Smooth Transitions for Autistic Children: School to Work

One of the major transitions in any person’s life is that from school to work. In high school or college many people lead a protected life, and are still supported by their parents, financially and in other ways. After schooling is completed, these ties are often cut, leaving the recent graduate to fend for him- or herself. This transition can be scary for anyone, but even more so for an individual with autism. School is a time to learn to live with peers in a controlled environment, but the work force is a difficult concept for autistic people because one must often deal with new situations daily, rather than have the comfort of a set living situation.

One of the main things autistic graduates need to learn is how to deal with people in a business world. Entering this world includes proper grooming, something that may not have been a big deal in high school or college. Proper grooming, such as brushing teeth, wearing appropriate clothing, using deodorant, and combing hair may come natural for many people, but an autistic person needs help with these tasks—he or she may not realize what is inappropriate. By this stage in life, many autistic individuals who have gone through schooling are at a maturity level where they can do the task assigned with few problems, and avoid outbursts in most situations. In fact, it has been shown that some autistic individuals are highly skilled at tasks involving math or music. Learning a new job in the work force is not the problem—relating to others in a social situation is where difficulty lies.

These relationship problems also, unfortunately, allow people to take advantage of autistic individuals. Most people who suffer from autism believe that all people are like themselves, and inherently good. In business, sadly, it is very common to come across companies and businesspeople who are not ethical. This often shocks autistic individuals, who may have no idea how to handle this sort of situation. In addition, others in the work force may not be experienced in dealing with someone who has autism, leading to bad relationships among employees. By hiring an autistic individual, employers must not only instruct them regarding the new job, but also provide direction for others who have to work with someone with unfamiliar challenges. Intolerance in the work force is common, and autistic individuals need to be prepared for this, as much as is possible.

Overall, it is important for people with autism to realize that there will be a major change between life in high school or college and life in the work force. It would be very beneficial for these individuals to seek help through the transition from therapists, family members, and mentors. Going from school to work is difficult, but with a little motivation and hard work anyone, autistic or not, can succeed.