5 Things All Youth Leaving School Should Be Able to Say About their Work Readiness

Every young person leaving school wants to have a job or go to college.

Nationally we are in state of  youth employment crises. The situation is so complex, it isn’t just one variable. Yet one approach may give youth the leverage they need for employment, the personal and social capability training to adapt through adversity.

5 Things All Youth Leaving School Should Be Able to Say About their Work Readiness

1. I found it isn’t important to dwell on what I don’t have (my limitations) but to see what I  can do with what I have (exploring strengths, from an expansive approach).

2. I explored, reflected, and discovered my strengths for my best career options. I learned to see how certain careers are a good match to my strengths and interests.

3. I learned about my challenges and the tools I can use to keep me focused, on track, and adaptable to change.

4. Using Reflective Practice, I  took part in a group setting on how to face workplace adversity and discovered I always have options that I can choose for next steps in self-advocacy.

5. I learned about my own self-awareness and why self-awareness is important to getting hired,  to keeping a job, to adapt socially, to have safety and well-being, and to move toward future goals. 

Learning and practicing self-awareness and self-advocacy is not only important to the student, but this groundwork is also important to employers who want to recruit people with skills they need.

What Employers Want

Employers want to hire youth with skills in personal and social awareness to include empathy, ability to work with others, and integrity.

Employers want more support in getting young people “work-ready”.  Nearly nine in 10 employers feel that school leavers are not ready for work. They claim, youth often lack work experience in  communication and teamwork skills.  Employers express that youth don’t know how to behave professionally in a work environment. 

According to John Irons, managing director for global markets with the Rockefeller Foundation, employers are asking for assistance in recruitment, assessment, and support to address entry-level talent challenges and to improve employment outcomes for those facing barriers to workplace, such as diverse populations and disability

Give every student the leverage they need for employment success by offering self-awareness development and self-advocacy practice, so  the gap to the youth employment crises narrows.

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What Gets Between Youth and Their Employment Potential?

After decades of teaching youth with learning disabilities and researching what youth with autism spectrum need to make better work adaptations, Dr. Jackie Marquette discovered what it takes to help youth rise to employment. The keys are guiding youth to see their skills and interests from a wide range of strengths, personalized supports,  training in social emotional awareness development, and plenty of experiences. These are the keys to all youth making adaptations. She has an adult son with autism and has walked the walk, with ups and downs, failure and successes. Trent had employment at Meijer, a retail store for 13 years with innovative supports and for 19 years Trent has created abstract paintings for his art business. Yet many youth with disabilities, autism spectrum, and youth from urban and rural areas fall short in getting employed because they lack opportunity to identify their skills and prepare for personal/social awareness and self-advocacy.  Very few educators, counselors and employment professionals understand why or how to prevent it.

Click here to get Your Starter Kit

Dr. Jackie Marquette is the founder of the Transition Career Academy teaching online courses and face-to-face workshops. Her trainings are approved for 6 CE’s by CRCC. She has been endorsed by highly recognized colleagues in the disability field for skills in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Training, and Research. Her extensive experiences span teaching students with learning/developmental disabilities and ‘at risk’, spearheading autism community workplace projects, implementing school district transition programs, consulting and using her own tools, one-to-one with youth seeking employment through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She researched and interviewed over 800 youth with autism and their advocates, professionals, family members. As the CEO of S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works© DBA Marquette Index, LLC, her program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders, employers, and youth with their advocates to enhance their performance to make a meaningful difference in schools, companies, and the lives of persons with Autism Spectrum/disabilities.

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What Youth Need In Job Readiness For Job Effectiveness: Autism and Social and Emotional Challenges

What Makes up Job Readiness?

Do you wonder why youth with autism or developmental disabilities often fail to make transitions to a job or higher education? Professionals have prepared youth with life skill practice and career exploration tasks yet, far too many young adults continue to lose their jobs or drop out of college. Added to these outcomes are youth who were turned down entry into a job development program because their needs appeared to be too great. This is a disadvantage because often these young adults when employed in the right job match with the right supports make good employees. Many young adults with autism struggle with verbal communication and social and emotional challenges. Yet, what is required is our deeper understanding of how subtle personal supports, self-awareness development, and self-advocacy practice can enable employees with autism to get hired and maintain their jobs with both managerial and employee satisfaction.

We can be grateful for the bright spots, that is, the companies and small businesses that have successfully hired youth with autism. Yet, we have more work to do. For decades there has been an underemployment of youth with autism, thus, we have not adequately served this group.

The possibilities to this crises can be seen as an analogy to a two-sided coin. One side of the coin represents a company’s progressive leadership placing value on subtle supports and innovative employment management. The other side of the coin represents students’ development of deeper learning into recognizing personal strengths, self-awareness development, and self-advocacy practice for on-the-job adaptation. Although company leadership is a significant topic, this article focuses on the latter of the two.

I introduce to you five career development actions that are missing in current work readiness programs, in which youth need preparation:

First, youth greatly benefit in discovering who they are, their interests, and capabilities. To prepare youth, current work-readiness programs focus on life skill practice and experience working on different jobs. There are many domains for life-skills, but under the domain of employment, one example is learning to take the bus to work. Learning life skills and working in job tryouts are necessary. Yet, emphasizing only life skills and only job tryouts are ’simply’ not enough to prepare youth for on-the-job capabilities.

Imagine a new employee on a job and not prepared to know the ‘next steps’ to take when unpredictable things happen. For example, Sarah, an employee with autism was working on a task with Sue, a coworker. Sue later walked away and left Sarah with the majority of the task to be completed by the end of the shift. Sue reminded Sarah she had better finish the rest of the task or she would be in trouble with the boss. Sarah with much anxiety rushed through the task and made many mistakes. The next day, Bob the manager asked Sarah about the unfinished sloppy task. When Sarah didn’t look at him and stood nervously not responding, Bob asked her to look at him. Sarah was unable to explain because of her anxiety and inability to give eye contact.

Consider Phillip, an employee with high functioning autism was unaware that the boss made a sudden temporary change to his regular routine. The manager or team leader forgot to inform him. With the lack of materials and no managers available, Phillip decided to walk the perimeter of the building to fill in his time. The next day Phillip was reprimanded by his boss and warned about leaving the building when he was supposed to be working in an area with another team. Within all the uncertainty, Phillip’s high anxiety caused an inability to explain his view or to self-advocate.

These are actual examples of employees with autism and on-the-job experiences. With all their on-the-task capabilities, they ‘fell down’ with abrupt workplace changes, managerial misunderstanding, coworker limitations, and bullying. Sarah and Phillip were not prepared to handle unpredictable situations, they lacked self-awareness and self-advocacy development to take proper ‘next steps’ that could land them into a favorable outcome.

Imagine a student perusing a smorgasbord of scenarios that highlights strengths from four categories. In participation, the student gains self-awareness about noticing personal strengths to relate to. These are assets a student may or may not have ever acknowledged within h-herself. Gaining knowledge about one or more of h-her strengths is powerful.

Second, when youth see from a career list a real job option that resonates with them, they get curious or interested. Furthermore, when students see possibilities of how their strengths can be applied to a career or job, they feel a connection. Finding a career interest is powerful. 

Third, when students get familiar with their strengths and practice in job tryouts or other experiences, they get acquainted to practicing a new task in a safe space. Thus, when students truly know their personal assets, they are more likely to feel content, safe, and ready to pursue with interest a career development program. Feelings of contentment and safety is powerful.

Fourth, youth benefit in learning how to use adaptation tools to enhance on-the-job performance. With these tools, the student can practice what to do when set backs or obstacles get in the way of job performance. These tools can relieve the student’s anxiety in order to self-manage an uneasy task, setting, or event. Adaptation tools can create feelings of safety. With tools, students gain courage that help them create clarity and diminish anxiety. Having clarity is powerful.

Fifth, youth rely on meaningful self-awareness practice for workplace adaptation. Underlying the concept ‘meaningful’ are a student’s emotions of safety and capability. When daily life brings abrupt circumstances that demand their attention, many youth experience emotions of uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety. When self-awareness development is part of the pre-planning phases of career readiness, the young adult practices: decision-making to become more effective in the moment and on the job. Self-awareness is a necessary action to take a ‘next step’ that lead to favorable outcomes.

When self-awareness development is not part of the work readiness program, harmful outcomes may unfold, such as the examples given of Phillip and Sarah. Being effective in the workplace boils down to these four:

  1. feeling capable,
  2. feeling emotionally safe, and
  3. feeling satisfied about job/career tasks, and
  4. understanding when to self-advocate, even if reaching out to another person for help. Moving through uncertainty to take part on one’s own behalf requires courage and can be self-empowering to student. Self-empowerment is powerful. 

In summary, these five practices make up a student readiness program that extends beyond life skills and job tryouts. These practices come from S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works©. Using best practices from psychology and disability literature and 15 years of my own qualitative research, I codified this system, S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works© (SW).

SW includes personal strength knowledge, self-awareness development, adaptation tools, development of self-advocacy for on-the-job capability.

Do you want to learn more?

Take this professional development training:

How to Engage Youth to Discover Dream Careers and Emotionally Adapt

Accredited by The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, CRCC.

Professionals receive 6 CEUs for online self-study 5 CEU’s for face-to-face workshop training.

To see curriculum and objectives for both: the self-study and face-to-face workshop go to: http://bit.ly/2m2HZFY

To receive a $50.00 discount for each learner self-study contact me, drjackie@marquettestrengthsindex.com

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S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works

Jackie M. Marquette, PhD. Leadership Autism Employment Coach | Founder of The Autism Transition Career Academy CRCC Accredited Training Program | Speaker & Trainer | Author

S.A.F.E.T.Y. Work(s) DBA Marquette Index, LLC. https://www.drjackiemarquette.com 502 417-6063

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Dr. Jackie Marquette has observed and discovered that youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders can rise to employment, apply outstanding talents, and enjoy everyday capabilities. Yet, when youth are not given opportunities to practice self-awareness and daily self-advocacy, their emotional adaptation fails to develop. When this happens very few understand how to prepare, support, and maintain youth with autism for the workplace.

Dr. Jackie Marquette has been endorsed by highly recognized colleagues for skills in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Training, and Research. Her extensive experiences span teaching students, spearheading autism community workplace projects, implementing school district transition programs, consulting and using her own tools with youth seeking employment through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She researched and interviewed over 800 youth with autism and their advocates, professionals, family members. As a founder and CEO of S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works© DBA Marquette Index, LLC. Her S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance their performance and make a meaningful difference in their schools, companies, and the lives of persons with autism and their families.

Making Career Development a ‘Work of Art’ | For All Youth Including Autism and ‘At Risk’ |Dr. Jackie M. Marquette

Youth with Social Emotional Challenges Pic 1 (pixabay.com)

Many students and adults who have social and emotional challenges  such as, autism, do want to work and certainly have the capability to perform well on jobs that match their strengths.

Yet preparing youth for a career or job isn’t an exact science. Rather, I see it more as an art form, because an employment design is so personalized. Consider these areas: a. identifying a strengths and matching these to an environment, b. structure, and c. people in the workplace (acceptance), and tools for communication and adaptation. Integrating all these to meet the student requires a creative approach, which I see as a ‘work of art’. Just as creating a sculpture or painting on canvas is a ‘work of art’ so is the design of supports that personally meet a person’s needs to perform on the job.

When students take part in career and college readiness programs, the goals are set to assist students to get into a job, career, or college. Yet these programs are not enough to assist students with social and emotional challenges, thus, the programs are incomplete. For example, it is no longer sufficient to place youth in jobs or careers based upon their capability to merely do a task. When considering the criteria to choose a student as a client for a career development program, educators and counselors must be cautious on how they accept students. Criteria for program entry should not be based upon a student’s cognitive functioning, test scores/academic success, independent levels, or behavior. These criteria do not serve youth well, because these factors are incomplete to meeting students’ needs to emotionally adapt.

Rather, it is crucial to design programs that emphasize individualized plans with supports and tools that help the student gain preparation, a. self-awareness, b. self-advocacy training, c. the negotiation of a daily routine to manage on-the-job capabilities, and d. team collaboration with coworkers. A creative design with these elements becomes the rich groundwork which can lead to a student’s experience of job satisfaction and where adaptation can unfold and blossom.

I discovered when youth receive preparation for career readiness through the lens of an design of an art form, it can make a positive difference to student capability and adaptation over time. I offer eleven employment design processes that get youth involved creatively and committed to their life and career possibilities.

  1. When students are guided and supported to deeply explore career pathways, they are eagerly taking part in curiosity and the art of imagining possible work options that may become a good match to their interests and strengths.
  2. When students experience job try outs, they are in the art and practice of discovering tasks they like or don’t like, experiencing environments that appeal to them or not, identifying settings they enjoy and find overall self-satisfaction,all within exposure to multiple workplace environments. 
  3. When students make mistakes or have emotional set backs within their career search, they are in the act of experiencing and with guidance reflecting about the effects of their choice-making. 
  4. When youth feel acceptance with assistance to identify personalized supports to move through challenges, they are involved in the process of choosing and implementing. This is the art of building self-awareness, self-determination, and self-advocacy. 
  5. When students learn and practice basic self-regulation skills, they are making personal choices to create favorable outcomes for themselves, thus, choice-making
  6. When students listen to suggestions or advice from people who see the best in them or from those who have their back, they are taking part in creating their life through accepting connections and mentorship.
  7. When students make a decision about a job or career choice they are creating a vision of how they see themselves in future careers. This is a work-of- art in self-awareness development.
  8. When students take small brave steps forward into their chosen life direction, they are becoming more self-aware through creating the moments of each day.
  9. When students are aware of the power of their own choices, they are pursuing the art of self-determination. 
  10. When students become aware of their problems and must seek out a solution, they are practicing the act of speaking up for themselves. This is true even when youth rely upon a tool or another person to speak up with them. This is the practice and art of self-advocacy.
  11. When students fall down (and they will) and with support and guidance they stand up wounded or scarred, this is artful living. 

Artful living requires artful choice-making. All students should take part in this early career preparation and career development.

Every choice a student makes has an impact, regardless if the circumstance is small or highly important. A student’s progress is created in the moments of choice-making. We must teach students how choice-making is tied so closely to their self-emotional awareness because awareness impacts capability and adaptability. This is artful career preparation in action and S.A.F.E.T.Y Works.


SAFETY WORKS PIC 2 (pixabay.com)

S.A.F.E.T.Y Works(c) (words on image)

S  A recognition of a unique set of strengths and challenges

A  Self-advocacy training fostering emotional self-   

    awareness and

E  Environment exposure with predictability

T  Transforming

Y  Young adults to emotional adaptation, i.e., favorable 

    outcomes employment or college.

THIS ONLINE COURSE for PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is for teachers, counselors, employment specialists, other professionals

If you need….transition and career implementation training for certification or CEU”s for your career, then take this course. How to Engage Youth to Discover their Dream Career and Adapt. 

Click link to see curriculum and registration https://www.drjackiemarquette.com/courses/

Save $50.00 Discount

Use Coupon Code: backtoschool50off    good through October 15

This course has been approved by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification

Receive 6 CEU’s


Pic 3 (image by Jackie Marquette)

Pic 3: How to Engage Youth o Discover Dream Careers and Adapt (words on image)

-7 Mini-Modules of about 3 hours total viewing time.

-6 downloadable Templates

-2 Assessment Tools, the online Strengths and Career Index© and downloadable  & The Alternative Self-Awareness Assessment© (ASAA). Downloadable

-The Golden Wheel©, & The Predictability and Engagement Timeline©

-Completion: A Student Checklist, A downloadable

-Downloadable Course Workbook (107 pgs)


End Note:

I believe I bring something unique to the career and adulthood readiness table for youth with Autism Spectrum and Social and Emotional Challenges. This work is based upon my research in which I created an expansivestrengths based approach with user-friendly tools to support students interests, emotional self-awareness, and self-advocacy. I call this model SAFETY Works©.

In my research, I listened to the voices of hundreds of persons with autism, their advocate/parents and professionals who worked with these students. I wanted to learn how they searched to find meaning within their lives and discovered or created resources to reach goals and adapt. I used the data to create user-friendly tools to help guide young adults to have their right job/career, training/college, and/or to live both independently andinterdependently.

In my personal experience with my autistic son supporting and guiding him, I learned to listen. Over the years, he taught me how to support his self-determination, self-advocacy and adaptation. He personally experienced many trials and errors with set backs and progress. It hasn’t been a walk in a rose garden, but with supports he walked his own journey and has been a professional practicing accomplished abstract artist now for 17 years.

The tools I offer in S.A.F.E.T.Y Works came out of my work and my life’s experiences and I want to pass them to people with autism their advocates and the professionals who work with them.

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackiemarquettephd/

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Thank you for taking time to read my article.

Next June, What Will Your Students Say About Their Career Transition Preparation?  | Autism Spectrum and Special Needs | Jackie M. Marquette Ph.D.

Don’t ignore emotional well-being and adaptation in preparing youth with Autism Spectrum and Special Needs for jobs, careers, and college. My article give 5 necessary points.

[Actual Persons]:

An 18-year old male with autism received a scholarship to study chemistry at a prominent university. After 6 weeks, his parents were called to come and get him because he rarely left his room. He was found fearfully curled up in the corner of his dorm room.

A 23-year old male with autism quit his job at a big box store after 15 months of being recognized as a good employee. A new manager failed to inform him about a change that would effect him directly. The sudden change placed the young man with new work tasks and among new unfamiliar coworkers. He didn’t adapt.

A 16 year old female attempted suicide several times because she lived in fear of being bullied. Although she is alright now, she still becomes anxious with the memories that she can’t let go.

Of each one of these case studies, students were not able to emotionally adapt. I believe a gap exists between what students receive and what they need in order to make effective school transitions into the adult world. 

Most school’s career transition programs focus on cognitive levels, academic strengths, and test scores, but these factors don’t prepare youth for the external demands to socially and emotionally adapt in this world.

Numerous studies in Positive Psychology and Disability on decision-making of people with intellectual disability and Autism Spectrum indicate these students exhibit limited social and emotional skills which greatly limits their ability to make decisions. When a student has limitations in making a decision, this greatly impacts their emotional state. Thus, studies indicate a students’ health and safety can be jeopardized, making youth a high risk to suffer harm. 

The Transition Gap: 

Student career effectiveness lies in the gaps of preparation in exploring career interests in safe settings and adapting emotionally to attain career goals.

Here are a five important objectives that may help fill the gap to prepare youth in school career transition programs. 

1. Our youth rely on safe exposure to new settings, new tasks, and new unfamiliar people.

Peter Vermeulen in his article https://frontline-ireland.com/autism-as-context-blindness-by-peter-vermeulen/ writes about Autism as Context Blindness and indicates an autism friendly environment to be 90% clarity and 10% predictability and 10% normal friendliness. 

Design a plan with the student to take part in a stress-free setting; which may be an event, work setting, or a daily living activity. Include predictable steps for a task and among people who are supportive and encouraging to the student.

2. Youth rely on tools that can create predictability and clarity in order to make good decisions. Design the environment to be clear and well understood so the student can navigate and adapt. 

3. Youth rely upon opportunities to have positive job tryout experiences where they can perform and feel safe. Promote learning within a safe context in order the student can practice and perform. Why? Because when clarity and predictability are in place, the student feels emotions of safety.

4. Youth rely upon self-awareness practice in order to self-advocate. This practice includes a focus on recognition of one’s emotions. The process of self-advocating requires making decisions to move through challenging situations. Create opportunities for student self-awareness practice. Dr. Barry M. Prizant in his book, Uniquely Human: A different way of seeing autism writes that developing self-awareness is one of the top priorities he suggests for parents of children with autism to build success for adulthood. 

Students need to practice recognition of h-her emotions, both low and high. Guide student to reflect upon the bright spots from their experience regardless if the experience was satisfying or unsatisfying. Point out to the student the bright spots and lessons to be learned so the experience can be more positive next time.

5. As a leader/professional set aside time to focus on your own self-awareness. I am far from perfect, but I engage in self-awareness practice daily. Reflect upon your decisions. Note the decisions you made that led to a good outcome, or decisions that turned into less than favorable outcomes with frustrating emotions. Don’t sweep the emotions under the rug. Notice them and the gift they deliver.

I began this article with this question, Next June, What Will Your Students Say About Their Career Transition Readiness? 

As a leader preparing youth for school transition, what do you hope your young person/student will say about their career readiness experiences? What story do you hope they tell about their progress and eagerness to go out into the world of work or college studies?


This course has been approved by the Commission on 

Rehabilitation Counselor Certification 

Receive 6 CEU’s 

How to Engage Youth to Discover Dream Careers and Adapt 

This course is PERFECT for you if you want to get these specific results: To get youth ready for a job/career with tools that promote belief in themselves, enhanced self-awareness, on-the-job capability, self-advocacy and emotional adaptation. I created this course about things I know, and only about things that have been my tools, and my path.

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Connecting Youth to their Strengths, Careers, and Adaptation


Dr. Jackie Marquette, is an Autism Career Strategist, online course creator, researcher, and parent of an adult son with autism. In 2007 she received a Ph.D. from University of Louisville. Jackie has 3 decades of professional experience as a teacher in special education, district transition consultant, consultation with young adults and their families, an autism evaluation service to the clients of Vocational Rehabilitation counselors. She has 4 decades of personal experience guiding and supporting her son who has autism to live a life of well-being and self-determination. The tools she created are powerful and can: 1) assure the student/young adult of their career possibilities, uniqueness, and one-of-a-kind self-expression and, 2) guide and support a student/young adult to take steps to emotionally adapt, progress, and safely pursue a job/career.

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Helping Youth Get Employed | Professional Development | 6 CEU’S

Helping Youth Get Employed | Professional Development | 6 CEU’S

Announcing my ONLINE COURSE: ‘How to Engage Youth to Discover their Dream Career and Adapt’

Are you a counselor, educator, or a parent seeking ways to help youth with Autism Spectrum and special needs access their own blueprint for career preparation?

With this course, you will receive:

-Tools for student matched job/career options:

-Tools to create on-the job predictability for adaptation,

-Tools to create student acceptance in workplaces and community settings,

-Tools for building connections, and

-Checklists and tools to promote self-acceptance, self-advocacy, and self-satisfaction in life.

This course has been approved for 6 CEU Credit Hours by the

Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification

See Curriculum and Registration:


Receive  $50.00 Discount

Use Coupon Code: backtoschool50off

For Purchase orders or questions? 

Contact me: Dr. Jackie M. Marquette


Connecting Youth to their Strengths, Careers, and Emotional Adaptation


Jackie 20sec video august 12



9 Ways to Improve Student Transition: Autism Spectrum, Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’

Do you work with students in transition and worry about how they will get or keep a job after high school? This blog will offer new perspective. Briefly I will reveal the problem and next the 9 solutions.

Student transition to a job or college in our society operates on the ‘Vertical Approach’, which is an upward movement from one phase of life to the next. Examples include: high school student to college student, or high school student to employee. But the vertical approach doesn’t work for every student. I introduce to you the ‘Lateral Approach’ to increase transition outcomes.

Problem Revealed
According to data reported in article
more Kentucky high schoolers are graduating, but not prepared for college or the workforce.

Data show 90 percent of Kentucky’s students graduated, but only 60 percent were college or career ready. The numbers were much worse with African-American students and students disabilities, with career readiness rates of 32 percent and 25 percent.

The national level data is equally discouraging for students with disabilities.

Nine Solutions
1. Use ‘a lateral approach, a creative process that applies a step-by-step approach to enable student to make effective transitions. Let me offer an analogy. Just as a car that comes to a dead stop at the end of a street, the driver must use its reverse gear to get out of being stuck. A driver wouldn’t use the reverse to drive all the time, only when needed. The same process can be applied to students with disabilities in transition. We must create Career Readiness (CR) Programs using the ‘lateral approach’ (creative steps) that move h/her forward. For some students, effectiveness in transition is dependent upon an art form, requiring school personnel to think ‘out of the box’. Thus, the ‘vertical approach’ is not eliminated for students, it is only enhanced by the ‘lateral approach’.

How can school personnel use the lateral approach to enhance effective transitions for students with Autism Spectrum, Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’?

2. Use assessments that look beyond academic areas and look into multiple intelligences that draw upon student curiosities about careers and noting their experiences in career exploration.
Drop using a student’s IQ as a criteria to determine if the student can enter and/or benefit from a CR Program.

3. Use tools that reflect a student’s personal preferences and the need for supports to enhance predictability, focus, and on-the-job decision-making.
Drop using a perceived functional cognitive adaptive ability about a student. This perception can lead to denying h-her access to a CR program.

4. Use and practice acceptance that all students can enter and benefit from a CR program.
Drop criteria that denies a student’s entry into CR program based upon h-her family’s low income household or situation.
Drop demographic labels that deny student CR access: students of color, ethnicity, or disability.

5. Use tools that help student self-evaluate their own individuality, strengths, and unique abilities.
Drop academic ability and test scores as criteria for entry into CR programs.
Drop using diagnoses/co-morbidity as a reason a student cannot benefit from a CR program.

6. Use strength-based assessments and see the student’s unique abilities and interests that can lead to a career to explore.
Drop seeing behavior as a criteria to be corrected and changed before a student enters into a CR program. A student’s behaviors may change with new engagement and new interests.

7. Use actions to show that you believe in the student. See student as one who can make strides in a CR program.
Drop judgement that may instill disbelief in h-herself. Your belief about the student having strengths and abilities can motivate the student to initiate or follow through with steps required to get employed and face the on-the-job obstacles. Promote self-determination.

8. Use student self-evaluations to encourage student self-awareness. When the student gains self-awareness with self-advocacy activities, h-she is introduced to safe and effective ways of responding to on-the-job demands or problems. When self-advocacy is practiced, accountability to a job or college can be accomplished.
Drop any perceptions you may have about performance of task skills equals overall employment success. Rather, it is the self-awareness development and self-advocacy training that promotes social and emotional capability to adapt to a job or college.

9. Use the framework of ‘interdependence’ in Career Readiness Programs. Students need to hear from you the professional that we are all interdependent and rely on supports.
Drop the requirement and stigma that they must achieve ‘independence’ in all things. Teach students when they work and contribute among others, they are showing increased ability to perform on the job. We live in a very interdependent world, so should individuals with disabilities recognize that it is acceptable to use ‘interdependence’ to pursue their goals.

1. Teachers/ Professionals/Parents —Do you want your students to know their strengths and careers that match?
Give your students the Strength and Career Index©
for only $9.99 use Discount Code: INDEX65 Go to marquettestrengthsindex.com

2. If you want to learn more about Jackie giving a training to use these unique career readiness tools with curriculum, call me at 502 417-6063 or email me drjackie@marquettestrengthsindex.com

3. Look for my weekly program on Linked In ‘Autism Interdependence Matters’

Lastly, I look forward in emailing you information about courses I am offering, tools, and videos.

Thank you.
Have a nice day.

Jackie Marquette Ph.D.
Autism Interdependent Strategist

Work Readiness for Students with Autism  Spectrum, Developmental Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’: A Professional Resource Checklist

Work Readiness for Students with Autism  Spectrum, Developmental Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’: A Professional Resource Checklist

Check each one that applies.

1. My student/clients can often see good job/career possibilities for themselves. ___________

2. My student/clients generally rely upon people (natural) supports in the workplace in order to adjust or adapt to their job.  ___________

3. My student/clients generally have challenging behaviors which makes it difficult to identify an appropriate job match.___________

4. Most of my student/clients need structure in order to perform on their job. ___________

5. My student/clients often show a lack of motivation or inspiration to do what it takes to get hired or to keep their job. ___________

6. My student/clients often lack effective ways to speak up for themselves. ___________

7. Most of my student/clients can name 3-5 interests or strengths they see in themselves. ___________

8. I see my student/clients abilities and strengths, but these aren’t an easy match to jobs/careers they can do. ___________

9. Most of my student/clients have a desire to get a job or to go to college. ___________

10. My student/clients have shown anxiety and/or have melt downs in one or more of the following: a. learning a new task, b. working around unfamiliar people, c. in new settings, d. or when changes suddenly occur on the job site. ___________

11. My student/clients usually know the kind of job they want and can do. ___________

12. Many of my student/clients place high demands of ‘independence’ or ‘do it myself’ attitudes in which they have a difficult time measuring up to. ___________

13. Though my student/clients exhibit challenges, they rely on people around them to believe in their abilities and strengths. ___________

If you checked 2 or more of  these numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12  – your students could benefit from S.A.F.E.T.Y. WORKS (c)

I would love to share several tools with you to use with students in your Career Readiness Programs. These tools with curriculum can provide increased insight and clarity in preparing your student/client for Career Readiness/College, Job Development, and Job Maintenance. 



Here is a Free Gift  I want to offer your student/client with Autism Spectrum. Students:

Fun Free Quiz–How well do you know the value of your strengths?

Thank you for reading my blog.


End Note:

I believe I have  something unique to bring to the Career and College Readiness table for youth with Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disabilities. This blog represents a strengths model to support personal preferences and emotional needs, known as SAFETY Works©.

In my research, I listened to the voices of hundreds individuals with autism and their advocate/parents about how they found meaning and how they wanted to live their lives. Over three decades of study and experience, I used the data to create these tools to help people facilitate getting the right job, pursue college, and/or to live interdependently. With personal experience, I have a an adult son with autism who has become an accomplished artist.  He taught me how to support his self-determination, self-advocacy and adaptation. We personally experienced many trials and errors with set backs and progress. I want to pass these tools to people with autism and their advocates to create and live their adult lives their unique way.

Please offer your comments, because I want to hear them. I spend a lot of time writing. If you like my blog and think it can help other people, please share it.

Again thank you for reading blog.


Connecting ASD Students to Career Options: 20 Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

Let’s start with a 4 question  self-questionnaire. You may  give it to a student or  your son/daughter . 

1. Do you know the career that is right for you?

___ Yes    ___Not Sure     ___No

2. Do you have a unique interest or ability, but don’t know the right course of study or career to pursue?

___ Yes    ___Not Sure     ___No

3. Can you name your personal preferences and emotional strengths?___ Yes    ___Not Sure     ___No

4. Do you have many strengths yet, have challenges such as, social anxiety?___ Yes    ___Not Sure     ___No

20 Career Tips Just for the Student and h/her advocate. I offer you these career tips to find career possibilities. No matter where you are in the process of seeking a career, try these tips to discover more about yourself and the career right for you.

1. Identify your hard skill strengths in cognitive interests. For example, you may enjoy watching a good debate, learn chunks of information quickly, or have an interest in reading and studying social issues, such as civil or gender rights. If any of these sound like you, discover how each of these can be applied to a career of interest. There are many outlets to pursue your strengths. Here is a video just for you.

2. Take note of your unique ways to self express. There are many ways to express your genius capacities. Some include music (singing, playing an instrument, writing music and lyrics), the arts (visual spatial talents to paint, sculpt, or in designing architecture). These strengths can lead to an idea for a business or self employment. Many people have extraordinary talents that fit into a careers and are highly valued in society. Doing what you love can still take work, yet, can be motivating, invigorating, and fun.

3. Personal Preference Strengths (PPS) are especially important to know, even if you have no idea of a career choice or if you already know a specific career interest. For example, you may have a preference to choose a setting that operates on a slower pace over a fast paced setting. PPS are enhancements that can positively support your motivation, participation, or performance in a career. Once understood how to apply your preferences, they offer you predictability and become the fabric of how you work, adapt, and become most effective. Your individual preferences can make all the significant difference to enjoying your job and maintaining a career. I call it ‘in the groove’. A person is most ‘in their groove’ or ‘in their own skin’ when understanding and using their personal preferences at their best. Being aware of your PPS is like having insight into knowing if the job atmosphere is right for you.

4. Your Emotional Strengths-

Emotions drive everything we do. Daniel Goleman claims our emotions are as important to managing a career as  cognitive skills. Having only hard skill ability will not guarantee your effectiveness in a career. It is important to know your best emotional strengths and how to use them to your benefit, such as, interviewing for a job, maintaining a career, or asking for a promotion.

Here are some emotional strengths that you may notice in yourself.  Emotional strengths are valuable to becoming a good employee.

5. Do you avoid letting other people’s opinions change yours? If you answered yes,  you are true to yourself and show a  sense of self-awareness? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No

6. Do you usually manage  well when you are in a group working on a task or a project? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No

If so, you have shown self-awareness.

7. Do you accept correction about how to do a task without reacting defensively? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No  If you answered yes, you show self- regulation.

8. Have you assisted another person when they asked for help on a task? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you are showing to be trustworthy.

9. When faced with an important task, do you get started working on it? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you are taking initiative.

10. Do you admit to yourself or someone else when you have made mistakes on a task? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you are showing that you are conscientious and trustworthy.

11. Have you came to a class or a meeting prepared?

___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you are showing that you are motivated.

12. Have you contributed ideas or work tasks with others on a project? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you have participated well on a team.

13. Have you thanked someone for doing you a favor, such as a teacher or a boss? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you are self-aware about when to show gratitude.

14. Have you helped someone who was struggling and needed assistance? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you were showing  empathy for someone else.

15. Have you found deep meaning and purpose in taking part of  a group, such as, bringing awareness about the global environment, or helping your church feed hungry families?

___ Yes ___Unsure ___No

If you answered yes, you are showing the ability to take part with focused group awareness.

16. Have you shown the unique ability to convince someone to buy something or do something beneficial? If you answered yes, you have shown to have influence with others.

17. Have you  sensed the moods of other people through their body language or facial expressions? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No                  If you answered yes, you have shown a deep social understanding in receptive communication and social awareness.

18. Are you a good listener to someone else you admire?

___ Yes ___Unsure ___No

If you answered yes, you have the ability to build a bond with others.

19. Have you participated with with others on a team or a project?

___ Yes ___Unsure ___No   If you answered yes, you were capable of cooperating and collaborating on a team.

20. Have you asked for help when you had a problem? ___ Yes ___Unsure ___No

If you answered yes, you have shown self-awareness.

Congratulate yourself if you discovered some ways you have self-awareness and social awareness.

Take the Strengths and Career Index   only $9.99.  Use code: Index65

Thank you for reading blog.

Dr. Jackie Marquette


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End Note:

I believe these tools have something unique to bring to the table for youth with ASD. This blog represents a strengths model to support personal preferences and emotional needs, known as SAFETY Works©.

In my research, I listened to the voices of hundreds individuals with autism and their advocate/parents about how they found meaning and how they wanted to live their lives. Over three decades of study and experience, I used the data to create these tools to help people facilitate getting the right job, pursue college, and/or to live interdependently. With personal experience, I have a an adult son with autism who has become an accomplished artist.  He taught me how to support his self-determination, self-advocacy and adaptation. We personally experienced many trials and errors with set backs and progress. My mission is to pass these tools to people with autism and their advocates to create and live their adult lives their own way.

Please offer your comments, because I want to hear them. I spend a lot of time writing. If you like my blog and think it can help other people, please share it.

Thank you for reading blog.







Autism and Resilience

A woman named Fran shared a story with me at an autism conference we both attended. She described Jason as a 40 year old man with autism as her close friend and she enjoys spending time with frequently. She also sees herself as a mentor to Jason as well. Fran spoke of Jason’s brilliance and how he successfully achieved several college degrees, one bachelor’s, and of two Master’s, one in chemistry. She smiled and simply expressed her appreciation to have Jason’s friendship. Then Fran shifted her conversation to describing the set backs Jason has had in the past and the failure to have the career he so deeply wanted.  

After graduation, Jason was offered an internship with Company X. He struggled to keep up with the momentum of his coworkers, the communications, negotiations, and collaborations. Although Jason was capable of doing his job, he left the job because the demands were too stressful to effectively participate on projects with coworkers. Fran shared that for the past 10 years Jason had been working in retail on wage hour jobs, leaving behind the dream career he had wanted since childhood.

Jason and Fran’s friendship is within a church setting – attending bible study classes and group socials. She then spoke of Jason’s social problems. In one particular meeting, Jason struggled to sit still when a class extended ten minutes beyond the predictable time. She encouraged him to wait patiently until the meeting was over. Because he showed so much anxiety she then suggested he leave before he had a meltdown. 

Another time she talked about inviting Jason to go with her and a group of friends to a restaurant. It was a warm summer evening and the group chose to dine outdoors on the patio. Everyone had such an enjoyable time talking and laughing that when the restaurant workers locked the doors and closed for the evening, Jason was ready to go. He expected everyone to leave too. She explained to Jason that they didn’t have to go because they were sitting outside of the restaurant. Jason’s anxiety increased. Fran then suggested to Jason that if really wanted to leave, it was alright. Jason left immediately.  

I only know Jason through Fran’s story. Afterwards, I felt an appreciation for Jason’s incredible talents and yet, sad that Company X either didn’t know how to support Jason’s challenges and/or he may not have had the tools to negotiate for his own needs. Yet I believe Jason may have been able to keep his job with greater employer appreciation of his talents and deeper understanding about subtle supports that could minimize challenges. Had Jason been able to keep his job, his talents would have been unique contributions to Company X. See Interdependent Employment Model 

Unfortunately Jason’s employment outcome parallels with many of my research participants.

Regardless of Jason’s inability to hold onto his career, I believe he had effectively faced adversity in getting 3 college degrees and showed resiliency in many ways. Resiliency is ‘the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds–trauma, tragedy, personal crises, plain ‘ole’ life problems–and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful.’ See resiliency  

It can also be valuable to reflect on past experiences to see the resiliency we once had and use it to meet today’s desires and goals for living. 

Fran’s story about Jason’s past experiences and their friendship inspired me to write this  7 question assessment.

I invite you to take this short quiz to reflect upon the ways you have been resilient. Perhaps your own experiences can be a light to inspire and guide you now.

Find Your Resilience

  1. Do you remember a time when you suffered a loss and wanted to give up on a goal? Yet you somehow got a new view, became honest with yourself and kept going? (answer even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).  

_____ Yes    ______ No

2. Do you recall a time you did not run away, but you faced a difficult situation in life (answer even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you). _____ Yes    ______ No

3.Have you ever became inspired to take action because you felt responsible to someone else or other people? (answer even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).

_____ Yes    ______ No

4. Do you remember a time when you took a step forward to act on your own behalf to get back on course in life. 

_____ Yes    ______ No

(answer even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).

5. Do you recall looking at a situation from a unique perspective that was both different and creative in order to find a new solution or a way to accomplish something?

_____ Yes    ______ No

(even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).

6. Have you ever cried your heart out about something or someone and years later found that when you look back you can find humor in the situation or enjoy a good laugh with yourself?

_____ Yes    ______ No

(even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).

7. When setbacks in life occurred, have you found yourself saying ‘yes’ to doing what is right and true, because you had self-determination or a strong belief system about something?

_____ Yes    ______ No (even when you had a mentor or a support system there for you).

Calculate your answers.

If you answered yes to one to three of these questions you have:

shown some resilience in your past.

If you responded yes to four to six questions, you have: 

strong resilient tendencies.

If you answered yes to all seven questions you are a: 

‘resilient warrior’.

Now discover what kind of resilience you have shown.

If you answered yes to #1, when you suffered a loss and wanted to give up on your goal, you somehow got a new view and became honest with yourself. You have shown intuition or a deep understanding about yourself.

If you answered yes to #2, you remembered a time you did not run away, and you faced a difficult situation in life. You showed autonomy.

If you answered yes to #3, you became inspired to take action because you felt responsible to someone else or other people. You have shown autonomy while being connected to other people. 

If you answered yes to #4, you remember a time you took a step forward to act on your own behalf. You showed resilience by taking action.

If you answered yes to #5, you recall looking at a situation from a unique perspective that was both different and creative, in order to find a new solution.  You were resourceful to find a solution. 

If you answered yes to #6, you may have had your heart broken about someone or something but found years later you can look back on the situation and laugh about it with yourself. You showed resilience with humor.

If you answered yes to #7, you recall a time you said ‘yes’ to doing what was right and true. You have a strong belief system. 

Now consider your answers to the quiz. Acknowledge all your past successes

through the looking through your resiliency glasses. 

Explore ways today you can be resilient to your desires and goals. Achieving outcomes

you want is being a success, this is true. Yet, responding to life’s obstacles no matter

how the outcome turns out is also being a success. Being resilient is being a success in


I wish you much success.

jackie m. marquette Ph.D.


Facing the Fear of Uncertainty


Mary is a delightful 19 year old woman who has autism. Now that she has graduated high school, she has tremendous fear that is preventing her from pursuing a career goal. Her days are filled with hiding in her room drawing and reading. Although she feels safe there, she really doesn’t like hiding in her room all day.

She had overwhelming fear about entering the community. Unexpected occurrences, sensory output from the environment was painful to her ears. What’s more, she feared interactions with unfamiliar people. She dreaded shopping trips because the idea of responding to a clerk or someone else was too much to handle.

Mary has a talent of drawing people’s faces. The detail is amazing. Many of her family members have her art exhibited in their homes. Despite the obstacles, Mary has a deep desire to pursue her talent.

With the Strengths and Career Index, she discovered all her strengths: talent in arts, personal preferences, and self-emotional awareness that altogether can support her talent. She learned about  tech tools that meet her personal preferences, reduces her anxiety, and brings ease to her life. Today Mary is in college and developing her talent.  She has increased her adaptability, has more positive experiences and a greater life satisfaction.

Do you have fears that hold you back from a job or a career?


Do you, or someone you know with autism or challenges (a student, client, or loved one)  have  fears?  Are they consuming  you? or Are they consuming the individual you know?

Try this activity to sort through fears.

List the fear(s)________________________________________________



Is the fear real (for example, if you pet a barking angry dog, you might get bit.) Write about the bad thing that will happen if you face your fear.





Is your fear unreal? (for example, the outcome may leave you to be uncomfortable for a moment, wait a while, or tolerate someone briefly). Write about the uncomfortable thing or feeling you might have to face. The fear may not be damaging or harmful, but may cause you to be  uncomfortable.




If you have a fear in entering settings, do these things:

  1. Reach out to someone to help you sort through your fears.
  2. Take the Strengths and Career Index to reveal strengths and personal preferences that can support you to feel safe and overcome obstacles.