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How To Prepare Your Child With Special Needs For A Job Search

Parents have one wish. To see their children grow into confident adults who can make their own way in the world. As parents, we must encourage our children who have job skills to find employment, to join the ranks of taxpayers and to experience the pride of depositing that first paycheck and earning that first raise.

1. Get Out Of The Way

For the parents of a special needs child who has fought to overcome physical, social or emotional obstacles, in and out of the classroom, the moment is bittersweet when you realize that your child is ready to venture out beyond your view.  The instinct to protect our children is natural, but it outlasts its usefulness once our children are grown, educated, in possession of marketable skills, and ready to earn their own keep.

2. Parents Are Not Job Coaches

As parents, we must understand our limitations. We are experts in special needs parenting, but not as job coaches. We are of course able to offer practical assistance on matters pertaining to transportation, dressing and grooming to help our child prepare for the new world of work.  Yet we likely do not know what career is best for our child, or what accommodations he or she will need at work depending on his / her activities.

3. Passion Is Important

Allow your child to pursue his or her interests. Passion for one’s vocation is the first requirement for success. Work with your child, his guidance or career counselor, on his career aspirations, but do not lead the conversation. Your child must learn to sell his strengths and qualifications on his own.  We have seen too many special needs young adult guided along an unsuitable educational path by well meaning parents.

4. Companies Like Perseverance 

Companies stand to benefit from having your loved one who has a disability or special need in their ranks: an employee who has triumphed over adversity, learned creativity, persistence and flexibility and who can open the door to new markets, collaborations and innovation is an employee who will be in high-demand.  Encourage your child to discuss these experiences if he / she is comfortable.

There are no guarantees for any job seeker that the path will be easy. Some rejection is likely.  But that’s true for everyone, and makes success that much sweeter when it arrives.

Image Caption: Christine Griffin (left), Deputy Director, Office of Personnel Management and Doug Fitzgerald (right) Director, Department of Labor, Federal Employees Compensation, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs answer audience questions at the end of the Federal Disability Employment Tour presented by the White House, Office of Personnel Management and Department of Defense at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., Thursday, January 20, 2011.

Photo Credit: USDAgov

Adam KaplanAdam Kaplan is a Special Needs dad and the Founder and CEO of Big Tent Jobs, LLC  a Michigan-based recruiting agency which places talented technical professionals, including those with hidden and visible disabilities, in positions at leading companies.  Adam was recently appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services. 


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Written on November 28, 2012 by:

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