Careers Helping Students with Disabilities

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By Devin

Homeschooling offers students more freedom than traditional education, allowing for the pursuit of personal interests within an educational setting, at their own pace. For that reason, students diagnosed with disabilities, including autism, often thrive in a homeschool environment.

Once those students reach the upper grades, it’s time to steer them towards a career. It’s imperative to encourage students with disabilities to pursue their dreams and help them through the process. The unfortunate reality is that people with disabilities are underrepresented in the U.S. job market. The Autism Society reports that only 19.3% of people with disabilities participated in the labor force in 2014.

Further, about 35% of young people with autism fail to get a job or pursue higher education after high school. Those students may find it increasingly difficult to secure employment as they age. Thus, early career-related intervention is paramount to the future success of students diagnosed with disabilities. Careers for those interested in helping disabled students may include various branches of therapy and counseling, from behavioral therapists to speech-language pathologists. As for disabled students entering the job market, they should make sure they can perform all required job-related tasks and ask for support from family, friends, and healthcare professionals as necessary.

Jobs Related to Helping Others

Homeschooled students know firsthand what it feels like to stand out from the status quo, so homeschoolers are uniquely qualified to help others once they enter the job market. Career choices that allow one to change the lives of others include physical therapy, psychology, and criminal justice. These career paths all have different requirements and timeframes of obtaining a degree or certificate.

Those who want to help others and are prepared for long-term educational pursuits may choose to obtain an advanced degree in behavioral health or a similar field. With a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis, for example, students can help those dealing with addiction, mental health issues, and disabilities. Many behavior therapists work directly with their clients, while others will take on administrative duties.

While it’s important to steer students towards career goals that pique their interest, however, those goals should also be realistic. If a student didn’t have the best grades in high school, for instance, or has a relatively short attention span, he or she may not be the best candidate for an advanced degree. Becoming a behavior therapist requires discipline, focus, and years of intense study, and prospective students should be aware of what they’re getting into.

Communicating with Disabled Students

Speech and language disorders are common among those living with disabilities, thus professionals in the communication sciences field are in high demand. While numbers among homeschoolers aren’t readily available, data indicates that more than 1 million U.S. public school children receive some form of speech-language therapy. And those entering the field should be patient and already possess good communication skills.

Careers in communication sciences run the gamut from speech-language pathology assistants to full-fledged audiologists, for which a doctorate degree is required. But those who wish to help those with disabilities may not even need to enter the healthcare industry. Directly working with children, as a daycare provider, teacher, or camp counselor, allows for plenty of opportunities to impact the lives of disabled students. Effective communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is key to helping students realize their potential.

Career Opportunities for Those with Autism

When it comes to encouraging students with disabilities to enter the job market, there are numerous factors to consider. These individuals should receive as much direct guidance as possible during the process. For those on the autism spectrum, navigating the job market can be challenging, and their caretakers should be prepared to play an active role in the employment search.

First, individuals living with autism should understand their own personal limitations.  For example, if direct communication is a problem, then a job in customer service or a similar field that requires lots of direct human interaction may not be the best choice. Those on the autism spectrum should also be keenly aware of employment discrimination laws and be willing to call out a prospective employer that demonstrates discriminatory hiring practices.

As autism becomes more widely understood, more and more employers are seeking out those on the spectrum. The ability to focus on specific tasks and tackle problems in a creative way are traits that are highly sought after among many modern companies. According to Workology, companies with active autism hiring programs include Walgreens, Freddie Mac, and Home Depot.

Final Thoughts

While getting a job with a disability can be challenging in today’s competitive job market, those living with a disability have plenty of options at their disposal. Support from friends and family is imperative to the process, as is having a firm grasp of one’s physical and mental abilities. Homeschool students are in a unique position to thrive in a number of careers, whether they wish to help those living with a disability or are disabled themselves.

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