What do your kids want to be when they grow up? Sometimes our kids’ gifts and interests spark in the preschool years. They did for my eldest daughter, Leah. One afternoon, as I power-napped briefly on the couch, Leah (then age 3) emptied all the contents of our kitchen spice rack into a giant bowl. I woke to find her stirring the herbs and spices with a wooden spoon. “I’m doing a science experiment,” she told me. Years later, Leah’s studying bio-engineering at university. But instead of researching spice rack contents, she’s experimenting with nano-particles, micro-gels and microscopes.
As for Talia, she’s always had mega interest and abilities on the computer. Not only is she a whiz at Facebook, instant messaging and Googling, but she’s also a strong speller. Surprisingly though, she’s not interested in a job using computers. “Computer’s for relaxing, Mom,” she tells me.
Fortunately, Talia’s high school also includes supported job placements in the community, based on each student’s interests. So far, Tal has had work placements setting tables at a restaurant, assembling coffee/tea/sugar containers at a hotel, caring for cats at the Humane Society and running Bingo games at a senior centre. On school days that Talia has “work” with a job coach, she knows to dress especially neatly. “I’ve got work today,” she says proudly.
While these high school work placements are invaluable, they seldom turn into jobs when school ends. Instead the job spots are filled by other students still at school. But my girl, like most teens, is keen to get a “real” job.
That’s why I’m super-excited to attend a Toronto conference this week called “On the Job–Advancing Vocational Opportunities for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders”. While the conference focusses on autism, I’m sure it will have plenty of ideas for many individuals with special needs. I’m planning on sharing ideas and tips with you.So stay tuned!
Even if your kids are young, it’s never too early to think about their strengths and interests.Who knows what strength can translate into paid work when they’re older?
What might your child want to be when they grow up? Do they have an intense area of interest or ability?
Photo by greenlight for girls via Flickr