Executive Function
February 27, 2023

Employment Strategies for Neurodivergent Teens and Young Adults

Ideas for helping your teen or young adult find employment.

Veda Collmer
Employment Strategies for Neurodivergent Teens and Young Adults

Employment serves as a rite of passage to adulthood. A job is an opportunity to be social, make friends, and earn money. Earning money paves the way for independent living. Employment can shape identity, improve self-esteem, and build confidence.  


Employment for autistic teens can be challenging. Autistic people experience lower rates of employment. Autism can impact many skills required for work, such as communication skills, time management, task completion, and stress management.  


So, employment success for autistic teens means finding the right resources.  This blog offers some strategies and resources.  


Find Supportive Employers  


Supportive employers will recognize the unique needs of neurodivergent teens or young adults. Supportive employers strive to hire people with disabilities in their companies. These employers have educated themselves on creating a supportive workplace.  


Luckily, more companies are creating workplaces to support people with disabilities. Check out the Neurodiversity@Work Employer Roundtable for a list of companies that support hiring neurodivergent people.  


Create Opportunities to Build Job Skills  


Developing good work habits as early as possible can lead to success in the workplace. Start with household chores to work on job completion. Build habits for good grooming and hygiene. Teach your teen different types of interactions, such as talking with friends and bosses.  


Check out the Transition to Adulthood: Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder on the Department of Labor website for more ideas on building job skills.  


Find Job Coaches To Support Job Training  


Navigating the workplace is complicated. Your teen must learn job skills, such as being on time, following directions, and communication skills. A job coach can provide more reinforcement for your teen to pave the way for success. The coach can recognize when your teen is struggling and suggest ways to ask the employer for help. Contact your state vocational rehabilitation agency to gain access to job coaching.  


Job Shadow to Find the Right Job  


Finding the right job fit for your teen will support success. If your teen is a night owl, then jobs starting later in the day will reduce the chances of oversleeping. If your teen is an introvert, jobs where employees work alone or have limited interaction will be an excellent fit. Job shadowing can be an opportunity for your teen to explore different jobs to determine the right fit.  


Look around your community for opportunities to job shadow. Are your friends willing to allow your teen to shadow for a few hours? Can your teen volunteer to understand the pace of different jobs? Does the high school offer opportunities to job shadow?  


Learn About Job Accommodations  


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations. Your teen has to ask the employer for accommodations. Your teen also has to understand what accommodations will support success, as well as how to ask for the accommodations.  


Check out our blog on workplace accommodations. The Department of Labor has many resources about job accommodations on its website. Watch this short video about how Walgreens values hiring neurodivergent people.

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