Finding your first job can be exciting, but it can also provoke anxiety if you don’t know how to start the process. For teens on the Autism spectrum, navigating the job search and interviewing process can be especially challenging.
Cindy Walker, a Licensed Professional Counselor and manager of the Resilient Hearts Counseling Program at AZA United, offers this advice: “Social settings and new situations usually bring anxiety and stress. But if teens take a few extra steps to prepare, it will help make the experience less anxiety provoking and more successful.”
Here are a few tips for teens to get started:
Remember, applying for jobs can be a job itself. It takes most people months and submitting many applications before they get hired for the right job. If you become discouraged, focus on your goal of finding a job that will bring you joy and fulfilment for many years to come.
As an alternative to paid employment, volunteering is another great way to gain real-life experience. Consider opportunities at a local animal shelter, YMCA’s, nursing homes, hospitals, environmental organizations, etc.
Jamey Zurawski is co-owner of Design Works Gaming, a Scottsdale based company that embraces diversity and employs people with different abilities and talents. Jamey is an AZA United board member and says they have had great success with employees who have ASD.
“Employers need to be open-minded and look past a traditional resume,” says Jamey. “We try our best to make the interview process comfortable. We understand individuals with autism might be more nervous and we want to put them at ease by getting to know them personally.”
Here are some tips for employers:
Individuals with autism have so many talents and strengths to offer employers. By having an open mind and thinking creatively about what is most important, teens can gain valuable work experience and employers may just find their next in-house superstar!
AZA United is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides a wide variety of direct services and supports for individuals with autism, their families, and the community. Programs include speech therapy, ABA behavioral intervention, habilitation and respite care, counseling, and parent training. To learn more about AZA United, visit www.AZAunited.org.
To learn more about Design Game Works, visit: www.designworksgaming.com.