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How do I support my Autistic Child in Starting Work

Transitioning into the workplace, whether it be from secondary school or from a form of third level education is daunting no matter what. Sometimes autistic people might not feel as confident in their abilities when in fact they are sure to have a wide range of strengths. 

Maybe your child has gone through the education system feeling overwhelmed and anxious most days. The school environment as well as the university environment can be exhausting for autistic students and might mean that they feel discouraged to continue on into the workplace. If compared to the structured step-by-step education system, the idea that there is no next step after transitioning into the workplace except retirement can be quite daunting. However, the workplace is somewhere where you can really show your strengths. Ideally, they will find a job that they love, but this might take some time. There is a lot of work still to be done in the realm of autism-friendly employment practices, with difficulty starting work being a common issue among autistic people. 

Perhaps your child might be comparing themselves to other people of a similar age or with similar qualifications. Make sure you avoid drawing any comparisons between your child and others. Let your child know there is only one of them and that what anyone else is doing is irrelevant. They are the very best person at being themselves! Remind your child that they might have over 40 years in the workplace and there is plenty of time for them to try new things, new positions and new routes in their careers to find what they truly love.

autism starting work
Remote work has become increasingly viable as a result of COVID-19

Counsellors and Life Coaches are another great way to build confidence in the transition into the workplace. These people are experts at dealing with transitions and can help your son or daughter figure out their strengths as well as areas they need additional support. See if your son or daughter would be interested in attending a session with one of these experts. Sometimes people might not be keen on visiting a counsellor because of their connection with mental health but a life coach is a transition expert separate to mental health. 

There are a number of government employment support schemes which might help your son or daughter get back or start working. You can read about these various schemes here.

For your child to learn more about their passions and how they might transcribe into their career or work you could encourage them to take the IKIGAI test. IKIGAI is a Japanese term which means “reason for being”. Taking an IKIGAI test will help you decipher your passion and can be a useful tool for deciding you future career. You can take an IKIGAI test online here.

autism starting work
Freelancing allows someone to set their own workflow

If the workplace is particularly daunting for your son or daughter, think about alternative options they might have. For example, can they work remotely? Would your son or daughter be able to become self-employed or do a form of freelance work? Freelance work allows you to work at your own pace, potentially in an area that is of particular interest to you. This makes freelance a good autism-friendly jump-off point for starting work. 

Be there for your child. If your child has even one trusted adult that they can speak to about their feelings and their struggles they will be better able to cope with the challenges they are presented with. Let your child know that you understand how stressful and confusing life can be and that it can take time to find your purpose and place in life. Most importantly, be patient with your son or daughter, it might take them a long time to figure out what their true passion is and a job that they love. Give them time and continue to support them along their journey. 

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