This blog is part seven of Transitions’ series on Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates. Every person has something great to offer a workplace, including young people with autism and learning disabilities. There are certain universal qualities that all top employees possess, regardless of their industry or job level. This series will present a few of those qualities and the ways in which you as a parent, teacher or service provider can help teach them to the young adult in your life with autism or other learning disabilities.
This week’s installment focuses on a topic that is essential to all aspects of life, but notoriously challenging to people with autism or learning disabilities: having strong communication skills.
The ability to communicate well is essential in any job. This does not just include being able to socialize, but also to understand how to interact appropriately with supervisors, coworkers and customers alike, seek out information when necessary, tackle difficult subjects tactfully and diplomatically, and express oneself across different media. Strong communication skills include being able to:
- Build positive relationships with coworkers
- Talk to supervisors in all contexts, from establishing daily responsibilities to asking for time off
- Ask questions and follow up with supervisors and coworkers when necessary
- Know when it is or is not appropriate to talk about certain subjects
- Accept and give critiques and constructive criticism when appropriate
- Give and receive direction
- Talk over the phone or email correctly and comfortably
- Express oneself clearly through writing, and use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar when doing so
- Be courteous, kind and respectful to everyone they encounter on the job
How You Can Help:
- For those young adults who struggle with social skills, use instruction, discussion, role-play, script writing and practical application to teach them skills for interacting with people in all contexts, including on the job.
- Internships help young adults practice the skills of interacting appropriately in the workplace with supervisors, coworkers and customers in a safe environment before they take on long-term, paying jobs.
- Coach young adults on how to approach sensitive topics confidently, assertively and respectfully. Use role-play, script writing and other activities and resources as needed.
- Through assignments and projects given in school and extracurricular activities, stress the importance of professionalism in the way young adults speak and write, including respectful tone and grammatically correct prose.
Communication is not always easy even for the most socially adept person. There are many unwritten rules, complex hierarchies and nonverbal cues that many find difficult to master. But with persistence, repetition and a little understanding, it is possible to teach anyone to become a great communicator in any scenario. For more information about Transitions and how its programs help young adults with autism and learning disabilities learn to communicate effectively in all aspects of their lives, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author:
Gina Warsaw teaches Career Success courses at Transitions, which cover professional presentation, preparing resumes and cover letters, job searching, basic job skills, interacting professionally in the workplace and more. She has almost 30 years of experience supporting people with disabilities to reach their life goals, including more than 10 years focused on helping people transition into integrated community employment opportunities. Gina is currently the Director of Day Supports at The Arc Lexington.