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 (

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.



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

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.





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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

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

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

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.


Emotional Supports for ASD during Loss


Emotional Supports for ASD during Loss

When individuals with ASD face events of loss, emotional supports are necessary to assist their adaptation.

Katie was a golden retriever, Trent’s sweet companion dog and friend for 15 years. She left us on December 14, 2016. She became my autistic son’s pet and a member of our family when she was just an eight-week old puppy.

Sadly, for the past several years, Katie developed arthritis that caused her much pain to stand from a sitting position. This impacted her ability to enjoy walks in the park. Within the past six months she suffered from cancerous growths on her body. Then the last week of her life these growths grew in her mouth. Due to her deteriorating condition, we chose euthanasia for our beloved Katie.

Because of Trent’s love for her, I was deeply concerned how he would respond to Katie no longer being with us. We believed it was important to help him understand and self express his emotions, thus, to appreciate the love he had for her.

Emotions drive everything we do. It is human nature to have emotions, but to recognize them, and to manage them to move through difficulties is the essence of adaptation. It was my intention to help promote Trent’s response to losing Katie and to gain emotional adaptation through this tragic event. In contrast, if we did not bring attention to his emotions, I believe it would only make it worse overtime.

By facing the loss head on, these initiated actions enabled all of us in the family to manage our own grief and emotions. Equally important, these actions helped to enable Trent’s ability to self express and grieve in his own way over Katie.

Seven Actions:

1. We involved Trent in the goodbye process. The morning before we took Katie to the veterinarian, I brought Katie to Trent’s house so he could see and pet her one last time. I took pictures of him with her so he would later see the photo of saying his goodbyes.

2. We openly showed our own emotions for Katie. My emotions were raw and deep. I knew it was important to honor my own emotions I had for Katie, for my own well-being, and to help Trent.

3. The day after she died, Trent and I wrote a story together about Katie. We wrote about all the good times, the special food she liked, the walks and the playtime Katie loved. Our story was about acknowledging Katie’s personality and the love she shared with us.

4. We created a legacy. We found ways that Trent could remember the moments he had with Katie. It was important that Trent remember all the good times with Katie and his love for her. Although he has difficulty expressing his emotions and because of his limited expressive language, we chose images to make a video that would enable his ability to self express.

5. I searched my computer files for photos of Katie. We selected photos of Katie throughout years. We placed them in a special scrap book to be placed on the coffee table in Trent’s house. The book will be a beautiful reminder of the times we all shared life with Katie.

6. I made a video about Katie for beautiful memories. We used photos from the past and photos of the last 36 hours that Katie lived.

7. For our last day with her, we celebrated Katie and treated her to an ice cream party with her best pet friend Daisy Mae. Katie also enjoyed her last sausage, egg, and gravy breakfast. We all enjoyed a day of just holding and petting her.

During stressful times or events of loss, we all need emotional supports. These actions helped us with our loss. Yet, Trent relied upon us to offer activities to manage his emotions of losing Katie and honoring Katie’s presence in his life.

Individuals with ASD need emotional supports, especially when they have difficulty understanding the loss or in verbally expressing their emotions about their loss. The more we help individuals of all ages with autism recognize emotions and self express their feelings of loss, the greater emotional adaptation and growth can occur. Honoring emotions enhances well-being.

Our video, A Celebration of Katie’.

Jackie M. Marquette, Ph.D.

Sing your song

“Sing your song, turn your interests into fulfilling experiences, live the life of your own and one that you own.”

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063

Be Yourself

“By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.”
– Edwin ElliotAutism Acceptance.001

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063

Even if you know your strengths

Even if you knew all your strengths, you would be surprised at their value and your highest potential using them.

Connecting #ASD to their Strengths, Careers & Emotional Self Awareness

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063

The Key to Finding

The key to finding a career direction start asking, “What am I good at doing. Why? Because everyone loves what they are good at doing.

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063

Connecting ASD and DD to their strengths, careers, and well-being!

Our Youth with ASD

Our youth with ASD can become valuable resources in the workforce for the 21st century.

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063

Connecting ASD and DD to their strengths, careers, and well-being!