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Preparing for Employment and Careers for Intellectually Disabled Students

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/11/2012

Employment is a big step for children with intellectual disabilities. This article describes the curriculum and process for employment preparation for students with intellectual disabilities.

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    Why Employment Preparation?

    Children with intellectual disabilities may not be able to go through the regular educational system that prepares them for careers and jobs. They may not be able to cope with high school or college.

    School always provides a very fun and supportive environment for a child. At school, teachers accept the child’s work, and always appreciate them for it, irrespective of how good it actually is. Special children especially are given a lot of space and are allowed to do what is comfortable for them. This is great for a special child; however, this means that they need additional training to be able to integrate into regular work. This is why it is important for children to be a part of pre-vocational training before they are ready for employment.

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    Areas of Preparation

    Some of the aspects that are covered in employment preparation for students with intellectual disabilities are:

    Functional Literacy:

    Children may require training in basic literacy. Sight reading, identifying their name and writing it, identifying and writing their address are some of the tasks.

    Functional Math:

    Children will require training in simple calculations, use of a calculator, counting, sorting, arranging in numerical order etc. Skills in weighing, and measuring are also very useful.

    Work behaviors:

    Children will require training in producing neat and quality work, punctuality and regularity, reporting once a task is completed, correct use and maintenance of tools and other materials. They also need to know and learn about the behavior that is expected at the workplace.

    Social skills:

    Children will need to learn to relate to their supervisor and colleagues, ask and answer questions and build relationships with others. In addition, the child must be taught to accept criticism from the supervisor and to express frustration in an acceptable way.

    Exposure to different occupations and work tasks:

    While preparing for employment, the child must be exposed to a variety of work tasks. This will help teachers and family to understand more about the aptitude and skills of the child.

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    Steps to Integrate Into Employment

    Employment is a huge change for a child with an intellectual disability, and a child needs to be prepared for it physically, mentally as well as emotionally. A lot of encouragement and psychological support is required at this time. Discussions with the child, teachers, parents and other professionals will help choose the right type of employment for the child.You can also use special curriculums to train and teach children.

    Another important aspect is good communication with the future employer. If the employer can understand the needs, strengths and weaknesses of the child, it will help the child have a positive experience at work. Even after starting work, regular follow up and discussions with the child and the employer will help the child be successful at work.

    Teachers and parents have an important role to play in employment preparation for students with intellectual disabilities. Devoting six months to two years to this task, will help a child comfortably integrate into regular work.