Importance of Vocational Skills and How to Get Them For Your Child

Does your child have a moderate to severe disability? Are you concerned about your child with autism’s life after school? Would you like your child to receive vocational services so that they may be employed as an adult? This article will discuss importance of vocational skills for all children with disabilities, so that they can be employed as an adult.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that the purpose of IDEA is to: ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education, that emphasizes special education and related services, designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.So according to IDEA it requires that students be given services that will prepare them for…employment. As an advocate for over 15 years I have had many special education personnel deny children vocational services, that I was advocating for. I have also heard from many other parents whose child was also denied vocational services.The first place to start is to request, in writing, a Functional Vocational Assessment. This assessment will help to determine what particular skills that your child has, and how those skills can be used in a work setting. This assessment should be done by a person that has experience performing these assessment, and should have experience with children or adults with disabilities.The information to be gathered is to include the child’s work and school history, learning style, work related skills, work endurance, academics, or functional academics, and the ability to follow directions. Information that is also important is your child’s communication skills, social skills, interaction skills, behavior difficulties, mobility, medical needs, fine and gross motor skills, transportation, and your child’s functional skills.Another important area to be determined is your child’s preferences and strengths. You may have to figure out what your child enjoys, if they are not able to tell you themselves.The information is received from as many different people as is possible, so that the assessment will be complete. The person performing the assessment should also observe your child in their school environment. This is to allow the person to get to know your child, and make their report more effective.After the vocational assessment is complete, the person who conducted the evaluation should write a detailed report. Also, have the person participate in the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meeting to discuss the results, by telephone. That way, you and the special education personnel can ask any questions to clarify what skills your child needs to be taught to be able to get a job.At the IEP meeting you should write up specific Vocational services, that your child will receive to help them prepare for a job. Also to be discussed, is what skills your child has or needs to be taught, to be job ready. Don’t forget to write vocational goals also. The skills should be in writing, with goals on teaching the skills.Remember to consider skills that your child already has. For example: If your child knows how to do some minor housework that can be used to get a job in a restaurant or hotel. My daughter Angelina was taught to fold towels, in her high school community based functional curriculum class. The next year she had a job folding towels in the high school pool area. Another student I know used to take out the garbage at home, and was given a job in the school emptying the garbage.Vocational skills are critical for children with disabilities, no matter how severe the disability. Children or adults with job skills, can work in their community, as well as become an active member of that community. My daughter Angelina has a severe disability, and works at a local college part time. She loves her job, and the students at the college love her too! She is an active and happy member of our community.