Autism Takes Strides in the Workforce

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 othersThis 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 peoplecausing 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!

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Temple Grandin Is At It Again

At a conference Wednesday in Montreal, Temple Grandin, known for her knowledge on autism and animal welfare and behavior, stood in front of the audience with a monumental presentation.

According to Grandin, who is now 66, she feels blessed to have been diagnosed with autism when she was 2 ½ years old. Furthermore, she alluded to figures such as Albert Einstein and Apple’s Steve Jobs, who perhaps would also be diagnosed with autism. “You wouldn’t have all these electronics and technology if it weren’t for all these geeks with mild autism,” Grandin suggested.[i]

Temple Grandin has been known for her advocacy of early intervention programs for young children diagnosed with autism. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can begin therapy. Grandin believes in bringing out the exceptional skills children with autism possess, and to help them succeed. Instead of concentrating on what autistic kids struggle with, parents and therapists should encourage their strengths.

When a young girl presented Grandin with honey and a painting, she accepted it graciously and said, “Let me tell you, you’re professional grade. I’m serious. You’re very talented and you could turn this into a career. I’m all about careers.”

Let’s take Temple Grandin’s advice: realize the importance of early intervention for children diagnosed with autism, and try to bring out everything they could possibly offer to succeed.


[i] “The Gazette” Let autistic kids take a turn, author advises. 07 Nov 2013. Web. < http://www.montrealgazette.com/touch/story.html?id=9134398>