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The Vocational Training: A Post-Secondary Path to Success

by Denise Watson, The Glenhome School

As parents begin planning for their high school student's post-secondary goals, it's essential to remember the concept that a post-secondary education is not always synonymous with a college experience. There are numberless venues where education takes place after high school, many of which veer from the traditional four-year university route.

One such option is vocational training. Many young people find the transition from a structured high school atmosphere to an adult life of a career or college to be challenging. This is particularly true for young men and women with special need and those on the autism spectrum. Vocational training can help ease the difficulties of this change. Post-secondary vocational programs are designed to instruct high school graduates and potentially fifth-year students in a specific trade or generic skill set that will prepare them for entering into the work-force.

Myriad areas of vocation training are suitable for young adults with special needs. Job shadowing and internships are common and instruction concentrations may include child care, culinary arts, retail store operations, library assistance, information technologies, automotive repair, nursing or elder care assistance, hospitality, landscaping and construction. The real-life work situations provided in various vocational settings can provide access to valuable skills for autonomy and self-reliance.

Some vocational or career training programs provide opportunities to practice applying and interviewing for jobs, direction on meeting the requirements of employment and guidance on maintaining positive work relationships. Others may offer additional development opportunities to strengthen independent living skills such as money management, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, meal preparation, managing medications, and navigating area transit.

There is much research and evidence that demonstrates vocational training pays off. For many young people part-time and full-time work is their primary responsibility after high school. Both occupationally specific skills and generic technical skills taught and learned in vocation programs can increase productivity and offer opportunities for skills transfer, as well as improve job access and employment stability.

Productive and satisfying employment empowers all young people to feel they are valuable members of their community. Studies indicate many organizations that employ individuals with special needs find them as responsible and productive as other employees. They are often found to be devoted workers who are dedicated to their profession. A vocational program may present the ideal opportunity for young people with special needs and individuals on the Autism Spectrum to potentially find their true call and ultimately their personal path to a successful career.

It is essential to begin the post-secondary planning process for your high school junior or senior early, particularly if your child has special needs. Check with your school for career planning events, identify a realistic transition plan, explore opportunities that suit your child's specific needs and keep an open mind to the many vocational training opportunities. Many young people can benefit tremendously from the structured learning opportunities available to them through post-secondary vocation training programs.

The Glenholme School is a therapeutic boarding school for young people who are diagnosed with Asperger's, ADHD, OCD, PDD, Tourette's, depression, anxiety, and various learning differences. Glenholme offers Glen Ridge, a supportive college and post secondary transition program for young men and women with Asperger's and various learning differences who seek advanced education or career development. Individuals have the opportunity to learn, practice and master skills essential for success in college, work environments and social settings. The program encourages and coaches autonomy in a safe, challenging and supportive setting. Glen Ridge is located near a variety of community colleges, universities and businesses in beautiful Western Connecticut. For more information about The Glenholme School and Glen Ridge, visit

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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