functioning skills? 52
What are the various Google apps used in the Workplace Readiness Workshop? 53
Chapter 4. Dress for Success 59
Why is it important to discuss dressing well on the job in a workplace readiness program? 59
How important is dress when going for a job interview? 60
How do you teach candidates the concept of matching attire to the culture of the company? 60
How do you teach candidates the importance of wearing clothes that fit properly? 60
How do you teach candidates about dress variations within a company’s culture? 61
How do you provide candidates with additional information on dressing for the workplace? 62
Do you incorporate social media in classroom instruction? 62
Chapter 5. Interview Essentials 63
What are the biggest fears people have about job interviews? 63
What is the most important goal for a job interview? 64
How do you teach candidates the key steps in preparing for an interview? 64
Is there any additional information that is covered in the workshop during Interview Essentials? 67
What else does the workshop provide to candidates to help them generalize the information about interview preparation? 69
Chapter 6. Landing a Job 70
How do you teach candidates how to network as part of their job search process? 71
What is an informational interview and how can candidates use it in their job search? 73
How do you help candidates create a professional online presence? 74
What professional and personal social media sites do you recommend to candidates? 75
Which social media sites do you recommend for your candidates? 76
What other online resources are there to search for employment? 78
What is the biggest difference between having a personal job referral and applying for a job posted online? 78
What other employment services are available to individuals with autism? 78
Chapter 7. Connecting and coworkers 80
How are social communication skills affected in individuals with autism? 80
How do you teach candidates appropriate workplace social communication skills? 81
How do you teach candidates the importance of making a good first impression at work? 83
How important is it for candidates to socialize with coworkers outside the workplace? 84
In relationship to work, why is it important to teach stress management to individuals with autism? 84
Why is it important for candidates to learn about the organizational structure of the company where they work? 88
Chapter 8. Understanding the Workplace 91
How do you teach candidates about the hierarchy of jobs within an organization? 92
What information is covered about the role of a human resources department? 93
Which state and federal employment regulations are covered in the workshop? 93
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? 100
What disabilities are covered under the ADA? 100
How does the ADA affect individuals in the workplace? 100
Under the ADA, what is considered reasonable accommodations for employees with autism? 101
What are examples of accommodations that would be considered reasonable under the ADA? 101
Can an employer discriminate against an employee because of a disability? 103
What questions and actions can and can’t an employer ask of an employee with a disability? 104
Is an applicant or employee required to disclose their disability to their employer? 104
When and to whom should an employee disclose? 104
What needs to be considered in regards to a reasonable accommodation? 105
What do you instruct candidates to do when they experience a violation of their rights? 105
What information do you provide on the topic of conflict resolution in the workplace? 106
What is the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument for conflict resolution? 107
What is the Interest-Based Relational Approach to conflict resolution? 108
What information does the workshop cover in regards to dating coworkers? 110
Chapter 9. Behavior, Behavior, Behavior 115
What should a behavior plan look like? Tools for challenging behaviors 115
What is Positive Behavior Support (PBS)? 116
Determining the function of the behavior 117
Implementing PBS strategies: “The Big Three” components of PBS 118
Chapter 10. Group and Candidate Requirements 122
Setting guidelines 123
Candidate requirements 123
Chapter 11. Classroom Requirements 125
Room set-up 125
Wifi 125
Equipment 125
Chapter 12. Classroom Meetings 127
Class structure 127
Part 1: Agenda and Introductions 127
Part 2: Roundtable Discussion 127
Part 3: Prepare and Practice 129
Part 4: Recall and Review 133
Chapter 13. Field Trips 134
Choosing a business 134
Scheduling a field trip 135
Field trip preparation 138
During the field trip 141
Follow-up 141
Chapter 14. Instructional Materials 143
Organizing candidate binders 143
Worksheets and study guides 147
References 256
Index 260
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