Earning that first pay-check is a feeling like no other. The sense of self-sufficiency and confidence which earning a livelihood brings is the stepping stone to living an independent life. Every parent must work towards making his/her special child experience this unique feeling. To be very honest, finding a job is never easy and it is even more challenging for one with special needs. However, with the right skills, temperament, and preparation you can make your special child ready to land his/her first job and take his/her first step to an independent living.
Understand their interest and passion
As with all people, work ethic and drive is higher when your child's work revolves around something they truly enjoy and are passionate about. Try to ask them about what they like doing, what they would like to learn, and what they want to be when they grow up. If your child is good with numbers, try to introduce him/her to basic calculations. What next? Take it further with introducing him/her to basic Excel. It might seem unrealistic at first but it requires patience and hard-work from both the parent and the child.
Other passions could be painting, sports, acting, music and what not. Don’t discourage your child and make him/her pursue what everyone else is doing. Understand that your child is ‘special’, take him/her to a career counsellor or coach and let them have a chat. The modern world has unlimited opportunities and your child will definitely find his niche in one of them.
Try to look for a job that suits your child’s special needs
Your child could be an Einstein with calculations and have advanced knowledge of Excel, but have panic attacks every time he/she is confronted by a stranger in a social setting. In that case, working as a supermarket cashier would not be the job for him/her. Try to figure out what your child is good at and what your child struggles with, and then shortlist jobs/ businesses that may work for him/her. In the above example, a Remote (Work From Home) data-entry or accountant job may be the perfect opportunity.
Tackle Transportation Challenges
90% of jobs require your child to travel to the place of work and your child must be able to do so. Not being able to travel independently limits their ability to get to and from work and get involved in post-work social plans and interactions which are great for overall development for your child. Explore local transportation options and teach your child how to take a cab, find their way on the MRT map, use Google Maps, walk safely (the concept of zebra crossings etc) and related things.
Start With a typical Part-Time Job
Most students have to start off with typical part time jobs, such as setting books in place at a library, arranging shelves in a supermarket or checking IDs at an event’s entrance. These do not appear to be great learning opportunities, but actually they are. They instil confidence, responsibility, discipline, social skills and a sense of pride in earning your first few dollars. Try to look for some easy and routine part-time jobs to provide exposure to your child.
Finally, learn to let go! Being protective of your child is important, but letting go and allowing your child to independently live in the society is equally important. Your child will, undoubtedly, face challenges. Try to support and motivate him/her, but allow them to face their own challenges and live their own life!
The SpedGrow App is a financial wallet which allows vulnerable individuals to handle financial transactions in a safe environment. With the financial wallet, these individuals can make purchases independently, grow savings for the things they like, and basically learn to be savvy with their money while being protected. It allows caregivers to supervise their child’s spendings. It also provides gamified education about money related concepts and real-life situations through simple, yet impactful in-app games.