Transition Planning for Employment: Core Principles
Table of Contents
Ohio Employment First Task Force identified five core principles to consider when planning for competitive integrated employment for youth, including youth with autism spectrum disorder. As families, educators and agency partners work together to create plans that lead to adult success, they should review and address the five principles (listed below). Transition teams should strive to align practices and programs that reflect these principles with the knowledge that youth with ASD may present unique strengths and challenges that have implication for planning, education and support.
- Core Principle 1: Competitive, integrated employment is the expectation for all youth with disabilities
- Core Principle 2: Transition planning for youth requires multi-agency collaboration
- Core Principle 3: Early dialogue with individuals and families is critical to ensuring employment outcomes
- Core Principle 4: There are multiple pathways to employment
- Core Principle 5: Person-centered planning is key to the development of effective services and supports for transition-age youth
Core Principle 1: Competitive, integrated employment is the expectation for all youth with disabilities
High Expectations are Key! Unless we expect success, success will not simply happen. Employment goals that reflect meaningful jobs and equitable earnings should result in transition plans and services that are likely to prepare the student for productive employment outcomes. When there is no expectation of competitive integrated employment, services and support may focus on activities that have little significance to adult life.
Ohio Employment First: Changing Expectations
Core Principle 2: Transition planning for youth requires multi-agency collaboration
Success does not happen in silos! As youth enter the transition years, agencies become involved by either providing service or assisting in planning for future service. Regardless of the extent of formal involvement while the youth is in school, agencies should come together with families to discuss and develop a plan that will lead to adult employment.
Youth with ASD may have many agencies involved as they enter the transition years and into adulthood. Conversely, some youth may have few formal agency connections and may be eligible for few or no adult agency services. Additionally, agencies may not be familiar with the variability of strengths and challenges presented by some individuals on the autism spectrum. These issues elevate the importance of multi-agency collaboration for youth with ASD.
Backwards Planning for transition youth is a process that is intended to be used with a multi-agency team. This process can facilitate the type of collaboration reflected by Core Principle Two. Learn more about Backwards Planning from this short video by Ohio Employment First
Core Principle 3: Early dialogue with individuals and families is critical to ensuring employment outcomes
Discussions of the future can be overwhelming for both families and teams. However, meaningful conversations concerning future life must begin early in order to prepare. For example, some children with ASD may need intensive supports that are met through specialized services and autism specific programs, yet families envision their future as part of an inclusive community. Some individuals with ASD may resist change and are frequently challenged with life transitions, yet desire a future that includes community employment. In these situations, early awareness and meaningful dialogue about the future can support realistic planning, reduce anxiety, and identify necessary supports for community employment and membership following the school years.
The Ohio Department of Education offers free Secondary Transition Modules that can be used by all stakeholders, including families, individuals, educators, providers, and other agency partners. One of the five modules focuses on Family Engagement.
Core Principle 4: There are multiple pathways to employment
Successful pathways to employment for individuals with ASD are diverse and extremely individualized. There is NO "one shoe fits all" thinking when it comes to employment for individuals with ASD. They can hold career positions in higher education, corporations, medicine, entertainment, retail, manufacturing, food services, and more. Some choose the path of entrepreneurship. Individuals with ASD fill multiple roles in their career paths. Some excel at technologically-based jobs while others may enjoy predictable routines such as stocking, packing or assembly. Still others find employment that is physically challenging to be a good match for their skills and sensory needs.
In some cases, youth with ASD and their team may struggle to recognize a pathway that could lead to community employment. In those situations we might say he or she is on ‘Place 3 or 4’ which are those individuals who are questioning if work is a realistic option. These individuals are still considered ‘on the Path to Employment’, however, the approach may need to consider a variety of unique issues and fears. Strategies and resources to assist in planning for employment with these individuals, their families and team members is reviewed in an archived video on the Ohio Employment First Transition Framework webpage.
Core Principle 5: Person-centered planning is key to the development of effective services and supports for transition-age youth
Person-Centeredness is the core element to all effective planning. Regardless of when a team begins planning or who the members of the team are, there will always be the need to keep the individual as the nucleus. Conversations about services and programs should generate after the youth's interests, needs and goals have been established. When the focus of planning becomes 'the program' or 'the service', the individual is in danger of being replaced as the central theme of planning.
Individuals with ASD have qualities and attributes that some team members may find unique. Interestingly, this uniqueness can challenge a vision or enhance expectations dependent on the way a person is viewed. Capitalizing on the unique possibilities and identifying the unique needs can help build a foundation for successful future planning for employment.
Information on person centered planning (PCP) is available from many sources. Several of these resources are highlighted throughout the guideline resource sections. The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities focuses a great deal of attention on PCP including an overview and resources of seven essential elements of PCP.