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Helping Students with Autism and LD Become “Work-Ready”


At College Internship Program, every Career Skills & Technical Education Program (C-STEP) workshop, lab or appointment is used to help students become “work ready”. Besides the obvious, providing explicit instruction and opportunities for students to apply what is learned, our expectations are consistent with what would be expected in the workplace.


We make these expectations explicit by providing students with a one-page summary. While going over each item on the list, we provide examples to help them apply parallels to their situation. Additionally, when students do not manage to act professionally, we refer them back to this sheet and elements of the discussions we had about their expectations.


More importantly, we help students link the constructive feedback and requests we make of them in our sessions with their responsibilities in the workplace. We ask them to consider what would happen if they (fill-in-the-blank) in the workplace, or what a supervisor might think or feel as a result of their actions. It is especially important to emphasize these expectations during the first term and beginning of each term. However, on an ongoing basis, there will be many “teachable moments” to take advantage of during a given class or term in order to help students notice, understand, and adjust their behaviors and become more able to keep a job in the future.

Teachable Moment

Many of our students struggle with the concept of time, which is a common executive function issue. Additionally, some of our students struggle to understand the whole picture and/or the details in a given document. Therefore, it can be very useful to point out how the time frames are listed in the document ahead of time.

For example, Joe was frequently late or absent from his morning internship because he stayed up too late, and his diet was very poor. He lacked energy and motivation. Consulting with Life Skills and Wellness, the student began to make healthy choices at the grocery store for snacks rather than the processed food he was buying. He also began walking in the evening in addition to his scheduled wellness classes.


To help students process and use this information even more effectively, we have students turn this document into a graphic organizer; I have them draw boxes around the items in the list that occur during the same time frame. Having them go through the process of drawing the boxes vs. doing this for students ahead of time can help them be more aware of the time frames provided. In general, the physical process of doing things can bypass or at least reduce the impact that executive function issues have on some student’s ability to conceptualize and comprehend things. Of course, providing an example of this process or at least an exemplar (perfect, tangible example) of what the end result should look on the board, on a projector, or a hard copy will foster students’ clarity and make this process more efficient.

Going back to Joe, over the course of a month, he lost ten pounds. He began going to bed earlier, and no longer spent late nights eating sweets in his room. He began getting up earlier, and was no longer late for his internship in the morning. This experience really demonstrated how interwoven all of the facets and departments at CIP are!

About the Author

Shannon Doran is the Career Development Educator at CIP Berkshire. Her long-term goal is to contribute to the career development movement that is moving across Massachusetts and the country, while helping individuals make informed, satisfying, and supportive career decisions. Furthermore, she aims to help students discover and utilize strategies that will help them achieve their academic and career goals.

This has been a special needs program update from Asperger’s & LD College Programs. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.