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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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 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.

Click link to see curriculum and registration

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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



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.






Introducing ‘Power Practices’

I am happy and relieved to finally share my new student workbook “Power Practices”. Power Practices Workbook is a curriculum that guides a student through #career exploration with activities that will capture students’ career interests. The latter half of the workbook engages students with real life situations they may encounter during school and on the job. These activities allow the student to safely explore self awareness personally and socially. School personnel and employment specialists will find this to be a valuable tool for career readiness and school transition. Parents will find relief during school transition and post high school transition.  I wrote it to be engaging for students and young adults who want a job they like or a career path to pursue. Much more to come! Power Practices Available on Amazon

Blog: Twenty-five Effective Career Preparations that Promote Autism Spectrum Employment

Twenty-Five Effective Career Preparations that Promote Autism Spectrum Employment

Reprinted by permission from Different Brains.

#Employees with #ASD

“In job settings that are personally fitting, #success is likely when the individual feels #appreciate, #valued, #involved, #challenged, #mentored and #empowered.”

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

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!