December 17, 2018
Only fifty-eight percent of adults with autism in their twenties are employed, a number lower than any other group of individuals with disabilities. A mere thirty-two percent work in the first two years post high school education. And only thirty-seven percent got extra job-related training to support their employment. NPR also reports that two-thirds of individuals with autism have neither job nor educational plans in their high school years. The system is failing these individuals. How can employers help support individuals with autism? And how can the people and groups already supporting these individuals help them succeed in the employment vector?
What Can and Should Employers Do?
Often the lack of employment stems not from the side of the individual with autism but on the side of lack of understanding from employers. They either lack the knowledge to understand autism spectrum disorder itself, or are ignorant of how they can be supportive to help individuals with autism get and keep employment. How can we help them understand? One thing we can do is educate them on the benefits of hiring people on the autism spectrum. Another thing we can do is explain what support they need, such as job shadowing or special training. And the employer must recognize and acknowledge the social limitations of the individual with autism in order for the job to be successful.
How to Help Them Get the Job
The benefits of hiring an individual with autism, that you should highlight when the individual with autism is interviewing for the job or on their resume, include:
- preference for work over workplace drama
- attention to detail
- long-term memory skills
Temple Grandin is renowned as a success story of an individual with autism flourishing, given the right opportunities. She notes that people on the autism spectrum need to focus on building themselves up with specialized skills for employers to want. This is how she thinks individuals with autism can become desirable in the workplace for employers and overcome their hesitation on the social-skills forefront.
Employment Opportunities for All
To help employers understand why they should put in the effort to hire people on the autism spectrum, it’s important to sell the desirable characteristics these individuals bring to the table. Emphasize what they can do, and note that they may need a little added training or extra support, but in exchange an employer gains a valuable employee who has a lot to offer. It’s reported that more people are aware of autism than have ever been before. This means there is a greater potential for possible employers to become more understanding and accepting of individuals with autism as employees. With help, both employers and individuals with autism can meet in the middle and improve quality of life statistics for this group of people with so much to offer.