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CAR Autism Roadmap
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What is Vo-Tech?


Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans must be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment. A student&'s plan will specify what this setting is and where it is located. One option for some students is a vocational-technical program, or "vo-tech" for short. Vo-tech allows students (both students with disabilities and those without) to gain real work experience in order to prepare for employment. For a student with an IEP (or 504 Plan), accommodations and supports must be provided at the vo-tech center, as specified in the IEP or 504 plan.

Vo-tech programs usually begin with an exploratory program, designed to expose students to career options before they select a more specific track. Most programs offer a wide array of tracks, including, for example:

  • Business
  • Building and construction
  • Health services
  • Automotive repair
  • Life sciences
  • Graphic design
  • Information and communication services
  • Culinary arts
  • Electronics and robotics

Included within the program, students may learn employment soft skills as well – skills such as proper grooming, hygiene, and dress in the workplace; appropriate work conversations; appropriate workplace behaviors; when and how to ask for assistance; task prioritization; and even how to use transportation to and from the workplace.

In addition to "classroom" based instruction, students will have work-based training opportunities. As students become more skilled, they may be given the chance to work in local businesses to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the workforce.

Students will also have to do traditional academic coursework (English, math, etc.). These classes may be taken at the vo-tech center or at a traditional or alternative high school. Some vo-tech programs are full-time and will incorporate academic instruction on site, as well as extracurricular activities, such as athletics or student government. Students in part-time vo-tech programs will attend their regular high school (or other academic placement) for a portion of the day to receive academic instruction.

Many vo-tech programs have academic, life skills, or other prerequisites that a student must achieve before being eligible for the program. Student may also have to apply to attend. This helps to ensure that students have the requisite skills and abilities to succeed in the vo-tech program and to generalize their academic knowledge to the vocational setting.

Upon completion of the vo-tech program, some students may be eligible to receive a career certificate, in addition to a high school diploma. More and more students who complete vo-tech programs continue on to post-secondary education (for example, community college or a four-year university) before entering the workforce.

Additional Resources

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.