How to support successful transition and employment for adults with autism
Last week Patricia Wright, Rethink’s Vice President of Professional Services, appeared on Sirius XM’s Doctor Radio with Autism Speaks‘ Director of Adult Services, David Kearon, to discuss how to better support successful employment for adults with autism.
According to the most recent studies, about 50,000 young adults with autism enter adulthood every year, with this number expected to grow. 80-90% of these adults are either unemployed or underemployed.
During this broadcast, Wright and Kearon discussed some of the reasons behind why adults with autism experience such extreme underemployment and talked about how educators, families, communities, and employers can better support them.
Wright pointed out that while it can be extremely difficult for a person with autism to find successful employment, with the right supports and accommodations every adult with autism can be employed. One thing Wright believes we could do a better job of is beginning transition planning earlier. “It’s never too early to start transition planning,” she said. While by federal law transition planning must begin by age 16, only 58% of students with autism have a transition plan by the federally mandated age.
Patricia introduced listeners to Rethink’s Transition Curriculum, a part of its comprehensive online solution for special educators, which supplies teachers with lesson plans, task analyses, and printable materials to prepare their students for the life skills they will need for successful employment and independence once they leave high school.
While it is important to prepare people with autism for the workplace, employers also need to prepare for them. Both Wright and Kearon urged employers to consider autism, and the social/emotional deficits that often come along with it, like any other physical disability: In the same way that you wouldn’t ask a person in a wheelchair to stand during a meeting, a person with autism should not be expected to perform tasks or behave in ways made impossible by their disability.
They stressed that one of the greatest tasks for those of us working in the field is to educate employers and promote programming that will support people with autism in the workplace.
A recent program launched by Autism Speaks in collaboration with Rangam Consultants Inc., is Spectrum Careers. Spectrum Careers is new jobs portal designed to connect individuals with autism with employers. Kearon shared with listeners how the portal supports employees by helping them find jobs that will specifically suit their skill sets but also accommodate their unique needs as employees. For instance, for an individual who may have sensory issues, the site provides photos of employer’s office environments and workspaces to help them determine if the company would be a right fit for them.
Listen to the Broadcast On Demand You can listen to the entire conversation on Sirius XM Channel 81. The show is now available On Demand for subscribers. If you do not have a subscription, you can sign up for a free trial here!