Using Scripts to Ask for Help at Work
Difficulties with employment for individuals with autism do not end with finding employment, maintaining employment is also a challenge. Employers report unhappiness with employees who do not know what to do when something goes wrong. A recent study, Teaching Adolescents with Autism to Describe a Problem and Request Assistance During Simulated Vocational Tasks, focused on techniques for teaching four secondary students with autism how to ask for specific help when something went wrong on the job.
Already familiar with the job tasks, participants were taught scripts for stating what was wrong and questions to get help to correct the problem. After learning the scripts, the teacher randomly set up situations during work where the student would be missing material, have broken material, or have incorrect material. For example, when completing the task of emptying the garbage, the bags would be missing. The student had to approach the teacher and say, “The bag is missing. Do you know where I can get more bags?” which he had been taught using a script.
Each participant learned the scripts and used them independently while working on work tasks in the classroom and an office location. While further research is needed to assure this technique can generalize to community work settings, scripts may be helpful in increasing communication and getting help to solve a problem, skills necessary for maintaining employment.
Dotto-Fojust, K. M., Reeve, K. F., Townsend, D.B., and Progar, P.R. (2011). Teaching adolescents with autism to describe a problem and request assistance during simulated vocational tasks. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 5 (2), 826-833.