All children, with or without special needs, should be encouraged to learn skills that allow for a more fulfilling life.
With the passing tide of time, kids turn into adults. This typically involves the next stage of life: joining the workforce. Though earning money is an obvious motivation behind working, being employed also leads to independence, confidence building, opportunities for social interaction and satisfaction that comes from contributing to society.
Special needs children, just like any other young person, can be helped to develop skills for life after school. It may just require some extra attention and persistence.
Let’s explore a few important pre-vocational and vocational skills that children can develop for a better chance at gaining employment.
Pre-vocational skills equip children for entry into any kind of work. This type of learning usually comes before vocational or job-specific training. Below are some examples:
1# Ability to Follow Steps
A lot of work depends on remembering things and applying it in real life. We all have to learn new things. However, some things we take for granted can appear as real challenges for those with special needs. For example, tying shoelaces. The trick here is to help your child get used to digesting skills in a more manageable way—using a method called task analysis. This process involves breaking down a skill into tiny, clear steps and is often used in special education.
2# Time Management
In working life, tasks may pile up and priorities need to be set. Your child would do well with an understanding of what to tackle first, and how much time is roughly required to complete a task. Show your child how you plan your own chores, and guide your child through the art of scheduling by using materials like visual timetables.
3# Personal Hygiene
Knowing how to keep one’s self clean and smelling pleasant cannot be understated – especially if one is working with others. Children from a young age should have the chance to practice daily routines of self-care until it becomes second nature. Remember to explain why having good hygiene is essential to your kids, remind them to groom when they forget, and to cheer on any initiative to keep clean!
4# Healthy Attitude
A pleasant mindset and a willingness to do new things will make working much easier on your child. As a parent, you may help your child develop a more flexible approach to life by exposing him or her (slowly and in stages) to new activities. Don’t forget to give plenty of encouragement and praise when your child shows adaptability and positive thinking.
Vocational skills aid your child in getting a particular type of job – and then thrive in it. Examples are as follows:
1# Interview and Job Search Skills
Before getting work, one needs to find it. This involves knowing how to prepare a resume and where to send it to.
Those about to enter the workforce can be shown where to look for jobs (think dedicated job portals, government agencies or social media). Once the job seeker has sent out applications, interview invitations might start coming in. This is a whole other area that individuals can plan for. For instance, students may learn about typical questions asked during an interview and how to best answer those questions.
2# Social and Communication Skills
Companies need employees who are able to communicate clearly, listen well and be pleasant around others. Thankfully, people skills are teachable skills. As parents of children with special needs, we may show our children how to act appropriately with others through the use of social stories, demonstrating through our own actions, and gently correcting their undesirable behaviour when it is observed.
Once your child grows up and finds a line of work to go into, there may be specific communication skills that he or she can learn. For example, in an administrative setting, your child may need to know how to effectively communicate through email. If in the food and beverage industry, your child may need to know how to pleasantly greet people, take orders, and perhaps engage in small talk.
Helping Each Other
In Malaysia there are social enterprises, government initiatives and non-government organisations that offer vocational training and job placements for those with special needs. For example, Malaysian Care has a programme called Bridge2Work that readies youths with learning difficulties for employment.
There are also companies in the private sector, such as Uniqlo and AEON Group, that practice inclusive hiring. Remember, you aren’t alone. Do help your child by enabling appropriate education and by connecting with the community around you.
This article has been republished with permission from Kiddy123.
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