The Autism Society of America is proud to introduce one of our new national programs focused on employment, as outlined in our current strategic plan. Our employment initiative aims to create meaningful job opportunities, improve retention, and break down systemic barriers.
Employment plays a pivotal role in transitions to adulthood, independent living, socialization, self-worth, and confidence. The Autism Society is committed to:
- Educating employers to build inclusive hiring models
- Training teams for supportive services and accommodations
- Connecting Autistic employees to job opportunities
- Working to reduce systemic barriers to meaningful employment
Through this initiative, we seek to redefine employment for Autistic individuals by embracing a Fulfillment Mindset. Recognizing that traditional notions of employment may not be ideal or accessible for everyone, our approach highlights the importance of social-emotional fulfillment for Autistic individuals in their employment journeys. In this introductory article, we will explore various avenues of employment, maintaining benefits, and the importance of including individuals with higher support needs and learning disabilities in our mission.
The Fulfillment Mindset
The core principle of our Fulfillment Mindset is recognizing that there are numerous ways for Autistic individuals to achieve fulfillment through employment. This could include continued learning, passion projects, job/career shadowing, volunteering, coaching, and part-time or full-time integration into competitive integrated employment. By focusing on whole-person integration in employment and community surroundings, we can better support those with Autism in workplace settings and throughout their lives.
Exploring New Industries and Opportunities
It is essential for Autistic individuals to have access to a variety of industries and opportunities that align with their interests, strengths, and passions. As part of our employment focus, we will provide resources and support for exploring different fields, such as technology, arts, healthcare, and more. By doing so, we aim to empower Autistic individuals to make informed decisions about their career paths, while simultaneously promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Through connections with K-12, post-secondary training and college, and with state and federal support systems, we aim to make the journey from exploration to innovation an opportunity for the Autistic community.
Maintaining State and Federal SSDI Benefits
We understand that financial stability is crucial for many Autistic individuals and their families. Our employment initiative emphasizes the importance of maintaining any state or federal SSDI benefits while exploring fulfilling employment opportunities. By educating individuals and families about their rights and options, we aim to strike a balance between pursuing meaningful work and securing necessary financial support.
As we work towards the ability for individuals to navigate the complexities of the SSDI benefits, know that we are working to promote better transitions and supports for exploring career opportunities, and options, while simultaneously receiving benefits. No one should have their financial stability shaken by striving to integrate themselves into the workforce.
Inclusion for Individuals with Higher Support Needs and Learning Disabilities
Our commitment to the Fulfillment Mindset incorporates the idea of being fully inclusive to those who have differing needs on the Autism spectrum. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to experience fulfillment and contribute to their community in meaningful ways. By providing targeted resources, training, and support, we strive to create more inclusive environments and systems that ensure individuals with diverse needs can thrive in their chosen paths.
We at the Autism Society of America embrace the concept and ideal of a Fulfillment Mindset and aim to redefine employment for Autistic individuals and encourage social-emotional fulfillment, exploring various industries, and maintaining necessary benefits. By emphasizing whole-person integration, we hope to create a more inclusive and supportive landscape for Autistic individuals to achieve success in their employment journeys. Together, let us celebrate the unique strengths and abilities of the Autism community and work towards a future filled with diverse, fun, interesting, and fulfilling opportunities for all.
We are also dedicated to identifying organizations and programs that allow individuals with Autism, who have complex support needs, to explore their interests and expand their skills in a variety of fields and industries. If you are an organization or know of one, please reach out to us so we can work to collaborate on opportunities for all Autistic individuals. Learn more about our employment work and related resources.