5 Ways to Prepare a Teen with Special Needs for a Part Time Job
By Ron Stefanski
Getting a job is a rite of passage for most teenagers. Part-time jobs offer many benefits to teens, from saving money to career experience. Your special needs child deserves the same opportunities. Your teenager will gain confidence and independence as they approach adulthood with their first job. With a little extra support, you can successfully prepare a teenager with special needs for a part time job
Set Them Up for Success
A new job can, and will, bring all kinds of challenges with it. Give your child the skills and experience they need before getting their first real job. Prepare a Teenager with Special Needs for a Part Time Job by setting them up for success.
You may already give your child basic household chores. Think about increasing the responsibility level for each chore. Teenagers as young as 14 can help prepare meals, care for pets, and maintain the house. As you increase these responsibilities, add an hourly wage and payday to your routine. This is especially helpful for teenagers who have difficulty planning for the future. By simulating employment, you’ll get your teen ready to handle their own funds.
Try bringing your teenager to work with you.
Basic office work, like filing or shredding, done under your supervision is a great first step toward a job. Being in a professional environment with you models appropriate work behavior. Your teen will gain professional experience and you’ll be confident that they can handle the workplace.
If you can’t bring your kiddo to work with you, try volunteering with them. It’s a perfect stepping stone to that first job, and it will give you peace of mind to work beside them in the meantime. Volunteering can also lead to paying positions!
Choose the Right Job
Help your teen find the right job for their needs. A child who is prone to sensory overload should probably avoid the food industry. A teen with social anxiety will be uncomfortable working retail. The good news is that teens as young as 15 have a variety of job options available to them!
Help your teenager reflect on their passions and strengths, then do a little research. Are there job opportunities in your area that reflect those strengths? Get creative! If your teenager is unsure what they can handle, have them start with odd jobs for friends and family. There will always be someone who needs help with their computer, or wants someone to mow their lawn.
All teenagers benefit from established routines, but special needs teens benefit doubly. Prepare a Teenager with Special Needs for a Part Time Job by establishing new routines before their first day of work. Write down new schedules, set goals, and prepare for challenges like sick days.
When your teenager has a part-time job, you will inevitably need to break your routine. Give your teen some common coping mechanisms for these challenges and practice using them. Just like a fire drill, you practice those measures before you need them to make them second nature. Talk through these disruptions with your teen and help them understand their reactions. It will be a critical life skill for them as adults.
Think back to your first job. Feel the butterflies in your stomach, the excitement of taking a step toward adulthood, and the fear of failure, all mixed together. Getting a job is both exciting and stressful for teens and parents. Don’t let your worries be your teenager’s worries. Instead, give them tools to calm their anxiety at work and at home.
Prepare a Teenager with Special Needs for a Part Time Job by Reducing the stress by creating a balanced home life. Many teens take on too many responsibilities, and work can add to that stress. Be sure that your teen, and you, are ready for the changes that may happen occur when they start working. In the beginning, they might struggle to complete school work. They may have to give up social and leisure activities. Help your teen set realistic expectations while they settle into a work routine.
Another way to Prepare a Teenager with Special Needs for a Part Time Job is to be supportive. You are the type of parent who researches and reads blogs! You want what is best for your kid! Help your teenager feel that support for their new career endeavors. Encourage them in their pursuit of independence. Help them focus on the benefits of a job if things get tough. Stay positive and avoid overstating the challenges.
Listen to their concerns, but try to help them come up with their own solutions. Above all else, give it time. Your teenager might not be successful in the workforce right away, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t ready for a job. They need to adjust to the new challenges they are facing, and so do you.
How to Prepare a Teen with Special Needs for a Part Time Job
Your teenager getting a job might be a terrifying notion, but the pros outweigh the cons. Working will give your teen confidence in their capabilities, new life skills, and independence. You may face challenges during this time, but you can overcome them with the right support. Sign up for Alicia’s Autism Parent Coaching Package for the skills you and your teen need to be successful.