8 Vocational Activities for Autistic Students

8 Vocational Activities for Autistic Students

In this post you will learn about vocational activities you can do to help your students learn valuable job skills.

Vocational activities can make all the difference for people on the spectrum. They prepare autistic students for life post-graduation, help them choose a career path, and help them professionally use their functional life skills.

If you’re wondering what activities to choose and approaches to take while training an autistic student vocationally, I’m here to help!

I’ll give you a list of activities you can try with your students to prepare them for their careers, so follow along!

What Are Vocational Activities?

Vocational activities are tasks meant to prepare students for their careers after graduation. They’re primarily associated with hands-on jobs.

While all students can benefit from vocational activities, autistic students, in particular, need them because they naturally struggle more with the expectations of a working environment. If you are looking for help with writing vocational goals you can check out this post.

8 Vocational Activities for Autistic Students

Here’s a list of vocational activities you can attempt with your autistic students to prepare them for a successful career! If you are looking for ready-made resources already done for you, check out the Work Etiquette Task Cards Bundle Here!

Job Application

Most jobs nowadays require applications before getting employed, including hands-on ones. That's why training your student to complete a job application correctly is a monumental step to guarantee acceptance in future jobs.

For the activity, you can prepare a fake job application and encourage them to correctly fill out all their personal details. Then, go over the applications and highlight points for improvement. You can repeat the activity as many times as needed to reach the desired result.

Writing Resumes

Another important vocational activity for students on the spectrum is writing a resume. While it’ll be challenging at first for the students to write their information in a presentable manner, it’ll help organize their thoughts.

Ideally, you should help them recognize the most sought-after skills in the work field and include them in the resume.

For this activity, you can encourage your students to write their skills, education, strength points, and hobbies on a piece of paper. Then, give them a paper with the layout of a resume, and tell them to fill it using the information they just laid out on the other paper.

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Job Interview

The biggest challenge that autistic students face while joining the workforce is communicating correctly with people outside their comfort zone. That’s why a job interview can be a tall order for someone who hasn’t trained enough for it.

To try this activity, encourage your student to dress formally and prepare their resume beforehand. Then, interview them while asking generic questions about their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes for the job, and more.

Public Transportation

Starting a career for autistic students means moving independently, which requires public transportation. Since it’s something every student faces, I couldn’t make this list without including it as an essential vocational activity.

The activity can be as simple as teaching your student to read bus schedules or as detailed as taking them out to ride it in person. You should also boost their awareness about safety measures in public and how much transportation costs to and from their workplace daily.

Reading Maps

A fair share of everyday life situations includes using a road map. Suppose your student misses the bus and has to take a different route to work. Also, some jobs involve moving a lot, like delivery personnel. That’s why map reading is an essential skill to have, and you can easily incorporate it into your student’s vocational training.

For the activity, you can take your students out on a field day. Print maps of the neighborhood you’re in, mark where you’re standing and where you’re going, and hand them out to your students.

Then, encourage your students to go to the marked place by reading the map. Of course, they won’t get it right the first time. However, with your help, they can ace it before they’re employed.

Sending Mail

Nowadays, all jobs use mail to communicate important news, be it the acceptance of the job, structural changes to the company, or others. Sometimes, autistic people might be asked to send emails in response to their employers, which is an important skill to learn.

As part of your vocational training program, you can teach your students how to send professional emails with the appropriate response. You can act as their employer and send them emails, then wait for their responses.

Sorting Items

Many hands-on jobs include sorting items according to sensory processing, like folding clothes, arranging stationery, and more. Luckily, training your students to sort items is an easy activity you can attempt quickly with minimal materials.

All you have to do is provide items that are widely available in your home or workplace, like pens, pencils, and erasers. Then, put all of them in a large box and shake it so that the items mix together.

Give your students smaller boxes and tell them to sort the items separately, then leave them for a few minutes until they attempt it.

Addressing Envelopes

The last vocational activity I’ll discuss is envelope addressing. Although snail mail took a huge step back because of the rise of emails, it’s still used by many employers in various fields. 

Ideally, you should train your autistic students to address and send envelopes to different people. This way, if they work in a place that works by snail mail, they won’t face a communication issue.

For this activity, hand out formatted envelopes to your students, and encourage them to write the delivery address and the return address, then add the stamp.

Vocational Activities for Autistic Students

To Wrap Up

Vocational activities prepare autistic students for joining the workforce, and they can be easy to organize. All you have to do is check the above list, choose the activity that appeals to you and your students’ needs the most, and get to work!

Additional Vocational Skills Resources you will Love

Vocational Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Promote Emotional Self-Regulation Among Autistic Teens and Young Adults

How to Promote Emotional Self-Regulation Among Autistic Teens and Young Adults

In this post you will learn helpful strategies for encouraging emotional self-regulation in autistic teens and young adults to improve their well-being and daily functioning.

Traversing the complex world of emotions requires self-regulation. However, young adults on the autism spectrum take a unique approach to controlling their sensory input, regulating emotions in a capacity different from others. 

As a parent or caregiver, you must understand the unique experiences and needs of an autistic teen to build an effective support system. 

To help you, I’ll discuss the value of focused interventions and approaches when addressing such demands. I’ll also explore evidence-based strategies and helpful tools that support emotional self-regulation in this demographic. 

Understanding Emotional Self-Regulation in Autism 

Self-regulation is essential in autism because it can help people overcome their daily difficulties. It requires mental, emotional, and behavioral control to support flexibility and well-being. 

We can empower young adults to thrive and realize their full potential by understanding emotional regulation in autism and helping them self-regulate. 

What Is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation refers to the ​ability to control emotions and behaviors​, which helps people adapt and fulfill the demands of various situations. 

It is particularly relevant for people with autism, as it helps them manage sensory sensitivity, emotional fluctuations, and social interactions. It entails identifying internal states, using tactics to modify them, and adjusting behavior.  

Common Self-Regulation Difficulties Faced by Autistic Individuals

As a parent or caretaker, you may identify behavioral patterns in your autistic teens that point to problems with self-control. 

These actions could include meltdowns or tantrums due to sensory overload and struggles in switching between tasks. They could also be impulsivity or acting without carefully considering the consequences or difficulty regulating anger or frustration. 

For some people, a crowded place with loud noises can be overstimulating, whereas, for others, a shift in their usual patterns or daily activities may result in emotional dysregulation. 

Social interactions can be tough. Challenges with self-regulation can include the inability to read nonverbal cues or acting without thinking about the implications.

Impact of Self-Regulation on the Independence and Quality of Life

What may seem like a basic skill plays a transformative role in enhancing the well-being and independence of autistic children. 

Besides promoting independence and autonomy, self-regulation positively impacts their daily activities, social relationships, mental health, problem-solving, and decision-making. 

Young adults who are in control of their emotions, behaviors, and sensory sensitivity can live comfortably, form meaningful relationships, and constructively cope with their feelings. 

These benefits help teens make thoughtful decisions and develop the self-assurance to achieve personal goals. 

Strategies for Effective Self-Regulation 

Young adults must have a fundamental grasp of emotions and functional life skills to develop self-regulation abilities. These abilities include distinguishing between various emotions and how each feeling appears both externally and internally.  

Effective self-regulation strategies are essential tools for developing this foundation. They work in real-world situations and can help improve self-awareness, emotional control, and impulse management. 


Co-regulation from a loving and trustworthy parent or caregiver can do wonders for an autistic child or young adult. The adults must stay calm and reinforce the self-regulatory exercises through example, serving as role models. 

You can help your teens regulate their overwhelming emotions through emotional support and demonstrations of regulation techniques. Focus on their needs. Provide guidance at the right time and help them develop effective regulation skills. 

Provide Sensory Support 

Catering the sensory sensitivities of your teens or kids can have a huge impact on their development. 

Create a relaxing and sensory-friendly environment for your teens. Make it a place where they can thrive and explore their potential. 

Sensory support can be providing noise-canceling earphones if you live in a noisy neighborhood and playing their preferred music. It can also be offering fidget toys or other sensory tools to increase focus and self-regulation.

You can also use smartwatches as a sensory tool if they have sensory tracking and calming apps with features that can help people regulate their emotions. 

Use of Visual Support

Some people learn new information easier with visual aid. If your teens are the same, use visual support such as social stories, visual cues, flashcards, and practical demonstrations when teaching them self-regulation. 

Visual support will help them understand expectations and social protocols better. For example, emotion charts can depict different levels of emotions, helping your teens identify how they feel in certain situations.

Communicate Clearly 

Giving direct instructions and leaving no room for confusion is crucial in self-regulation. Make sure you don’t confuse your teens when you ask them to do tasks. The best way to do this is to simplify your language when communicating with them. 

Reduce the number of directions and break it down into manageable steps. Also, remember to keep your tone calm and understanding. 

Do Calming Activities 

When confronted with an outburst or an intrusive situation, teens and young adults with autism could benefit from soothing activities. 

Deep breathing exercises and calming activities are all beneficial under trying circumstances. These acts can distract teens from the issue and help them relax. 

Let your teens decide which calming activity they prefer, and help them practice it regularly. Soothing activities can be anything from using stress-relief items like a fidget spinner or stress ball to listening to music.

Engage in Physical Activities 

Many sports require team coordination and high-level communication, which might not be an autistic young adult’s strong suit. However, regular exercise, such as yoga or dancing, can help release tension.  

Swimming is a great sport for autistic teens because it involves water play and fundamental strokes. Such activities can improve self-control, increase bodily awareness, and release endorphins, improving their mood. 


Providing for the needs of autistic teenagers and young adults can be challenging and overwhelming. But remember that it’s normal to feel that way. It doesn’t devalue who you are as a person or parent. 

Be patient. Remember that you have been blessed with a child with needs that are a bit different from others, and you must adjust accordingly. Help them self-regulate to improve their overall well-being.

self regulation autism
5 Engaging and Meaningful Activities for Autistic Adults

5 Engaging and Meaningful Activities for Autistic Adults

Are you searching for fun activities for autistic adults to establish a new routine, promote sensory and processing abilities, and learn life skills?

If the answer’s yes, then this guide is for you. 

Encouraging adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to engage in educational, recreational, and social activities will have lasting benefits. In other words, these activities aim to help autistic adults lead a whole and more fulfilling life. 

So, for those interested in learning specific autism-friendly activities, make sure you check below.

Why Activities and Hobbies are Important

To maintain overall physical and mental wellness, you need to have adequate activities and hobbies. That applies to all people.

Through music, dancing, cooking, and even walking, autistic adults will experience an increased quality of life. It’s important to know that activities don’t stop at a certain age. On the contrary, they should be constantly promoted.

Hence, through activities, autistic adults will have a chance to:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Increase independence
  • Feel joy and fulfillment
  • Promote fine motor skills
  • Feel accepted as a member of the community 

However, it's crucial to plan all activities according to the interests, abilities, and strengths of the adult. So, let’s jump to it. 

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5 Fun but Practical Activities for Autistic Adults

1. Music Classes

Music is a broad medium that surpasses all abilities and disabilities. And considering that sound, or, in this case, music, is a primary human response, many autistic adults have a positive reaction to it.  

Through music activities – repeating particular rhythmic patterns, repeating the melody, trying to remember a song, and eventually playing an instrument with or without someone – you’ll address behavioral, sensory-motor, social, communicative, physical, psychological, and cognitive functioning.

What's great about music is that you can adapt all the activities related to it to meet the needs of each individual since sound is flexible and malleable. 

The most common musical instruments used for autism are percussion instruments, ukulele, keyboard/piano, and guitar. 

2. Dance Classes

The aim of each dance is to raise awareness of body movement so that you can communicate through that movement. Note that the only universal language is the one transmitted through our bodies and moving patterns. 

Therefore, your goal is to join the moving pattern of the autistic individual through dance therapy or any dance-related activities so you can then modify, improve and grow that pattern. In other words, you’re communicating with them by moving with them. 

And, there’s no need to say that you’re improving sensory-motor skills, or in other words, increasing body awareness in the process. 

3. Arts and Crafts

A great tool for nonverbal expression is art. Painting, drawing, building, assembling, sculpting, and writing are therapeutic, calming, and, most of all, fun.

Autistic adults will have the opportunity to explore different mediums and learn how to express themselves by using those mediums. Art and autism complete each other, and by creating any piece of art, the person will improve his motor skills, increase self-esteem, develop social skills, and fulfill sensory needs.

Here are some fun arts and crafts ideas: 

  • Finger painting
  • Sensory bottles
  • Bubble wrap abstract painting
  • Sand art projects

4. Outdoor Activities/Sports

You don’t have to go to fancy gyms or sports halls; a simple walk in the park or the neighborhood can also do wonders for adults.

Spending time outdoors is healthy for both the mind and body, so it’s crucial to have regular outdoor recreational activities (adapted to the person's abilities). It’ll improve the person’s mood and help improve their attention span and motor skills. 

All the following activities are a great way to spend time with the autistic adult in your life:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Gardening

If we’re talking about a group of autistic adults, you can prepare simple obstacle games. They would need to interact with each other and be active all the time during the activity.

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5. Cooking

Cooking activities are not only fun, interactive, and great for bonding but also essential for life in general.

Learning how to cook is fundamental to life. And, when you’re preparing the food together, you’re giving the autistic adult a sense of teamwork and connection. 

Before you start cooking or baking, make sure you’ve got the right recipe. Choose according to the autistic individual because they can be quite picky when it comes to the smell and texture of the food. 

Easy and quick meals would be:

  • Pancakes
  • Gluten-free pizzas
  • Smoothies
  • Sandwiches
  • Homemade chicken nuggets
  • Sugar-free blueberry muffins

Helping Learn New Skills

Helping autistic adults learn new challenges and skills is not an easy task, but through certain activities, the process of learning can become, if not easier, more fun. 

The most important thing is to create a safe and supportive environment where autistic individuals have the freedom to engage. Try various activities, be creative, and pay attention to what the autistic adult finds most pleasing. And most of all, enjoy!

Let me know if you try any of these activities for autistic adults, and if you have more interesting ideas, don't hesitate to share them with me.

Benefits of Life Skills to Help Improve your Quality of Life

Benefits of Life Skills to Help Improve your Quality of Life

In this post you will learn about the benefits of life skills and how they can improve your quality of life.

Life skills are a cornerstone in today’s fast-paced world. They enable us to manage and accomplish complex tasks in many settings and navigate our personal and professional lives effectively. Since they impact every aspect of our lives, it’s best to develop them to ensure a happy and productive life.

In this article, we’ll tell you what life skills are, how they impact everyday life, and how to develop them. So, read on to learn more!

Understanding Life Skills

The term ‘Life Skills' refers to the skills you need to make the most out of life. Any skill that is useful in your life can be considered a life skill.

Life skills can be functional abilities individuals use to navigate their daily lives. These skills can refer to passive skills, such as self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, and resilience, and active skills, such as goal-setting, communication, organization, and time management.

Why Is It Important to Develop Life Skills?

It should be your mission to hone your life skills, as they’ll help you overcome any challenge you face in your everyday life. Let’s explain the impact they have on three main fields to give you a better picture of what we’re talking about.

Personal Development

Developing your skills will help you become more self-aware, resilient, and a better communicator and decision-maker.

For example, developing self-discipline, focus, open-mindedness, and self-attribution will help you become more self-aware. This allows you to make informed decisions, take actions that align with your values, and understand their impact on yourself and others.

Similarly, developing your empathy, communication, and listening skills will enable you to communicate more effectively, maintain healthy relationships, express yourself more confidently, and set proper boundaries with others.

Finally, skills such as patience, anger, stress, and money management help you become more adaptable and flexible to challenges. This way, you’ll remain motivated and continue striving for what you want, ensuring your success and happiness.

Benefits of life skills

Professional Development

Some key professional skills, including critical thinking, teamwork, organizing, planning, and communication, will help you thrive professionally. 

For example, hard work, perseverance, excellent communication skills, and punctuality make you a desirable employee to many employers. By developing them, you’ll have better chances of landing a job you’re interested in.

Again, by developing your empathy, leadership, and management skills, you can become an outstanding leader to your co-workers and successfully carry out any managerial duties, whether you’re an employee or a business owner.

Finally, professional lives revolve around teamwork and collaboration. Most of the time, you’ll be working alongside many individuals to carry out everyday tasks. Having great teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills will help smooth out any potential frustrations and ensure a hassle-free work experience.

Social Development

Having healthy social relationships with others directly affects your mental health. You can potentially jeopardize your standing with others if you skimp out on important social skills, such as empathy, listening, compromising, and caring.

Developing these skills will help you understand yourself better and ensure deeper and more meaningful relationships with your family, friends, and partners. These skills also extend to your standing in society since you’ll be able to find your purpose and contribute to your community further.

You can get your Free Life Skills Checklist to Help Autistic Teens Transition into Adulthood

You can get your free life skills checklist to help autistic teens transition into adulthood and help improve their quality of life. Just CLICK HERE to get your free life skills checklist, or click on the image below.

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How Can I Develop Life Skills?

There are countless ways to develop life skills. Initially, you need to learn what skills you want to improve and acquire. This will allow you to plan accordingly and set realistic goals. It’s best to break down your tasks to improve a skill into smaller, more manageable steps to not get overwhelmed.

Read and Watch

One way to go about learning life skills is by reading or watching videos about them. You can check articles, books, websites, and blogs. They contain a great deal of information about a large selection of skills. Nowadays, it’s easy to learn something as difficult as playing an instrument by following online courses!

Attend Workshops and Communicate

However, you’re not limited to teaching yourself. Some life skills, such as anger and stress management, are best improved through workshops and group gatherings that help you learn more about yourself and express yourself better. 

Practice and Seek Feedback

Another piece of advice: the best way to develop life skills is to practice them regularly. Stepping out of your comfort zone, although terrifying at first, will help you build self-confidence and overcome your fears. You should also seek feedback as much as possible from knowledgeable others or relevant people to monitor your progress.

Be Patient

Developing your life skills is a lengthy process, so be patient! Don’t expect to become great at something you struggle with after reading a single article or book – it takes months, if not years, of practice!


Life skills play an important role in enabling us to navigate the challenges we face in everyday life, whether in a professional, social, or academic context. It should be your mission to improve your life skills to lead a happy and fulfilling life!

Our Best Functional Life Skills cover the most critical skills everyone should have, so check it out!

Similarly, our Social Skills for Teens guide covers many skills necessary to improve your relationships with others!

Vocational Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Vocational Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing what you want to be when you grow up is confusing as you transition into adulthood, but it could be really challenging for autistic individuals.

Conceptualizing how different life skills are adjusted to new environments and applications often may not come naturally for autistic individuals. It’s could also be difficult for them to translate skills, interests, and aspirations into conceivable goals and professions.

That’s where vocational goals come in. As a special education professional, understanding the nuances of vocational goal setting and the communication around it is crucial for your success in that area.

Oftentimes, the family or caregivers of autistic teens and young adults may not be able to help or even visualize their family members entering the workforce. This can hinder their ability to support them through this transition without a game plan.

What Are Vocational Goals?

Vocational goals are goals created to help people achieve employability in careers that are consistent with their abilities, interests, limitations, and aspirations.

Vocational goals could include skills needed to find a job, maintain a job, or perform specific tasks required for the job. This could include anything from interviewing skills to following a bus schedule or practicing routine tasks. Like any other IEP goal, vocational goals must be age appropriate and measurable.

While this is a general term that can benefit everyone, it’s integral for the success of people with mental health conditions, such as autism and ADHD.

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Learn more about the Neurodivergent Life Skills Toolbox Here

Why Are Vocational Goals Important for People on the Spectrum?

The reality of autism poses some unique challenges in setting vocational goals.

Most young adults often have inaccurate expectations of what work entails. However, young adults on the spectrum may sometimes be very competent in tasks related to the job itself and instead struggle with social interactions or expectations within the work environment.

Some simple examples of that are maintaining the appropriate tone of voice or volume, receiving instructions, and managing negative stimuli.

Vocational Goals Examples for Allistic vs. Autistic People

First I just want to clarify Allistic simply means a non autistic person.

There’s nothing inherently allistic or autistic about any given life skill. However, how tasks and goals are phrased and evaluated is often where most autistic individuals struggle.

While unclear instructions are generally problematic for most workers, their effect is almost negligible on an allistic individual compared to how that may affect someone on the spectrum.

They may also not address granular life skills that don’t come naturally to autistic individuals. So how you choose to create these goals can make or break your students’ chances.

Here are some examples where you can see how a vocational goal can be made differently:

Allistic-Appropriate GoalAutistic Appropriate Goal
Manage stress from long commutesTransfer from one bus to another safely and calmly
Be an effective member of the teamDiscriminate between personal and general information.
Have constructive and healthy relationships with your coworkersIdentify the core differences between familial and work relationships.

Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Vocational Goals for Autistic Students

Setting vocational goals relies almost entirely on the age as well as the level of the individual you’re working with.

These steps will give you an overview of how to approach vocational goals for autism, but they’re far from comprehensive.

1. Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, and Limitations

The first and perhaps the most tricky step is to assess where your student is right now vs. where they need to be by the time they graduate.

This is tricky because there’s a lot more to an autistic individual’s strengths and weaknesses than what meets the eye.

For example, a child who is gifted with art may not necessarily thrive in a creative job because the motivation to create art has become external rather than a means of self-expression. 

So when you examine a student’s strengths, you have to put into consideration the limitations of these strengths to achieve longevity. 

The same goes for weaknesses. Just because they’re currently not comfortable dealing with strangers, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be excellent when dealing with customers after receiving adequate support and a clear-cut process for dealing with them.

You can learn more about vocational assessments here at A Day in Our Shoes.

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2. Discuss Values, Interests, and Future Goals

This step depends on whether your student is at the appropriate age and level to discuss abstract concepts such as values, compatibility, and aspirations. If not, then you’ll need to work your way there first.

Either way, you’ll need to consult with their family to choose the direction and priorities of your plan. Is post-graduation financial support a problem? Do they have a family business that can help them transition gradually to a completely new environment?

3. Create SMART Goals

It’s hard to go wrong with SMART goals because they break down an objective into its most comprehensible format. If you can’t seem to fulfill these criteria, then this objective may be counterproductive for your student.

  • Specific: As mentioned above, make sure that the goal and all the exercises surrounding it have as little room as possible for the need for personal interpretation and keep it narrow to avoid overwhelming them.
  • Measurable: Make your goal as quantifiable as possible. Create a small checklist of all the requirements for a given task to be considered a success. 
  • Attainable: Make sure each goal is a gradual progression from where your student’s life skills are at now. 
  • Relevant: Hone in on the most crucial skills before refining the details. For example, the ability to receive criticism is of secondary importance when your student isn’t yet able to receive instructions.
  • Time-bound: Finally, set the frequency with which you’ll be practicing and assessing this life skill so that you’ll build on your progress without pressuring your student beyond their capacity.

Vocational Goal Topics

  1. Career exploration: Assist the student in exploring various career options and identifying areas of interest and strength. This may include informational interviews, job shadowing, and career assessments.
  2. Vocational training: Provide the student with vocational training to develop specific skills required in a particular occupation or industry, such as welding, nursing, or graphic design.
  3. Internships and work-based learning: Facilitate opportunities for the student to participate in internships, work-based learning experiences, or apprenticeships to develop practical skills and gain work experience.
  4. Job readiness skills: Help the student develop job readiness skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and organizational skills.
  5. Job placement: Assist the student in finding and securing employment in a specific industry or occupation.
  6. Accommodations and supports: Identify and provide accommodations and supports to the student that will enable them to be successful in the workplace, such as assistive technology, job coaching, or specialized training.
  7. Career advancement: Support the student in developing a career plan that includes goals for career advancement, such as earning promotions, additional certifications or degrees, or transitioning to a different career.
  8. Self-advocacy: Help the student develop self-advocacy skills that will enable them to communicate effectively with employers and colleagues, request accommodations or modifications as needed, and navigate workplace challenges.

These are just a few examples of vocational goal topics that could be included in an IEP. The specific goals and objectives will depend on the student's individual needs, strengths, interests, and career aspirations.

job tasks: vocational goals

Vocational Goals Examples with Job Tasks

It is important to note that job tasks for special education students should be individualized to the student's strengths, interests, and abilities, and should be based on the goals outlined in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, here are some examples of job tasks that may be appropriate for special education students:

  1. Sorting and organizing materials: This may include sorting files, paperwork, or other materials in an office setting, or organizing inventory in a retail or warehouse setting.
  2. Cleaning and maintenance: This may include cleaning tables and surfaces, sweeping or mopping floors, or performing basic maintenance tasks such as changing light bulbs or restocking supplies.
  3. Assisting customers or clients: This may include greeting customers, answering basic questions, or providing basic customer service in a retail or service setting.
  4. Food preparation and service: This may include preparing simple meals or snacks, serving food to customers or clients, or cleaning up after meals.
  5. Data entry or basic computer tasks: This may include entering data into a computer system, typing up documents or reports, or performing other basic computer tasks.
  6. Packaging and assembly: This may include packaging products or components, assembling products or parts, or performing quality control checks on products.
  7. Landscaping or groundskeeping: This may include planting and maintaining gardens, mowing lawns, or performing other basic landscaping tasks.
  8. Basic office tasks: This may include answering phones, filing paperwork, or performing other basic tasks in an office setting.
  9. Personal information: This could include the ability to share personal information appropriately such as writing down name, address, phone number, emergency contact, etc.

Again, it is important to individualize job tasks for each special education student based on their needs and goals. These are just some examples of tasks that may be appropriate for some students.

Now I want to break these goals ideas down even farther so you can see the specific skill areas you can work towards.

Sorting and Organizing Materials

  1. Sort sizes of things
  2. Sort colors of things
  3. Fold laundry
  4. Hang Clothing
  5. Match items
  6. Sort files/paperwork
  7. Read labels and put things back where they belong
  8. knows how to put away dishes
  9. organize food items in a pantry/cupboard
sorting and organizing: vocational goals

Cleaning and Maintenance

  1. Wipe down the counter/table
  2. throwing away/sorting trash/recyclables
  3. Using a hammer or screwdriver for simple fixes
  4. Wash dishes
  5. wash and dry clothing
  6. Put away cleaning supples
  7. vaccumm
  8. mop or sweep the floor
  9. Clean up a spill on the floor
  10. Organizing and re-stocking the supply closet or pantry
cleaning tasks: vocational goals

Assisting Customers or Clients

  1. Answers the phone and can hold a conversation on the phone
  2. Can assist someone with using keyboard/typing to answer questions
  3. can redirect someone on the phone
  4. Can greet someone in person or on the phone
  5. Can answer specific questions about a specific topic (job task)
  6. Can answer specific questions about an item of interest or non interest

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Food Preparation and Service

  1. Fold napkins
  2. Put away silverware
  3. Put dishes away
  4. Cut up fruits and vegetables
  5. Cut up meat
  6. prepare a simple meal
  7. prepare a simple snack
  8. Understands food safety
  9. can use a microwave
  10. can use a toaster
  11. can use an oven
  12. Can get a glass of water
  13. can make a grocery list
  14. can make a grocery budget
  15. can put the foods away in refrigerator, freezer, or pantry

Data Entry or Basic Computer Tasks

  1. Navigate computer browser
  2. Understand how to use the internet
  3. enter data into the computer program
  4. use a computer mouse
  5. type on a keyboard
  6. write a word document
  7. use a google sheets or excel document
  8. Can type on personal information on a questionnaire

Packaging and Assembly

  1. assemble a package of things
  2. can follow directions of what to put together
  3. can look at a picture and put those items together
  4. can read instructions and follow the directions

Landscaping or Groundskeeping

  1. can mow the grass
  2. dig up flowers
  3. water flowers
  4. water grass
  5. plant flowers
  6. plant a garden
  7. pull weeds

Basic Office Tasks

  1. Use a computer mouse
  2. Type on the keyboard
  3. Write out a list of items
  4. Make a copy using the copier
  5. staple items together
  6. sort/organize papers
  7. sign papers
  8. write a check
  9. fill out a receipt

Personal Information

  1. Writes and types name
  2. writes and types address
  3. writes and types phone number
  4. knows who to contact in an emergency
  5. knows their own allergies and medications they are taking for safety
  6. can state their emergency contact name and phone number

Get the Free Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Plan Below

Click HERE or the image below to get monthly life skills teaching ideas to save you time and to help you teach comprehensive life skills areas!

Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Planner

Soft Skills that can be Important for a Variety of Job Tasks

  1. Communication: The ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, with colleagues, customers, and supervisors is critical.
  2. Teamwork: Collaboration and the ability to work effectively with others is important in almost every workplace.
  3. Problem-solving: The ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems is essential in many job roles.
  4. Adaptability: Being able to adjust to changing circumstances and learn new skills and procedures is important in today's fast-paced work environments.
  5. Leadership: The ability to motivate, guide, and inspire others is valued in many organizations.
  6. Time management: Being able to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage time effectively is important in many job roles.
  7. Attention to detail: Being detail-oriented and able to spot errors or inconsistencies is important in jobs where accuracy is critical.
  8. Emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing one's own emotions, as well as recognizing and responding appropriately to the emotions of others, is important in any workplace.
  9. Positive attitude: Maintaining a positive outlook and being enthusiastic and motivated can help one succeed in any job.
  10. Conflict resolution: The ability to resolve conflicts or disagreements in a professional and constructive manner is important for maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and clients.

These are just a few examples of soft skills that are important for success in many different job roles. The specific skills required may vary depending on the industry, the job, and the organization.

vocational goals: filling out resume

Additional Specific Vocational Goals Examples

  1. Identify personal strengths
  2. Be able to answer a verbal question interview
  3. Be able to be on time
  4. Identify time on a daily schedule
  5. Identifies job schedule
  6. can ask for letters of reference
  7. can write a resume
  8. can identify reasonable places to work
  9. can identify preferences/interests
  10. can fill out a job application

These are just a few additional specific vocational goal examples for you to add to your toolbox.

Final Thoughts

As you gain more experience with setting vocational goals, you’ll get better at catering to the specific needs of each individual.

You should also set your expectations as well as those of your students and their families. Make sure to always include the student's input and needs first. Work with the student and the family together to come up with a plan to help them transition into adulthood.

Additional Life Skills Resources you Will Enjoy

The Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Autistic Individuals

vocational goals
Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

In this post you will learn about independent functioning IEP goals and how you can write them to save you time.

Independent living is one of the major outcomes of an IEP. So, preparing for it should ideally start from earlier education levels and working on these skills throughout their education.

That said, independent functioning IEP goals might look different for different students, depending on the student’s abilities, age, and what their caretakers are focused on. 

Working with the school district and the student’s guardians should help you choose what independent functioning skills to add to your IEP goals. So here are some examples with various goals to help you and save you time.

Templates for IEP Goals

If your school district doesn’t specify a template for IEP goals, it could get a bit challenging to find one that’s both versatile and all-encompassing. Here are a couple I found helpful that include most parameters you should include in your goal development:

  • By (insert date), given (number & type of) prompts, (the student) will (accomplish goal), in (number/percentage of) trials over (number of) consecutive (days, weeks, or months) as measured by (testing methodology).
  • Given (accommodations, prompts), (the student) will (accomplish goal) in (conditions, setting), (to what extent) by (a certain date) as evaluated by (evaluation methodology).
Neurodivergent Life Skills membership

Examples of Independent Functioning IEP Goals

The skills needed to live and function independently are widely varied and include many subcategories. For the sake of being thorough, I’ve divided them into goal clusters that should cover most bases and give you ideas to add more goals as you see fit.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Nutrition Goals

  1. Hold and use a utensil correctly.
  2. Put an appropriate bite of food on the utensil and eat it.
  3. Chew the food adequately with the mouth closed.
  4. Try new flavor combinations.
  5. Wait for the food to cool and take small bites.
  6. Identify different food courses and savory/sweet foods that go in each one.
  7. Clear the table at home and put used plates and utensils in the sink.
  8. Wash hands before and after eating.
  9. Pack away leftover food before refrigerating.
  10. Pass around food and utensils at large gatherings.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Hygiene and Grooming Goals

  1. Correctly identify body parts (by pointing at them).
  2. Identify tools for personal hygiene (hairbrush, toothbrush, soap, tap, bath, washcloth)
  3. Wash the face every morning.
  4. Brush teeth after every meal.
  5. Swish water or mouthwash without swallowing.
  6. Floss teeth (with regular floss or floss pick).
  7. Differentiate between hygiene products and household cleaning products.
  8. Use the bathtub to clean the body.
  9. Brush and style hair (curl, straighten, or use styling products)
  10. Apply deodorant thoroughly (roll-on or stick)
  11. Ask to use the restroom when needed and reply yes/no when asked.
  12. Follow a restroom use routine.
  13. Identify the correct restroom stall.
  14. Close the stall door.
  15. Adjust clothing before and after restroom use.
  16. Use toilet paper correctly.
  17. Flush the toilet correctly.
  18. Wash hands after using the toilet.

For more personal hygiene strategies, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Dressing Goals

  1. Identify the correct orientation of clothing (front, back, inside, and out).
  2. Learn how to put on underwear (boxers, briefs, bras, and undershirts).
  3. Learn how to put different tops on and off (T-shirts, shirts, and jackets).
  4. Learn how different bottoms go on and off (jeans, pants, and sweatpants).
  5. Learn how different shoes are fastened (velcro, tie, and slip-on).
  6. Identify season-appropriate clothing and how to tell the weather outside.
  7. Identify the correct personal clothing and shoe size when shopping. 
  8. Learn about accessories.
  9. Loop belts through pants and buckle them.
  10. Choose handbags or purses.
  11. Pick out jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces).
  12. Learn how to take off accessories and store them after wear.
  13. Dress oneself fully.
  14. Learn about dressing for an occasion (work, dinner, a casual get-together, etc.).
  15. Choose an outfit independently.
  16. Change into the correct outfit when it’s time to go out.

For more dressing strategies, click here.

Get the FREE Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Planner full of Life Skills Ideas!

Click HERE or the image below to get the free life skills year-at-a-glance curriculum teaching ideas!

Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Planner

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Safety Goals

  1. Identify edible and inedible items around the house.
  2. Identify choking hazards in edible foods.
  3. Identify hazardous items around the house (sharp knives, hot iron, etc.).
  4. Participate in fire, earthquake, and lockdown drills.
  5. Follow directions from authority figures during drills.
  6. Dial 911 during personal emergencies only.
  7. Identify community workers and what they respond to. 
  8. Learn how to describe an emergency to a responder.
  9. Locate the fire extinguisher and learn how to operate it.
  10. Locate the first aid kit and learn how to use every item.
  11. Operate a cell phone.
  12. Locate or dial emergency contact numbers on the cell phone.
  13. Learn about boundaries with strangers.
  14. Learn to search for a trusted figure in uncomfortable situations.
  15. Learn when to answer the door when home alone and when not to. 
  16. Learn how to avoid or clear dangerous materials like cleaning chemical spills or broken glass.
  17. Learn what to place inside a microwave oven and what not to.
  18. Learn about expiry dates and how to dispose of spoiled food.
  19. Learn what to do when you finish cooking (turn off the stove and open a window).
  20. Learn what to do before leaving the house (close windows, blow out candles, and lock doors)

For kitchen safety resources, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Communication Goals

  1. Identify name, address, and social security number on written documents.
  2. Write name and address when needed.
  3. Identify different types of written documents, like bills, letters, etc.
  4. Use a computer for written tasks.
  5. Use a web browser to access the internet.
  6. Learn about internet safety and how to communicate with strangers on the internet.
  7. Operate a cell phone for phone calls.
  8. Use the internet to shop for items.
  9. Use the internet to pay bills.
  10. Use the features on a smartphone like texting and accessing the internet.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Miscellaneous Goals

  1. Identify different furniture for various uses around the house.
  2. Call a professional when something breaks around the house (a plumber for water leaks, an electrician for broken light fixtures, etc.).
  3. Care for houseplants.
  4. Care for a pet.
  5. Keep the house in order (cleaning, tidying up, and doing laundry).
  6. Operate small appliances in the kitchen (blender, hand mixer, microwave oven, etc.).
  7. Read labels to know what’s inside a container.
  8. Read price tags and labels to identify item prices.
  9. Use cash or a debit card to pay for purchased items.

Are You Looking for Additional Help and Strategies for Functional Life Skills?

Check out my new Functional Life Skills Toolkit. It includes step-by-step resources for task analysis and goal development for autistic children, teens, and young adults.

Other Functional Life Skills Resources for You

The Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Individuals with Autism

Breaking Barriers: Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

Executive Functioning Challenges with Task Initiation: Resources to Help Teach Life Skills

independent functioning IEP goals