Work placements and apprenticeships are becoming an increased option for gaining qualifications. Learning on the job can be excellent for some people in being able to gradually learning the skills and gaining confidence.
For someone with specific challenges adjustments moving from work placement to placement for short time spans may be a challenge coping with different people and settings.
Making anticipatory adjustments can be very helpful to increase the success rate for the person concerned. The adjustments in a college/university setting may be quite different from a work setting and need to be considered beforehand.
Often the difficulties are not because of one thing.It can be because of several different elements coming together such as the demand on that person juggling home and work life, along with managing travel to and from work and being in a new and unfamiliar setting. The combination can be a tipping point for being able to cope.
Undertaking a series of work placements while interesting for some may be difficult for others. This requires working with new colleagues with new sets of rules in the way work is approached.
For some, the additive challenge of a new people, working in a new job, managing home and work, and coping with travel may be difficult to adapt to and the person may be more easily fatigued. When considering work placements, if there are options, discussing placements nearer to home may be easier for some.
Small adjustments can make a big difference.
Some strategies to consider for the training organisation or employer:
- Discuss beforehand if going into a new work setting what may be of help.
- Try, where possible, to discuss the wider picture of managing home wellbeing as well as work so that the person can cope with the new work setting.
- Discuss what positive disclosure may mean (i.e. talking about what the person can do as well as what they find harder; positive attributes of neurodiversity).
- Ask if they want to share information about any challenges and to whom.
- Provide information about the placement. Could a present or past student put a placement pack together about key things that would make a difference?
- Discuss the best method of providing information/instructions –orally/written/email – where possible.
- If a task involves following a sequence of parts, could photos or written instructions be provided?
- If the setting is a large building such as a hospital can you give the student a map with key places marked? Offer a ‘buddy’ for the first few days to help with orientation.
- Encourage the student to have a small notebook or electronic diary/phone to record information to remember.
- Discuss getting the person to make some prompt sheets for themselves for specific tasks to start with to remind themselves of procedures. This could be in a note- book or on a mobile phone ( where appropriate).
- When learning a new skill provide the person with additional time and break the task into component parts.
- Explain any key rules e.g. dress code; working hours; ways to address peers and line managers.