Transitions and Employment
Article: Special Interest Areas and Employment Skills Programming for Secondary Students with Autism. By Bross and Travers, in Teaching Exceptional Children, 2017, 50(2).
Where to begin with this article? The basic message of this article is that teachers can use an Autistic child's special interest to help them plan for post-secondary employment or education. The truth is that unemployment for adult high-functioning ASD individuals is extremely high, and teachers need all the help they can get. I have to tell you, however, that using the child's special interest as a way to help develop skills and plan for the future is an old idea. One school I work with has been doing this for almost 20 years, and there are other professionals who have been basing interventions on this idea for longer than that.
To their credit, this article is thorough in their description of a methodology for adding such a plan to an IEP. They describe ways to 1. assess the child's special interest, 2. match the special interest with opportunities right there in the school, 3. develop a plan to work the special interest into the child's existing schedule, and 4. figure out if the plan is working or not.
This is the real gem of this article because even if I read an IEP which includes the child's special interest in their transition planning, I do not think I have ever seen a detailed description in the IEP of how the school is going to take the child from special interest to employment. The IEP lists the special interest, then something magical happening, and then employment. This article describes the contents of the Black Box school systems are so quick to throw into their IEPs for these disadvantaged children.
Post Script: I will hold onto the article for a bit if anyone wants it. You can cut it out and just hand it to your IEP team. It has references to the research and the law, for good measure.