People With Autism and Vocational Rehabilitation
April is Autism Acceptance Month. Rather than “awareness” month, advocates prefer the term “acceptance.” The latter term is thought to embody action, while the former term implies passive noticing. Autism Action Month gives us a chance to focus our attention on the relationship between Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and vocational rehabilitation.
This is an opportunity to both learn and educate about neurodiversity—an umbrella term that encompasses neurocognitive differences including autism and other conditions—in the workplace context. We've gathered together our resources and some from our partners across the web, so you can have an autism resource collection right at your fingertips.
By the Numbers
In 2021 the number of children diagnosed with ASD increased from one in 54 to one in 44. As vocational rehabilitation professionals, the more we learn and understand, the better we can help jobseekers with ASD.
According to the Autism Society:
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.
- Nearly 42% of young adults who experience Autism never worked for pay during their early 20s.
- 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
It’s important to remember that each person with autism spectrum disorder is unique. People with ASD differ as much from one another as do all people. Adults with ASD may speak and relate well with others. They may have good eye contact. They may be verbal or non-verbal. They may be very smart, of average intelligence, or have cognitive deficits.
Many people with autism spectrum disorder are successfully living and working and contributing to the well-being of others in their local communities. This is most likely to be the case when appropriate services and individualized supports are provided.
Recommended Resources from TACQE:
Here are a variety of resources to get you started:
- Autism 101 – TACQE-U
This training will help you gain a basic understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), characteristics of autism, and how it can present in the workplace.
- Autism and Employment
This webinar will introduce tools to assist people with ASD in obtaining and maintaining employment. It is designed for Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists, Employment Specialists, and young adults (17-24) living with Autism
- The Apple iPad: Innovative Employment Support for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities
- Employment and Autism in America Today
- Autism and Employment
- Ethical Considerations when Working with Individuals with Autism
Recommended Resources from Our Partners:
Virginia Commonwealth University
- Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Resources On ASD
Our partner, Virginia Commonwealth University, has collected dozens of videos, articles and research papers for helping people with ASD to become gainfully employed.
VR Workforce Studio
- Autism and the Perfect Job in Telecommunications.
Learn about Jimmy Fraley and his perfect work experience. Also, find out about “turning your disability into a superpower” according to Elizabeth Creamer.
- Workplace Resources for Autism Spectrum Disorder
As employers strive to foster an inclusive workplace, creating meaningful employment opportunities for people with autism is a key part of the solution. The following resources are listed so you can add to your cache of knowledge.
- Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Hiring neurodiverse employees can provide companies with a competitive edge that brings measurable benefits, both financially and in terms of workplace culture.
Department of Labor
- Office of Disability Employment Policy
Americans on the autism spectrum experience substantial challenges to attaining competitive integrated employment opportunities that match their interests, gifts, and talents. ODEP has collected a vast array of resources to support job seekers with ASD.
- The Job Accommodations Network has a variety of information, ideas and resources to help employees with ASD to thrive in the workplace. Special interest is paid to accommodations that help people with ASD find career success. They also offer several tools and tips for job seekers who have autism.
AUTISM @ WORK
- Autism @ Work Playbook
Finding talent and creating meaningful employment opportunities for people with autism is important. The Autism @ Work Playbook is the product of a collaborative research project and provides practical tips for everyday problems.
- Employment Resources
Employment plays a pivotal role in adulthood. By using appropriate services and support and leveraging an individual’s strengths and abilities, employment is possible for most adults who experience Autism. Planning for future employment should be part of every child’s life plan and career pathways should be cultivated in adulthood.
- The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
TED Talk with Dr. Temple Grandin
Dr. Grandin describes her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of minds.
TED Talks Playlist
- The Autism Spectrum
Explore the science of autism -- and listen to the stories of people who live with it.