Job Coach

Every teenager needs some help learning the skills necessary for getting a job and keeping it. Teens and adults with autism may need more intense training in various aspects of job-readiness. Even the most capable person with autism may need help with some job component. A job coach is a good option in this case. They can assist with support and training of the long list of skills critical for successful employment.

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Personal responsibilities. Can your friend with autism wake up on time, take care of personal grooming, select appropriate clothing for the job, and get to work on time? While at work, can he take care of basic personal needs such as toileting, lunch and snacks, washing hands, and keeping track of personal items such as a backpack or nametag?

Attention span. Can the individual focus on the task at hand for an extended period of time? Can he continue working in the midst of distractions? Can he focus on the directions given by a boss or supervisor? Is he able to complete each step of a job sequence with minimal assistance? Can he understand and independently respond to safety drills?

Following instructions. Is the individual with autism generally compliant? Can he complete tasks with minimal assistance? Does he respond to supervision, or does he tend to resist instructions? If he has deficits in processing verbal instructions, can he be taught to use a visual schedule so employers and job coaches can successfully communicate the information he needs to complete a task or a job sequence?

Flexibility. The nature of autism causes some individuals to be intolerant to changes in routine. Is your friend able to tolerate change? Can he recognize and solve a problem if it arises? Does he know to ask appropriately for assistance when needed?

Teamwork. Does he work well with other people? Does he interact appropriately with his fellow workers? Is he overly friendly? Does he talk too much or otherwise interrupt the work of others?

TIP OF THE DAY. Do not wait until a person is an adult to start shaping critical job skills. Start now helping your friends with autism learn to be as self-reliant, focused, and cooperative as possible. If an individual needs the services of a job coach, help the job coach know to continue working on improving job skills so the person can become as independent as possible over time.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email to with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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