April is Autism Awareness Month.

Individuals with autism vary widely in their abilities, challenges, and need of support. Not every person experiences every symptom. For some, holding on to any job is a challenge. Others are able to establish careers, although they often face significant struggles with communication throughout their working lives.

Although persons with autism are represented in all types of careers, the areas of high technology, technical writing, scientific and academic research, library science, and engineering make good use of their logic and analytical skills, excellent memory for facts, attention to detail, vast knowledge in specialized fields, and tolerance of routine.

Unfortunately, while the number of people diagnosed with autism increases each year, there are not enough quality programs designed to train adults with autism with real-world career skills. As a result, too many are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill level.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Companies that have successfully hired and retained individuals with disabilities (including those with autism) include Walgreens, Glaxo Smith Kline, Clark Manufacturing, Outback Steakhouse, and CVS Pharmacy. Firms like these have developed programs so managers and employees alike can learn about the benefits of providing accommodations for workers with disabilities, such as autism.

Coding Autism is another such organization. To help adults with autism learn the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job, Coding Autism recently announced a new program to train those with autism how to code.

To help fund the program, and allow contributors to provide for scholarships so that the entire 15-person first class can attend tuition-free, Coding Autism launched a crowdfunding campaign at: https://startsomegood.com/coding-autism-training-adults-with-autism-in-code.

Support is vital for adults with autism to remain successful and employed over time. Job coaches, mentors, liaisons – and/or an EAP – are needed to ensure that individuals with autism understand their jobs, and employers and co-workers grasp the unique needs of a colleague with autism.

Individuals with autism typically have social difficulties, therefore social aspects of workplace relationships are an important factor for support persons such as job coaches, EA professionals, and others to address.

Support must be tailored to the individual. Each adult with autism has different skills and challenges to overcome in the workplace. Adults with autism are a valuable sector of the workplace and with support can be very productive and valued employees.

In a day and age in which reliable, skilled help is too often in short supply, it is in management’s best interests to work effectively with persons with autism.

Resources include:

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families: https://www.autismspeaks.org

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers free information for individuals and employers on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues: www.askjan.org

Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS) provides resources for individuals and medical professionals: www.aspergerssyndrome.org

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates charges of discrimination against employers: www.eeoc.gov

 

Advertisements