Kids Must Learn Work Skills

At almost every autism conference, I have either a parent or a teacher say “he is 21, how do I get him to stop playing video games in the basement” or “he is 18 and he is in the bedroom for six hours a day playing games.” Many of these game addicts are not having good outcomes. Too many of them are ending up on social security and continue to play games all day.

In my generation, kids in middle school all had paper routes or other jobs. I remember geeks and nerds I went to school and college with, who would be labeled ASD(Autism Spectrum Disorder) today. My nerdy ASD classmates all got jobs and some own a business. In this article, I am writing about individuals who are all completely verbal and capable of doing normal school work in most subjects.

Paper Route Substitutes

Learning work skills needs to start in middle school. When I was thirteen, mother arranged a job for me doing hand sewing for a freelance seamstress. When I was fifteen I cleaned eight horse stalls every day and took care of the horses. There is a discipline and a responsibility to having a job. I was proud that I was in charge of the horse barn. Many parents may say – “but there are no paper routes today.” There are lots of ways to find paper route substitutes. Parents and teachers need to set up jobs for middle school and high school kids in the neighborhood. Below are some easy ideas for opportunities for kids to learn work skills. It is never too late to start. The same principles apply to older kids and young adults.

  1. The job should be outside the child’s home. Kids need to learn independence and responsibility.
  2. For kids under 16, volunteer jobs or jobs paid in cash work well. As soon as the child turns 16, he should get a job in the regular economy.

Jobs for younger kids:

  • Walking the dogs for neighbors
  • Setting up chairs at a church or community center
  • Working in a farmers market
  • Fixing computers and running virus scans for local people
  • Helping an independent business with office work
  • Volunteer tour guide at a museum. (Many museums will take 12-year olds)
  • Usher at church

Jobs for 16 and older:

  • Working at regular paid jobs such as grocery stores to learn the discipline of a job.
  • Apprenticeships in skilled trades. If available, take skilled trade jobs at school.

Jobs for college students:

  • When I was in college, I did career relevant internships. One summer I worked in a research lab and another I worked with severely autistic children. I continued to go to my aunt’s ranch where I took guests on horseback rides and did waiting on tables.

You have to stretch these kids just outside their comfort zone. Last Christmas, I took my first solo ride on the New York subway. Even I have to be willing to do new things on my own.

Temple Grandin
(with permission to reprint)

[Messenger October 2017 p.8]

For more information please contact Anne Brackley:
email or
phone 0407 529 205 – I’d love to hear from you.

An Autism-Friendly Community

Imagine a place where people with autism and their families eat at restaurants and feel welcome, employers embrace diversity. Advocates say placing individuals with autism alongside other team members helps to foster creativity and project innovation, libraries, parks, and museums open their doors to differences, shopping is a pleasant experience for all, and students know how to support their friend who acts differently than they do, (a new study finds that children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied nearly five times as often as their typically developing peers).

Individuals with autism and their families face discrimination, isolation and exclusion because of misperceptions about their behaviours and abilities. Let’s change that together!

Being Autism-Friendly means “being understanding and flexible in interpersonal conversation, public programs and public settings.” For someone on the autism spectrum, being in an autism-friendly environment means they will be have a manageable degree of sensory stimuli along with adaptions that help them engage their environment better; it also means interactions with others that are supportive and non-judgmental of differences, helping them better able to relate to others.

It’s a community that treats everyone with respect and dignity and values each person’s unique contribution by employing people with autism and other disabilities, structuring recreational activities so all can participate, providing appropriate and inclusive housing opportunities, supporting academic and social success in schools, and empowering people with autism and other disabilities to pursue their dreams.

What is the benefit to being Autism-Friendly?

Autism-Friendly places embrace neurodiversity, the concept that neurological differences are to be recognized and respected as any other human variation. Studies show that diversity enriches all aspects of a community’s life, including education, housing, cultural, and business opportunities. These aspects of a community’s life enhance economic strengths because we all win when everyone gets to share in our nation’s promises.

What do we do to become Autism-Friendly?

Through educational programs, training, and awareness activities, we will help the community understand how to identify, interact, adapt and support individuals with autism and their families.


[Messenger September 2017 p.21]

For more information please contact Anne Brackley:
email or
phone 0407 529 205 – I’d love to hear from you.