Understanding autism and employment can broaden the mindset of employers and create greater opportunities for people with autism.
In this blog, we’ll be looking at the following:
- Is it hard for adults with autism to get a job?
- What percent of adults with autism have jobs?
- What jobs can adults with autism do?
- Why do adults with autism make great employees?
- How can you accommodate autism in the workplace?
- How can adults with autism prepare for jobs?
Is it Hard for Adults with Autism to get a Job?
Job searching is a nerve-wracking and often difficult task for anyone. Because an autism diagnosis comes with its own unique challenges, these can create concerns when preparing for and maintaining a job.
Communication, social skills, and independence can take extra practice and patience for people with autism, and in some cases, being fully independent is not an option.
A study from Drexel University found higher rates of social isolation in young adults with autism. Likewise, not all adults on the autism spectrum can drive themselves, creating a transportation barrier.
What Percentage of Adults with Autism Have Jobs?
In a study from the National Library of Medicine, of the 254 adults with ASD who participated, 61.42% were employed, and 38.58% were unemployed.
Another set of statistics found that at least 20% of adults with autism are unemployed. Researchers also discovered that 24% of study participants had either part-time or full-time jobs without outside support.
On the other hand, a study showed that 7% of participants had supported employment, which means they worked a regular job with outside support from a job coach. A study from Drexel University reveals that approximately 85% of adults with both autism and college education are unemployed.
What Jobs Can Adults with Autism Do?
There is no set list of jobs for adults with autism. Although individuals on the autism spectrum share characteristics from their diagnosis, each person is unique, with their own talents, interests, and abilities. The best-fit job for someone with autism can range from accounting to architecture, cashiering, or even dog training.
For more detail on great jobs for people with autism, check out this in-depth article: 30 Great Jobs for People on the Autism Spectrum
Why Adults with Autism Make Great Employees
Along with the challenges people with autism may face, there are unique strengths that make them especially great employees.
People with autism commit themselves to their work. Employers don’t need to worry about whether they’re getting work done when no one is watching. They adhere to the rules and are dedicated, trustworthy, and reliable.
Employees with autism are hard workers. They’re known for their strong memory skills and attention to detail. Individuals with autism are fast learners and prioritize genuine learning over memorizing.
New autism research from the University of East Anglia found that people with high levels of autism traits are more likely to produce unusually creative ideas. This makes employees with autism great problem solvers and naturally skilled in originality.
People with autism are naturally intelligent or gifted. A 2021 study found that 60% of individuals with autism spectrum disorders are of average or above average intelligence. Because of this, employees with autism fit well in more advanced fields and can adapt to and may learn certain subjects with more ease than the average person.
There are many advantages to hiring individuals with autism. They bring fresh perspectives to the work environment and excel in their responsibilities and dedication.
How Can You Accommodate Autism in the Workplace?
When considering job seekers with autism for a position, it’s important to focus on their strengths rather than what they can’t do or may need assistance with.
There are personal challenges that people diagnosed with autism face. That said, employees with autism bring specific perks to their work efforts, including dedicated, honest work and new problem-solving perspectives. Supporting and accommodating autism in the workplace includes:
- Allowing noise-reducing headphones for noise sensitivity
- If the job allows, letting them work from home (supports concentration and anxiety)
- Giving changes in the agenda and schedule ahead of time (supports time management, consistency, and communication)
- Removing overhead lights from their workspace for light sensitivity
- Creating a set lunch schedule for them (supports the need for structure)
- Creating a clear list of the day’s priorities (supports time management and consistency)
Along with accommodating your employees with autism through the appropriate methods, you can promote an autism-friendly environment that fosters kindness in general and educates other employees on how to accommodate their co-worker’s needs.
How Can Adults with Autism Prepare for Jobs?
Along with encouraging adults with autism to seek jobs with confidence and open-mindedness, there are several concrete practices that an individual can take to prepare for employment success.
Job Coaching can benefit anyone, not just people with disabilities developmentally. A job coach helps clients pinpoint personal goals and develop essential skills such as leadership and communication. They can also offer interview coaching to prepare for the real thing, give clients an idea of what to expect, which questions will likely come up, and ease overall nerves.
Work-Based Experiences are great opportunities to prepare individuals for the workforce. These can include volunteer work or participation in school and community-based activities and events. Opportunities to take the initiative to complete tasks in a temporary environment build up transferable skills for long-term employment.
Skill Training allows individuals with developmental disabilities to improve the skills expected in job fields and everyday living. Roman Empire Agency offers both Adaptive Skills Training and Independent Living Skills Training. These training programs foster independence and strengthen essential daily life skills.
Vocational Assessments work to reveal the strengths, interests, and present and future goals of teenagers and young adults. The qualified professionals who conduct these assessments can help students with autism to identify any obstacles between them and their goals. The areas emphasized in vocational assessments include cognitive abilities, career and personal interests, strengths, and adaptive behavior.
At Roman Empire, we offer the Competitive Integrated Employment Program (CIEP). Utilizing an Employment Interest Assessment and one-on-one employment support, we work with our consumers to learn their strengths, interests, and abilities. Through this information, we can work with you to enter specific vocational fields and maintain a job position.
Disability Employment is a government-run initiative that provides resources to unemployed youth and adults with disabilities. They focus on improving education, training, and employment opportunities.
The Disability Employment Initiative’s official webpage offers a variety of informational resources.