Volunteer Job

Some individuals with autism have full-time or part-time jobs, independently or with support. Some people pursue successful and thriving careers. But, for a variety of reasons, others are unable to hold a “regular” job. One option in this case is to pursue a career as a volunteer.

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Volunteer work has a number of advantages, not the least of which is life satisfaction. Volunteering also gives some structure to daily schedules, purpose to life, and opportunities to meet and interact with new people. Working as a volunteer gives a person opportunities to make connections with their extended community and to build on their repertoire of job-related skills. Over time, a person may be able to move from being a volunteer into a paying job as they develop new skills and make connections with potential employers through their volunteer efforts.

Sometimes we need to think creatively to find an appropriate volunteer “job,” but the benefits are worth the effort. A volunteer can lend a helping hand for as little as twenty minutes a week or as much as five hours s a day. Some of my friends help fold bulletins at church, file medical records at the clinic, run the vacuum cleaner at the day care, help deliver Meals on Wheels, or helping an elderly neighbor put clothes in and out of a washer and dryer. Volunteer opportunities can range from helping feed animals at a shelter to playing piano during lunchtime at a nursing home. Attention to detail helps some of our friends with autism excel at tasks such as inputting data, sorting papers or mail, putting library books on shelves, or filing records. Even individuals with very limited skills can help water plants, push a grocery basket, or put newspapers on the porch for their neighbors.

TIP FOR THE DAY. Keep a sharp eye for volunteer opportunities that match the skills and interests of your friends with autism. All of our lives are enriched when people are given a chance to lend a helping hand.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com 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 at talk@FAQautism.com 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. http://FAQautism.com

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