Programs such as college-preparation camps are changing the way autistic teens shape their futures, providing them with the chance to gain confidence in moving forward with the next step of their lives. Continue reading
On Tuesday, March 17, The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region sponsored a forum addressing workplace opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum. Directed at employers, the workshop emphasized the advantages of workplace diversity. Continue reading
We always talk about how to best get people on the autism spectrum the resources they need to thrive. Typically, that conversation centers around early intervention, therapies inside and outside of school, routines and advice for parents in the home, … Continue reading
While unemployment rates are improving across the US, for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), finding and keeping a job can still be an elusive pursuit. Even though many people on the autistic spectrum have the necessary technical skills to complete a job’s duties as well as or better than their neurotypical peers, landing a job that lends financial security and personal fulfillment can be much more difficult. Continue reading
The National Disability Rights Network are now advocating for a nationwide effort to crackdown on employers who are paying their disabled workers unfair wages. Currently, employers can engage in a legal process where they get permission from the U.S Department … Continue reading
Inspiration can come along when you least expect it. For Shannon Nash, an attorney in Atlanta, that inspiration was her autistic son Jason. Jason was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. Doctors and therapists were skeptical about how much progress he would make as he got older, setting the expectations for her son at a very low level.
Jason is now 16 years old and needs continuous speech therapy for probably the remainder of his life. Despite needing therapy sessions along with other day-to-day struggles of being on the spectrum, Jason has made a lot of progress. He has excellent receptive language skills according to Nash and she is currently considering sending him to a Minnesota based program to earn his associate degree that will help him succeed in the workforce.
Nash had never anticipated that her son would be able to even consider higher education as an option, but now that it is she is worried about his job prospects. According to a 2012 study from Washington University only 55% of young adults with autism had a job over a six-year period following completion of high school. The chances of being unemployed and/or not continuing their education are more than 50% greater for young adults with autism when compares to their peers with other disabilities.
Nash decided that she would start looking for resources for her son ahead of time so he wouldn’t become part of those statistics. “I thought surely my search terms were off or there was something wrong with me, but the more I looked, I found very little,” Nash explained. This is when she came up with the idea to build a job board website, called “Autism Job Board” which will not only have searchable job postings, but also information for employers on best practices for hiring and employing people on the spectrum. So far she has received positive responses, although building the job board itself has been a slow process.
Apart from pushing to get more employers registered on her site she hopes that the job board will eventually be able to host job fairs across the country. She remains optimistic that employment opportunities will grow over time for people on the spectrum, “We want to educate people and make them understand this is a workforce to really get behind, and I can tell you it’s going to happen because it’s too many kids aging into adulthood.”
There is a growing population of young adults who are on the autism spectrum that are now emerging into the professional world and unable o find a job for themselves. There are a large number of them who are classified as high functioning, who have achieved higher education, and who are more than capable of joining the workforce.
Only about 35 percent of young adults on the spectrum actually move on to postsecondary education, and of this 75 to 80 percent are unemployed when they graduate—which equates to about half a million people. Marcia Scheiner, president and founder of the Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership (ASTEP) presented these figures in a recent panel as part of Internet Week New York. She argues, “Today’s interview process is largely based around the concept of socialization: Your ability to network, your ability to interact with others…This can be one of the biggest challenges for individuals on the spectrum.”
Scheiner’s approach through ASTEP provides support and education by, for example, persuading human resources at Fortune 500 companies and others to expand the neurodiversity of their workforce.
“People that already appreciate difference believe that by being more tolerant and being able to see different kinds of people, they are going to build a stronger team,” co-founder of software testing company “Ultra Testing” , Rajesh Anandan, says. The traditional methods we normally use to assess individuals don’t work so well for people on the spectrum, though, so how do we change the assessment so that it is informative for the employer as well as fair to other candidates?
Knack is a company that wants to use games to evaluate specific attributes and skills that an individual may have. Halfteck, the founder of Knack, says, “Games are very nonthreatening, because there is no interaction with people…causing anxiety, causing all sorts of other fears. Not everyone is good at interviews, not everyone is good at social interaction.”
Both Halfteck and Anandan believe that the employment rate for people on the spectrum will soon start to increase once there is data that proves that there are environments where people on the spectrum regularly outperform their neurotypical colleagues—driving an increase in recruitment.
To hear Marcia Scheiner speak more on autism workforce initiatives, come to Day 1 of our International Autism Conference! Click here for more info!
It is never too early to start thinking about transitions for your child. One of the biggest transitions will be from school to a workplace. Shema Kolainu understands the challenges that individuals with autism will face while searching for a job. That is why we will include the Global Autism Workforce Initiative in our International Autism Conference on June 30, 2014. This part of the conference will be specifically dedicated to developing and promoting Autism Workforce Programs.
A lot of businesses have started to realize that individuals with autism have a lot of talents that they can bring to a company. Some of the companies that are providing jobs for individuals with autism are ASP, Semperical and Walgreens. Andy Travaglia, owner at Lee & Marie’s Cakery and Bar Crudo in New York employs adults with autism. Andy organized her own bakery business because she had a dream to help people with autism by providing them with a workplace.
Employment not only gives financial independence for those with autism, but also an ability to gain social skills and self-confidence. People on the autism spectrum may take a longer time to train, but when they are ready to perform, autistic workers make exceptionally hardworking and reliable employees.
For more information about our conference, please visit https://www.eventbrite.
A mother of an autistic teen works to create job opportunities for the ASD community. Continue reading
A program called SEARCH, based in Glasgow, Scotland, is assisting individuals with disorders- like autism- ease into the workforce. Continue reading