Home > Topic of the Week > Employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Employment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

In recognition of the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Autism Speaks will focus our topic of the week on the employment of adults with autism.  We ask the Autism Speaks Community to share their experiences with employment in the community. 

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness month, please visit here.

Finding a job is a relevant topic in any conversation these days.  Finding and keeping a job can be even more challenging if you have an autism spectrum disorder.  Do you have a success story you can share with us?  What made it work?  What were some of the challenges?  Are there employers that should be highlighted?  Please share your story.

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Check out the US Labor Department awards more than $21 million in Disability Employment Initiative funding to 7 States press release for further reading.

  1. George
    October 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Back in 2008, this Canadian born Aspergers Syndrome male was hired in Toronto Canada to work on Front End in cash at a huge supermarket. Little did I know my people personality (an extreme rarity for people like me!) would in less than a year be a Buddy for the Front End! That to me is big, Oh and things got better for me in the long run. Over a year later I got the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty pin a.k.a. Presidential Status at my work place. With all my accomplishments in over three years i guess you can say this near 200 pound HFA is the Store Mascot and Model Employee of the Front End. Can you say “phenomenal?” That’s how people all over the store think of me even though one cashier thinks I am “full of myself”. I am so highly decorted I get “saluted” by my Front End Manager. How does that sound for respect?? With all I have done for the store, I should be “Employee of the Year” at my work and be inducted into the “Disability Hall of Fame”.

  2. October 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

    My son, Sam, now 23, started working at DeBord Assembly in Lewisville, Texas, building circuit boards several months ago after he graduated from North Central Texas College with a certificate in computer technology and interned at nonPareil Institute, of Plano, building computers. The shop is small — maybe a dozen employees, tops, when they are working on a big order — but the woman running the business, Sabina DeBord, has an innate sense of working to people’s strengths. She’s sincere and respectful, yet still a no-nonsense manager. She proves a lesson we’ve seen all through Sam’s life — more than technical assistance or training, a person of good sense and big heart and a healthy sense of humanity can go far. Really far.

  3. padmaja
    October 3, 2011 at 11:04 am

    my son having problem of autism he is completed 20 yrs he completed his 12 class of education can he able to get job in us?

  4. October 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I am a graduate of ITT’s associate program in Computer and Electronics
    Engineering Technology, I currently am in Baker College’s Cyber Defense bachelors program, and just had my 5 year anniversary with Wal-Mart in the Electronics Department. I can say with reasonable certainty how much a difference technology (specifically, computer technology) has had on my quality of life. I have asperger’s syndrome, as does my son. I know the frustration and incomprehensible challenges an “invisible” disease like ASD’s brings to life, both at home and outside. Computers have allowed my son and me to connect in the same way a deaf mute hears for the first time. It also allowed me to connect in, what I have seen, is a rare facet of social life – romantic relationships. I have been happily married for 6 years (hence the son), and am so grateful to have met someone as tolerant and accepting as her. I can’t imagine how difficult other people with an ASD have it, but I can say this – computers and the related technologies DO help cope, and are even theraputic, in some regards.

  5. Nicole Willis
    October 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

    My brother is 19 years old! He is now a senior in highschool earning a regualr deplomia! My brother case of autism is pretty severe! He doesnt speak, excect in his own language and has had the same schedlue everyday for years! My mom has never stopped pushing my brother and when everyone insisted he should be trying to a special ed deplomia so he could walk, she said NO! And he is almost there! The school has allowed my brother to work in our football teams feildhouse, helping wash uniforms and organize lockers. Clarke hasnt ever worked a day in his life until now, and he is so proud! The team actually includes clarke in many activites, and he is experencing a new level of living! Makes me so happy to see our small town highschool stepping up and giving Clarke the chance to be all he can be!

  6. October 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    The Dignity of A Job

    Once your child has graduated from high school, whether in the typical educational stream or in the special education stream, the next question you need to ask is: How is he or she going to make a living?

    Some of you may be thinking: “Is this realistic?” Yes, it is. Whether your child has Asperger’s Syndrome and can be completely independent at work, or is very severely affected, this is a topic that is worth considering. Furthermore, for those children who have benefited tremendously from early intervention, this is a topic that is going to become more relevant as more children graduate high school with many marketable skills.

    There are many different jobs people with ASD can do. Moreover, there is dignity to completing a job and getting paid for it. At one end of the spectrum are people who can get a job on their own, but may need a temporary job coach to help them learn the social rules regarding the work place so that they don’t inadvertently alienate coworkers. Then there are others who need to be placed in a job, taken to the job-site, coached on how to do the job, but can do the work independently, once trained. Even people who are severely autistic can be taught to work at a job in a team e.g., delivering newspapers. I recently came across an article about a determined transition coordinator, Ms. Stanton-Paule, who is transitioning children with autism into paid employment. We need an army of people like this woman!

    Working and getting paid for it is important because it further includes people with autism into the fabric of society. I think that they deserve that chance, and whether they are employed full-time, or part-time, they need to be able to define themselves to the world as having a job and having the perks that go along with the job e.g., money.

    Recently, I came across Aspiritech, a Chicago startup that is hiring adults on the autism spectrum to work as software testers. That’s great news because there are many talented people with ASD who are very employable in the computer field.

    Here are companies that hire people with an autism spectrum disorder.

    Aspiritech hires people in the United States:

    http://www.aspiritech.org/

    Autism Works hires people in the United Kingdom:

    http://www.autismworks.co.uk/

    Specialisterne hires people in Iceland, Denmark and Scotland:

    http://www.autismworks.co.uk/

    Passwerk hires people in Belguim:

    http://www.passwerk.be/en

    Laura Shumaker, wrote an interesting article on this topic.

    http://blog.sfgate.com/lshumaker/2011/09/26/putting-adults-with-autism-to-work/

    She lists a variety of non-profit organizations that work on the problem of employment for people with ASD, in addition to the organizations listed above. I think the solution is going to ultimately come from for profit companies that understand the benefit of hiring people on the autism spectrum. Not having to rely on government funding is preferable, since it is the profit motive that will keep these people working, not a benevolent bureaucrat.

    Other possible employment ideas (across the range of capabilities for people on the spectrum) include the following:

    • Computer Programming
    • Graphic Design
    • Musical Transcription
    • Typing
    • Book Cataloging (in libraries and used book stores)
    • DVD/Video Cataloging in Video Stores
    • Delivering Papers

    http://www.elance.com

    These are jobs of which I am aware; however, I’m sure that there are many more not on this list. Please contact me if you have a lead so that we can broaden that list and provide more opportunities! Above is Elance, a Freelance website that has lots of opportunities available, depending upon skill set.

  7. October 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I made Autism Candles as a work program brand. The candle making effort in Humboldt county California for autism and developmental disability candle making got front page featured stories in two local newspapers, other news articles, local T.V news and donated radio ads for years that continue. So then I made Humboldt Includes for sponsored transitional integration working with local agencies. I am an autism self-advocate and candles and advocacy is my life, my interest and it’s getting bigger. We just got a disability loan for simi-robotics candle making equipment to.

  8. Adam Vogel
    October 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I didn’t know that October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I hope Autism Speaks does some research on the employment rate of adults who have autism. It will be interesting to see how other adults who have autism are doing in employment during these extremely difficult economic times.

    I’m just frustrated right now, because it’s extremely difficult for me to apply for jobs and getting the interviews because I’m lacking the work experience, not the educational requirements that are needed for these accounting positions.

  9. October 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Employment for adults with autism is a topic that is uppermost on the minds of the staff at Erik’s Ranch & Retreats. We are acutely aware that there is a growing population of young people with skills, talents and capabilities that are as yet untapped.
    Erik’s Ranch & Retreats is a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation with two locations, one in Edina, MN; the other near Bozemen, MT. The residential programs will offer living, working and lifelong learning experiences for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although it is a residence for young adults with ASD, it is more than a home. It is guest accommodations run by the community of young adults with autism who live there.
    Residents will live as independently as possible, engaged in meaningful activities that include family, friends and community. Our mission is to (1) match the environment and the residents’ strengths, abilities and desires, (2) increase skills, enabling independence and participation in the community, and (3) provide surroundings that encourage family and community involvement.
    Our mission is to provide safe sophisticated living, working, social and recreational environments for young adults with autism based on our guiding principles of lifelong learning, individual community building and bidirectional integration through voluntourism. We are committed to giving our residents a rewarding life in which they will experience dignity, compassion and continuing possibility. You can visit http://www.eriksranch.org to learn more about our organization and program and how you may be able to participate.

  10. October 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Hi5! Thanks for asking the public about our perspective of the Jobseekers, Employees and Self-Employees who work while managing an Autism Spectrum conditions. ‘Enjoying The Hi-5s of Autism-A Family Experience’ will share your Questions on our social networks. Thanks Autism Speaks.

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