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 (can be found online), 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.
There are different types of employment that can
be pursued and acquired.
Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Autism: A Toolkit for Professionals & Advocates in the Autism Community
- This toolkit provides a detailed description of the importance of competitive integrated employment and how it compares to other employment settings. It also provides resources to help find competitive integrated employment, and to professionals on how to support employees with Autism.
Creating a Path: How to Support Families and Young Adults with Autism to Prepare for Competitive Integrated Employment
- This toolkit focuses on considerations and resources to assist families and youth in preparing for competitive integrated employment. This toolkit explores the value of each preparation activity and shares strategies for families and young adults with Autism to put them on a path toward competitive integrated employment.
The Autism Society developed a Tips & Tricks in the Workplace resource, available for download here. This free resource offers a short list of recommendations for supports
that a company and/or an ERG can advocate for to better support Autistic colleagues. These best practices can benefit all employees as well.
- The unemployment rate for people with disabilities who are ready and willing to work is typically twice that of the general non-disabled working population. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment status of civilian population chart.
- Nearly 42% of young adults who experience Autism never worked for pay during their early 20s.
- 58% of workplace accommodations cost absolutely nothing, while the remaining typically cost approximately $500.
- More than 66% of young adults on the Autism spectrum are unemployed and are not engaged in higher education 2 years after exiting high school.
- Mentra is on a mission to empower every neurodivergent to reach their fullest potential in the workforce. The Mentra platform is a neurodiversity employment network that matches Autistic professionals with meaningful careers where they can bring their full selves to work. The Mentra platform is free for candidates – you can click here to sign up and connect with neuro-inclusive companies.
- 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 little cost to the employer.
- Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization compiles guidelines and strategies that can assist employers interested in ensuring their companies’ policies and practices are inclusive of the skills and talents of people with disabilities.
- The Disability Equality Index is a benchmarking tool that assesses companies’ focus on disability & inclusion practices.
- The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion supports employers efforts to recruit, hire, retain, and advance qualified individuals with disabilities.
- The “What can YOU do” campaign focuses on National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The campaign is a highly collaborative effort among several disability and business organizations working to change attitudes about disability and employment.
- A.J. Drexel University Autism Institute, maintains strong data analysis and reporting on Autism employment.