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Employment Portfolios for Teens and Young Adults with Autism

April 17, 2019

 

I’m currently teaching a college course for special education teachers on post-high school employment, education, and community living for students with autism. This course got me thinking about helping teens with autism prepare for future employment. I wanted to share one of the strategies we’ve been talking about in the course: portfolios.

In a section of her website on "Job Interviews," Dr. Temple Grandin offers these thoughts about portfolios:

"I never found work by filling out a job application and doing a normal interview. I found work by always having my portfolio with me and showing it off when the opportunity arose...I sold my skills by showing a portfolio of photos, drawings and articles. I learned very early that the door to opportunity was showing my portfolio to the right person. The right person could be anywhere, such as a supermarket or a family party. Today with social networking, it may be even easier to get samples of your work out where people can see it" (Grandin, 2012, para. 34).

I work with several students who are learning skills in coding (computer programming), 3D modeling/design, art, etc. I think it would be helpful for them to start gathering samples of their best work and putting them together in a portfolio.

I developed an editable PowerPoint file that teenage students can use to practice developing a portfolio and not have to publish it online. You can download it free here: http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/portfoliotemplate_final.pptx

If your student is old enough to start looking for work soon, you could start helping him or her with an online portfolio. There are lots of free website hosting companies that have easy templates that you can use (such as Wix, where my website is hosted). For a list of items you might want to include in a portfolio, you can look at this list: https://learntocodewith.me/posts/portfolio-tips/

 

As a general disclaimer, I need to mention that, before creating their own website, students with autism should be given specific instruction in internet safety. This book by Dr. Jed Baker has some ideas:

 

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