There is evidence that career decision making has its roots in early childhood and continues throughout the lifetime (Magnuson & Starr, 2000; Trice, 1991; Trice & McClellan, 1994). The results of this study indicate that by fifth grade, and sometimes as early as first grade, children are able to rationally examine how realistic their career aspirations are, as shown by Auger et al.,(2005). As a result more researchers are focusing on the beginnings of career exploration among elementary-aged children (Auger, Blackhurst, & Wahl, 2005, Trice, Hughes, Odom, Woods, & McClellan, 1995; Trice & King, 1991; Walls, 2000; Wright et al., 1995). In one such study, it was discovered that half of a group of children aged 9 and 10 believed they had already made decisions that would impact their future careers (Seligman, Weinstock & Heflin, 1991). Many young children may aspire to careers that are unrealistic, a phenomenon that is particularly troublesome among young children from families who may not have the skills or knowledge to help guide and support their children to more realistic careers. This is a phenomena seen many times seen among low income, minority, and/or “”at risk students” (i.e. the desire to have a career as a professional athlete) (Bobo, Hildreath,Durodoye, 1998; Cook et al., 1996; Helwig, 2001).
While career aspirations among young children may not always be realistic, they do form the basis for future career aspirations. There is the question of where these aspirations originate. There are certainly multiple sources of future career aspirations among young children, it is indisputable that parents do have an impact on the career aspirations of their children, as do other important role models. For this reason, it is important that elementary school counselors, teachers, and parents to become more actively involved in assisting and guiding young students in the early processes of career development and preparation. Additionally, the American School Counselor Association National Model 2000 supports and mandates that school counselors become involved in career development and career awareness activities with elementary-aged students. This is perhaps even more important for children who have disabilities and they may face different challenges to reach realistic career goals.
One area where schools and the government have expressed a growing desire to increase the numbers of qualified individuals for academic and professional careers is in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Unfortunately children who have disabilities are a population who are most underutilized and under-recruited to fill STEM positions in academic and career fields. Possible contributors to this problem certainly include “ability” for some specific professions among some disability groups to enter STEM preparation and careers. One must also consider the impact of child self-efficacy and parent expectations as a...