Grandparents are great advocates. We typically have resided in our community for many years and have built relationships with the businesses we patronize. We may own companies or have held administrative positions in corporations. The number of teens with autism is growing and there is an urgent need to identify new job training and employment opportunities for them. Here are some suggestions of how you can help to advocate:
* Identify banks, restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, department stores, hospitals, and the personal services you access and determine who is the best person to contact there. Repair services and, especially, businesses that require computer skills and data entry, are also good places to contact.
* Ask the managers in stores where you shop if the company trains or employs people with developmental disabilities. If they do, suggest that they provide more job training opportunities for high school students, ages 16 to 22 years, in Transition to Work programs.
* Enlist the help of family members and friends to contact the corporate headquarters of companies, online or by mail and ask if they have any referrals for you.
* See the sample letter to get some ideas about what to write, whether or not the company has training programs or already employs people with developmental disabilities. If they have both training programs and employees, encourage them to increase the opportunities.
* Be sure to contact the company within a week or two after you send the letter to ensure that they received your request. If they are interested in learning more, contact the nearest high school’s Special Education Director/Job Placement Counselor to request that they follow-up and provide additional information for the company.