Preparing students to transition to a work environment is an important component of secondary transition planning. Work experience has consistently been identified as the most important predictor of post- school employment success for students with disabilities, regardless of disability or intensity of special education services (Bullis et al. 1995; Carter et al., 2012; Test et al., 2009). As we prepare students for work experiences, our primary focus is pre-vocational and social skills development. However, students often lack the stamina to successfully get the job done and find they are not able to meet the physical demands of the workplace. Students who have developed skills for workplace stamina have demonstrated an increased ability to complete work as assigned. Students that have developed these skills are more prepared to successfully transition to the workplace after high school.
To help students make the transition from the school to work environment, the following tips may help guide the initial preparation:
- Begin with the end in mind;
- Know what the requirements of the work environment will be;
- Evaluate the student’s current work stamina;
- Bridge the gap by starting slowly and building up;
- Provide opportunities that directly increase the amount of time the student must stand, walk or focus on a task, monitoring over time.
Prince George’s County
John D. White, M.Ed.
Instructional Specialist, Adapted PE
Fit4Work is a model that was created by Connie Johnson and outlined in her book, Fit4Work: Fitness for Vocational Tasks for Youth with Disabilities. She identifies the need to build strength, core stability, and stamina to meet the physical demands of work, to enjoy leisure pursuits, and engage with family, friends and community members. A student’s ability to meet specific job requirements (lifting, standing, sitting, etc.) is evaluated using a collaborative approach among special educators, physical and occupational therapists and physical education teachers. This information is then used to develop a plan to work with the student to meet the identified job requirements. These results can be used in the student’s transition planning and development of transition activities.
Prince George’s County is currently using Fit4Work in their Adapted PE classes. Students in the Community Referenced Instruction program focus on physical and mental fitness to help prepare for life beyond high school. The skills learned transfer to the classroom setting, and ultimately to the work and community settings.
Questions to Consider
- What are the job’s requirements related to standing, walking and lifting?
- What is the student’s current stamina for standing, walking and lifting?
- How long can the student currently maintain focus to a task?