I mentioned on Monday that this week was about transition for our adults on the spectrum. And Mr Isaac Osae-Brown, a resource person and a special needs education specialist in the US, has been speaking to us on the topic.
Here is more from him on the topic:
” Services and Supports:
Individuals with ASD need a number of interventions to improve their communication and social functioning in the academic environment. Research has demonstrated the efficacy of a variety of techniques which include social stories and comic strip conversations. Advances in technology have created new employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Research also reveals that Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other federal legislation have mandated the provision of reasonable accommodation, including assistive technology to all individuals who might benefit from them.
To integrate meaningfully into the community after post-secondary education, adolescentswith moderate and severe autism will need appropriate training and education in assistive technology and work-based experiences. The use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) enables young adult with autism who lack functional communication to initiate requests to describe what they want. Another effective strategy for use with students with ASD in the learning environment is the Smart Board interactive activity. Several researchers believe that Smart Board computer technology can enhance the effect of social stories in teaching social and behavioral skills to children with ASD. According to the researchers, social stories involve the creation of stories using photographs of students on the Smart Board. Students engage in stories while their interactions and behaviors are observed. Smart Board can be used as a computer for users to easily import many types of information, including video clips, short films and music.
The interactive nature of the Smart Board and the Picture Exchange Communication System offer many practical uses for providing social interaction and communication. As students with moderate and severe ASD leave the safety of the educational system to the workplace, post-secondary and related support services may be needed to ameliorate language and social deficits and to facilitate personal and professional development.
Preparedness for Transition issues:
Since getting employment provides a source of reasonable income and enhances social esteem and social connections, adolescence with moderate to severe autism disorders need adequate preparation for work-based learning. According to the researchers, these students need to know information about mobility requirement, transportation alternatives, appearance, dress code and interpersonal relations.
The demand for vocational, problem-solving, behavioral and cognitive skills such as how individuals handle success and failures on the job are all positively related to job success. Sitlington et al (2010) revealed that along with the need for core academics, there is also a great need for good interpersonal and personal skills such as responsibility and self-esteem to thrive in the workplace.
Providing basic occupational information about world of work to students with autism is a challenge and so they will need adequate training and preparation with the help of job coaches and developers who can assist these students to know some basic information on realities of the workplace. Educational researchers reveal that since work has several reward systems and is bound by time, adolescents with autism need to know work habits and attitudes and know what is required to maintain employment by performing work routine adequately and handling any problems that may arise at the work place. With the support of career and technical education (CTE) and school-to-work staff, students can build competency in basic reading, problem-solving, sociability and technology. Students with autism spectrum disorder should be taught about disability disclosure, workplace self- advocacy, and how to request reasonable accommodations.
These students gain basic and high-level technical competence through work and so there is a need to have them identify task that teach technical competence, rotation through several placements within the workplace and the recognition of personal and social competencies as key learning objectives.
Lee & Carter (2012) highlight high quality employment preparation by stating that as students with autism are ready to seek jobs after graduation, practitioners in vocational agencies can further assist them in speciﬁc job-seeking, job-coaching, and job-maintenance skills and in developing effective problem solving and coping skills for dealing effectively with work-related issues. In addition, the students should be given supportive opportunities to practice and deepen self-determination skills within the settings in which they will ultimately need them. Difficulties exits however, due to social and pragmatic interaction deceits and unusual repetitive behaviors that can create signiﬁcant barriers to ﬁnding and maintaining employment with adolescence with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder.
Ample evidence-based interventions are documented concerning transition services for students with emotional disabilities, behavior problems, and disabilities involving greater cognitive impairment (e.g. low-functioning autism), as well as vocational services for adults with persistent physical and mental illnesses. These elements, according to researchers, provide a comprehensive, collaborative, and longitudinal framework for clinical and research interventions aimed at fostering successful employment for students with autism spectrum disorder.
Thus, while assistive technology accounted for the growth of communication and social skills, work-based learning programs which include occupational awareness and employment-related knowledge also amplify human development allowing adolescence with moderate to severe autism to observe and perform hands-on work, develop work readiness skills, and learn to draw their own conclusions.
Solution to the Problem:
Adolescents with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder need transitional goals and activities planning to function effectively in the workplace. Transition goals activities should be developed to address the following domains: Academic skill, Social skills, Employment skills and Recreation/Leisure skills. Activities in the academic domain should include writing a narrative story about a disability, reading aloud vocabulary words that relate to the students’ disability, and using computers to search the web about information that relate to students’ disability. The use of assistive technology will help to augment their processing and memory functions.
Social skills activities could include learning to be sensitive to other’s feelings and preferences initiating conversations, sharing and respecting other’s property. This will enhance pragmatic skills; build self confidence and positive social interaction. Students with autism spectrum disorder are limited in job related issues and need to know work habits and attitudes. They also need to know what is required to maintain employment by performing work routine adequately and handling any problems that may arise at the work place. To address this, students should be prepared to participate in a mock interview with the assistance of teaching staff and learn to fill out job application with the computer. This will improve sociability, integrity and self-esteem that will help them to conduct focus career exploration and make reasoned choices about their future.
To be prepared and transition effectively in the workplace, students with autism disorder need to expand their awareness of leisure alternatives and understand the value of skills relating to social expectations and self determination. Some activities needed to address this problem would be having students watch educational documentary programs and movies with peers, and playing games together within a structured setting. Effective implementation of goals and activities in the aforementioned domains will help prepare adolescents with moderate to severe autism disorders to transition effectively from school to the workplace”