For autistic young adults, acquiring pre-vocational skills is vital for achieving independence and living a fulfilling life. As caregivers, you want to provide the best support, but finding the right resources can be very overwhelming.
Let me tell you about the importance of pre-vocational skills and give you practical strategies to support autistic students. I will also share eight essential pre-vocational skills that will help your teenager gain independence and self-reliance. Finally, I will introduce some tools to help you measure progress and keep track of your child’s pre-vocational life skill goals.
What Are Pre-Vocational Skills?
Pre-vocational skills are the abilities and knowledge you need to prepare for employment, job training, or further education. These skills are essential for people on the autism spectrum to achieve independence and succeed in the workplace.
To develop pre-vocational skills, you need to gain a range of abilities that help individuals perform job-related tasks like following directions, managing time effectively, and organizing their work.
For people with autism, acquiring pre-vocational skills can be especially challenging, as they may struggle with executive functioning, social skills, and sensory processing. However, with the right support and strategies, they can develop these skills and become confident in the workplace.
8 Essential Pre-Vocational Skills
Developing pre-vocational skills can help autistic teenagers and young adults prepare for future employment and achieve independence. Here are eight essential pre-vocational skills that can help your autistic teen or adult gain valuable skills.
1. Communication Skills
Autistic teens and young adults may struggle with communication due to social challenges. So, it’s important to teach them how to communicate effectively through verbal and nonverbal cues. This includes learning to listen actively, using appropriate terms, and understanding body language. You can learn more about social skills here and get a free social skills checklist.
2. Time Management Skills
Autistic individuals may struggle with time management due to executive functional challenges. That’s why you should teach them how to prioritize tasks, set goals, and manage time effectively. You can learn more about executive function challenges and help with task initiation here.
3. Money Management Skills
People on the autism spectrum may struggle with managing money because they typically have to deal with challenges in executive function and decision-making. Teaching them basic financial skills like budgeting, saving, and responsible spending goes a long way.
4. Organizational Skills
Organizational skills are important for any job as they can help improve productivity and efficiency. For autistic youth, organizing their workload is a challenge within itself, mostly due to their executive function challenges. It’s important to teach them how to plan, prioritize, and organize their tasks.
5. Following Instructions
Autistic individuals usually struggle with processing verbal information, which is why following instructions can be a daunting task. As a caregiver, you should teach them how to listen actively and ask for clarification when necessary.
6. Problem-Solving Skills
Teenagers and young adults may struggle with problem-solving because of their difficulties in flexible thinking and executive functioning. That’s why it’s important to teach them how to break problems down into smaller parts, brainstorm solutions, and evaluate them accordingly.
7. Social Skills
Social skills help people build relationships with co-workers and customers, so they’re a vital part of any job. It’s safe to say that communication and social interaction don’t come easy for autistic youth, which is why they may need an extra nudge in this direction. It’s important to teach them how to read social cues, manage emotions, and navigate social situations.
8. Self-Advocacy Skills
Self-advocacy is crucial for individuals with autism, so they can advocate for themselves in the workplace and other settings. Autistic individuals may have a hard time asserting themselves, which is why they need help with identifying their needs, expressing themselves clearly, and negotiating effectively.
By developing these essential pre-vocational skills, autistic teenagers and young adults can gain independence, confidence, and self-reliance.
Sensory Processing and Pre-Vocational Skills
Many people with autism struggle with sensory processing, which can affect their ability to develop pre-vocational skills. For example, an individual hypersensitive to touch may struggle with using tools necessary for a certain job.
On the other hand, someone who’s hypersensitive to touch may have difficulty recognizing when they’re holding a tool too tightly, which can also lead to injury.
If you need help with that, you can check out the Teen Sensory Processing Guide eBook, an incredibly beneficial resource with a wide range of sensory activities. These activities can help improve pre-vocational skills and overall sensory processing abilities, helping your kid achieve greater independence in their future career.
Functional Life Skills and Pre-Vocational Skills
Functional life skills are a crucial part of pre-vocational skill development for autistic youth. These skills help people perform everyday activities like managing finances and preparing meals, which are vital for independent living. By learning functional life skills, autistic teens can gain confidence and become better equipped to face the challenges of adulthood.
Examples of functional life skills that can help with pre-vocational skills include cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and managing money. These skills not only help individuals become more independent but also provide valuable experience for future employment opportunities.
To assist in learning these skills, you can explore my Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults. This excellent resource includes step-by-step guides for various activities that will build and enforce learning.
By incorporating functional life skills into pre-vocational skill development, you can help your autistic youth gain the necessary skills for a long and fulfilling life.
There are many success stories of autistic individuals who have developed pre-vocational skills and achieved independence, which should serve as an inspiration for you to continue supporting the development of these skills for your loved one.
Remember that sensory processing difficulties can impact pre-vocational skill development, so try to be patient with your teen or adult. Break down tasks and use visual aids for them, and always remember to motivate your autistic teen to learn these skills as slowly as they need.
If you need more help with teaching pre-vocational skills, make sure to check out the sensory guide ebook and functional life skills bundle, as they have been life savers for many parents out there. With the right attitude, support, and guidance, your teen can successfully acquire the pre-vocational skills they need and make a fantastic transition into the workforce.