Employment Opportunities
Naperville’s Students with Autism Learn Marketable Skills to Bolster Future Employment Opportunities

Autism impacts a person’s capacity for language, social interaction, and appropriate behavior. It’s a developmental disorder with varying symptoms for various people throughout their lives. While some people with autism have severe difficulties, others have mild symptoms and can lead independent lives.

However, regardless of the severity of the condition, people with autism often struggle with daily living skills, making it difficult to live independently and find employment.

Fortunately, some schools and programs are dedicated to helping people with autism gain the skills they need to live fulfilling lives. One such program is the Naperville School District 203’s Connections program, designed to help young adults with autism gain life and work skills.

The Connections program is a post-secondary program that is open to young adults with autism who have completed high school. The curriculum is designed to instruct students on the skills they need to live independently and find employment. The program has two aspects: the living skills component and the employment readiness component.

The life skills program is designed to help students develop the skills they need to live independently. Things like meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, and self-care are covered in the program. Students also learn how to manage their finances, use public transportation, and navigate social situations.

The work skills program is designed to help students develop the skills they need to find and maintain employment. The program covers various topics, including resume writing, job searching, interviewing, and workplace etiquette. Internships and work shadowing programs are also available to students.

The Connections program has been a great success. According to the program’s coordinator, students who complete the program are more confident and independent. It was also discovered that they have a higher probability of securing and keeping a job.

The success of the Connections program is due in part to its focus on individualized instruction. Each student in the program has an individualized education plan (IEP) that is tailored to their specific needs and goals. Students can advance through the material at their own pace and focus on the skills that are most important to them.

Another key to the program’s success is its focus on community involvement. Program participants are strongly urged to take part in community events and volunteer work. This helps them develop social skills and build relationships with members of the community.

The Connections program is just one example of the many programs that are available to help people with autism gain the skills they need to live fulfilling lives. However, there is still much work to be done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 36 children is diagnosed with autism. As a result, there is an increasing requirement for autism-specific support services.

One critical area in need of support is employment. According to the National Autism Indicators Report (2017), only 14% of adults with autism are employed. This shocking number emphasizes the importance of more programs and services that are designed to help people with autism find and maintain employment.

Fortunately, there are organizations that are working to address this issue. For example, Autism Speaks has launched the Workplace Inclusion Now (WIN) program, designed to help people with autism find employment. The program provides job training, job placement, job culture development, and ongoing support to help people with autism succeed in the workplace.

The Naperville School District 203’s Connections program’s focus on individualized instruction and community involvement has been vital to its success. We encourage young adults with autism in Illinois to consider the Connections program as a stepping stone towards greater independence and success.

Illinois Autism Center – leading ABA therapy center in Chicago area – offers a variety of programs and resources to support individuals with autism, and we invite you to explore their services to learn more. Together, we can make a world where individuals with autism have the same opportunities as others to achieve greatness and life satisfaction.