People with learning disabilities can obtain gainful, fulling employment as adults – but they may need a little extra support to do so.
Making the shift from high school to the workforce can be difficult for anyone, but people with learning differences may find it especially challenging. The Transitions program, located near Albany, New York, was founded to make this transition smoother for young people who need a little extra support. We offer support programs and camps tailored to the specific needs of these young people, including help with career exploration, internship placement and job coaching. But even if your child does not attend a Transitions program, there are still ways you can help him or her in the transition from high school to the workforce.
Jobs for People with Learning Disabilities: How to Support Your Child
Just as your child needed extra help in school, he or she will likely need additional support in planning for the future. Helping your child with a learning disability prepare for and navigate entering the workforce will be essential to his or her success. Below are some tips for doing just that, based on the Transitions Career Success, Independent Living and Self-Advocacy and Leadership curricula:
- Explore and build interests – ask your child about his or her interests and goals for the future regarding jobs and/or career paths. Discuss the various possibilities and talk about his or her strengths and weaknesses to determine what careers would suit him or her best.
- Create a transition plan – a transition plan is a strategy to help your child with a learning disability move from high school to adult life. Transition plans typically include realistic goals and the steps he or she will take to get there.
- Build work skills – there are endless opportunities to provide your teen the chance to build work skills. This can be as simple as having him or her complete certain tasks and chores around the house, such as yard work or walking the dog. You could also encourage your child to market his or her services to the neighbors, get a part-time job. Having a consistent responsibility can teach time management and accountability, both essential to success in jobs for people with learning disabilities. It may also be helpful to have them take classes to teach them common job or computer skills that would help them in an office setting.
- Explore internship opportunities –internships are invaluable for exploring career options, gaining workplace experience and potentially networking for a desired field of choice.
- Consider a job coach – a job coach can help your child with learning disabilities not only find and obtain a job, but also continue to be successful at work. Job coaches have various titles, including employment specialist, job developer or employment consultant.
- Talk about self-advocacy – it is important for youth with learning disabilities to understand that once they graduate high school, they are no longer entitled to the same supports they had throughout their K-12 education. Youth with disabilities entering the workforce will be responsible for making their needs known and advocating for the necessary accommodations. They should also be familiar with the rights afforded to them by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
To find out more about how the programs offered at Transitions can help young adults successfully transition into the workforce, 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.