Parents should begin thinking about employment for their children on the autism spectrum when they are very young. Involving them in household chores, volunteer work and other projects will help prepare them for employment later on. Our son Trevor had weekly chores and took care of his own needs as much as possible, and as early as possible. He was choosing his own clothes, making his own breakfast, and getting himself up in the morning with an alarm by about 10 years old. By middle school, he was making his own lunch to take to school as well. He learned to take care of the cat, clean the bathroom and vacuum in elementary school as well. He found comfort in these weekly chores because of his need for routine and schedule-keeping. These tasks can help your child to become a dependable employee later on.
In middle school and high school, job-shadowing and other similar opportunities, such as volunteer work in different areas, are great preparation for people on the spectrum to start exploring what they might want to do for a career or a part-time job.
As parents, the more you can keep your child's adult future in mind and look for ways to prepare for it, the better. Find more about autism and work in my book, Six-Word Lessons for Autism-Friendly Workplaces. --Patty Pacelli