A look into programs for individuals with ASD (Last Part)-A A +A
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
IN PREVIOUS articles, I have discussed extensively some features of a program for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Most of the examples of activities in a typical Transition Education Program (TEP) and Job Readiness Program (JRP) were cited from the programs conceptualized by Professor Archie David who patterned these from models in Australia during his scholarship in Masters in Occupational Therapy. Most centers here in the Philippines are focused on TEP and a little on JRP. Professor David pioneered on the Work Placement Program which is the ultimate goal of most parents for their child with ASD.
After a screening and the assessment process, a student's readiness for work placement is determined. Once a student's readiness is established, a list of job options is presented to him or her and to his or her family. The rationale behind the options is also explained. The family and the student, along with the job coach, would then confer to identify which job option is most appropriate for the student given their goals, values and resources. After which, ILLC would find possible employers for the best job option identified. Meetings with potential employers are set for him to be better aware of the student's condition, skills and expectations. Potential employers also discuss the job description, salaries, privileges and work schedule.
Development of a work training program ensues after an employer has committed to accommodate the student. Goals are identified and a plan for training is developed for the student. The job coach implements the individualized work placement plan constructed for the student. According to Teacher Archie, "The plan consists of the job description, goals, time frame for training, the resources needed, the training activities, teaching strategies as well as a plan for monitoring progress."
An example is a student in ILLC Manila who developed encoding and office skills in school. He is now working as a Librarian Aide Assistant in one of the premier universities in the country. He continues to impress not only his co-workers but also the other people he meets daily.
Another example is Paulo, 24 years old. After undergoing the Job Readiness Training in ILLC Manila, he now works at a Chinese restaurant in Quezon City as a food checker. He receives a stipend and benefits equivalent to those of entry level regular staff. Of his work he says, "I feel nervous about this new adventure but at the same time, I am excited. I know my training in ILLC is more than enough to guide me in my new work!"
In any program for individuals with ASD, students should come first above everything else. Just like in ILLC, students are highly encouraged to explore their potentials and enjoy the moment as well. The school has special activities and programs to celebrate as a community and to showcase the students' talents especially in the realm of singing, acting and dancing. In addition to their academic and non-academic subjects, ILLC provides the students with educational trips, sports tournaments as well as outreach activities to help the students become well-rounded individuals. For special learners residing in far areas, ILLC develops home programs that their families can implement.
Children and the youth with special needs need not be limited to a very strict lifestyle. With proper guidance, education, love and support from his family, teachers and friends, they too, can be contributing members of the society. Parents should always look out for a program whose mission is to prepare their child for life.
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 email@example.com).
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 21, 2014.