Resources

Employment

Employment plays a pivotal role in adulthood. By using appropriate services and support and taking advantage of an individual’s strengths and abilities, employment is attainable for most adults who experience Autism. Planning for future employment should be part of every child’s life plan and career pathways should be expected in adulthood. There are stereotypes around which types of jobs are “good” for people who experience Autism, but these are simply stereotypes. Adults with Autism are represented in every profession.

When planning for employment, it’s helpful to connect with your local Autism Society affiliate and/or Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which has representation in each state and territory in the United States and can be found online. The state vocational rehabilitation agency assists people with Autism and other disabilities to prepare for and engage in employment. This agency has resources and connections to meet your career goals, whether you need education prior to employment, a communication aide, or a job coach, they can be a great resource.

Employment Models

There are different types of employment that can
be pursued and acquired.

Competitive employment is the most independent, with little to no formal support offered in the work environment. Another facet of competitive employment is integrated employment, which ensures that the employee is able to interact and is on a team with other employees that do not experience Autism, as opposed to being in a siloed department and/or physical location that is only for employees with Autism.

Self-employment is also an option some individuals with Autism pursue. This requires that you become a business owner or secure work as a freelancer. This requires strong motivation, but can offer greater flexibility.

Supported employment Is paid employment that provides ongoing support (e.g. a job coach or paid supervisor). Supported employment has typically been provided to those with more significant support needs.

Sheltered employment guarantees a job in a facility-based setting that is typically segregated and employs only individuals with disabilities. People in sheltered employment settings generally receive instruction on work skills. Sheltered workshops are being phased out in most areas since they typically pay sub-minimum wage.

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Statistics

Data is emerging that demonstrates adults with Autism are chronically underemployed. For support in securing and maintaining employment, there are many agencies that can help. These include state employment offices, vocational rehabilitation departments, social services offices, mental health departments, and disability-specific organizations. Many of these agencies, as well as other valuable services and support, can be found in the Autism Society’s nationwide online database, Autism Source. Search or call today to find programs in your area!

Resources

  • Historically, the emphasis has been on adults with Autism modifying their behavior to “fit in” at their workplace. More recently, there has been an understanding that employers benefit from being neuro-inclusive. The Autism @ Work Playbook is a resource that guides employers in finding individuals with Autism and creating meaningful employment opportunities.
  • A workplace accommodation is an adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform their job duties. Workplace accommodations are only slightly more commonly requested by people with disabilities. Accommodations may include new or modified equipment; physical changes to the workplace; policy changes to the workplace; changes in work tasks, job structure, or schedule; changes in communication or information sharing; changes to comply with religious beliefs; accommodations for family or personal obligations; training; or other changes. Workplace accommodations are often no or very low cost to the employer.