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Teaching Important Job Skills to People with Special Needs

African American female teacher standing in classroom.

Certain skills and attitudes are essential to succeed in nearly any job. After all, most employers are looking for employees who exhibit the following soft skills:

  • Punctuality
  • Reliability
  • Strong work ethic
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Willingness to accept and respond to feedback
  • Solid decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Good social and communication skills
  • Strong time management skills

The problem is that many special needs high school students graduate without the chance to learn, practice, and refine these important job skills. You don’t have to wait until your special needs child finds their first job—strive to teach and strengthen these skills now!

Why Job Skills Are So Important to Teach

Employers want to add people to their team who will make valued contributions within the workplace. When deciding whether to hire a person with a disability, the employer wants to feel confident that the individual already understands the job or will be able to readily learn what’s required of them. Exhibiting good employability skills upfront is the best way to engender this confidence in an employer, increasing the chance that your special needs child will hold their new job for the long term.

How to Teach Job Skills to a Special Needs Person

Every young person has the potential to build the strengths that employers find most valuable. As the parent or teacher of a student with special needs, you have many opportunities to teach work-related skills and attitudes—you simply need to know where to look. Consider some of your options:

  • Career exploration activities: Teaching soft skills can go alongside career exploration during the early years of high school. Students should have hands-on opportunities, such as role-playing, job shadowing, workplace tours, and career days, where they can interact with employers in their community firsthand.
  • Early work experience: Young people with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to be integrated into community employment in young adulthood if they hold a paying job while still in high school. These may include school-sponsored weekend or summer jobs that provide exposure to real work experiences so students can learn those all-important soft skills.
  • On-the-job feedback and instruction: As a young person with disabilities is experiencing their first paid job opportunity, supervisors, educators, and family members should provide consistent feedback and instruction regarding their work-related soft skills. While this can be an excellent learning opportunity, the experience should ideally be mutually beneficial for both the employee and the employer. That’s how youth with special needs end up holding long-term jobs.
  • Employment services for people with disabilities: Find an organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as valuable, engaged members of society. Working with such an organization is often the best way to develop soft skills and find job opportunities for special needs youth and adults.

Get Help Teaching Important Job Skills to People with Special Needs

At Providence Center, we feel that everyone who wants to work can and should have the opportunity to work! Earning a living is an extremely important way for people with disabilities to gain independence and live the way they want.

Our work centers on building the skills needed to reach personal goals, including getting and keeping a job. Through person-centered planning, we’re able to match each client’s interests, strengths, and abilities with local employment opportunities. We also provide job-skills training, resume development, interviewing skills, on-the-job support, and more.

To learn more about the employment services available from Providence Center, please call us at (410) 766-2212 or contact us online today.

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