A look into programs for individuals with ASD (Part 4)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


ALLOW me to illustrate further through examples how a Job Readiness Program develops either existing or potential skills of an individual with special needs. In ILLC Manila, students interested in food preparation, cooking, kitchen maintenance, stocking, customer service and money management, train in the Abelardo’s Diner. Through experiential learning, necessary work skills are taught to students aspiring for future work placement in the food industry. Capable students may train as the assistant chef, food checker, server, waiter, dishwasher, or stocks officer, to name a few.

One example is Mike (not his real name), 14 years old, who enjoys helping out in the kitchen at home. According to his parents, he has a penchant for slicing and chopping vegetables. In his work training at the Abelardo’s Diner, he acts as a kitchen hand assigned to help the chef prepare food items to be cooked. He learned how to set the dining area, wash dishes and is now starting to learn simple cooking techniques such as boiling, baking, sautéing and frying. Mike’s parents observed that he now has initiative in helping prepare food for their family. He has to be reminded to log-in the start and end of his shift using the Bundy clock because he forgets to do so sometimes.

We also have a student in ILLC Davao who, like Mike, was interested in food preparation and anything that has to do with work in a restaurant. He wanted to enrol in Hotel and Restaurant Management but his parents were convinced that academic work is not for him. At ILLC Davao, we trained him how to set tables and developed him to become a waiter. After a year under the Job Readiness Program, the student and his teachers were already confident to allow him to work in a restaurant and so now, he is already working as one of the waiters of a Chinese restaurant in Bajada. At the start, we had to do extra efforts in giving him the skills training and developing his work attitudes/behavior.
Aside from that, we had to teach him money management and how to ride the public utility jeep to and from his work place. We somehow feel happy that we were able to successfully place him in a good work environment where he is accepted and welcomed by the owners and staff of the restaurant.

The Resource Center of ILLC Manila allows students who prefer to work in an office-setting to develop pertinent work behaviors and skills such as encoding, filing, organizing multimedia references, books and equipment like photocopiers, fax machines, computers, television and DVD sets. Depending on the student’s interest and skills, he or she may work as assistant librarian, data encoder, telephone operator, photocopy machine operator, or the file clerk.

David (not his real name), 21 years old, works as an office assistant at the Resource Center at ILLC Manila. His office skills and remarkable memory with dates and numeric codes never fail to impress his co-workers. Likewise, his noteworthy encoding and clerical skills has helped him manage his work time better. At the start of his training, it was noted that David’s social skills needed improvement. Given his exposure with other students and school staff, he now cites learning how to appropriately interact with people as one of the more important things taught to him at the Resource Center.

The Laundry Master, also located within the ILLC Manila’s school grounds, services nearby establishments and private clients. Based on their interests and skills, students interested in laundry work and clothing management learn how to sort and do the laundry, press and fold clothes. They may also serve as the dry cleaning machine operator, checker or the assistant delivery staff. (To be continued)
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Jane Ann S. Gonzales is a mother of a youth with autism. She is an advocate/core member of the Autism Society Philippines and Directress of the Independent Living Learning Centre (ILLC) Davao, a centre for teenagers and adults with special needs. For comments or questions, please email janeanngonzales@yahoo.com).

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 14, 2014.

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