Autism & Employment

See also:    Adult Issues    Bullying   

Internet Resources

Challenges presented by autism can be met, and adults who are severely disabled by autism can be successfully employed in nonsheltered settings if provided with sufficient support and monitoring.
Marcia Datlow Smith, Patricia Juhrs
In order to be a successful litigant under ADA, the claimant must have disclosed his or her disability to the employer, and requested reasonable accommodation. If you disclose your autism now, that has a mixed set of consequences. In your letter of disclosure (not a verbal statement) to your immediate supervisor with CC's to the Human Resources Division, you must be careful not to disclose "too much," and to emphasize, in your request for accommodation, those reasonable measures calculated to assure and enhance your performance. Remember, the term is "reasonable" and another term to keep in mind is "disclosure." What they know from what you tell them, and how they use that knowledge is subject to interpretation
Roger N. Meyer
Each of the articles linked below offers a different description of my 2001 book. Since its publication, this first book addressing adult employment of AS individuals has been joined by several others which have addressed specialized issues of preparation for career choice.
Roger N. Meyer
This article is intended to help adults with AS to analyze employability, plan for any reasonable remediation of weaknesses, and identify the characteristics of jobs where adults with AS are most likely to feel comfortable and succeed.
Kate Collins-Wooley
Let's give them some preparation, give them some safety nets, but get them out there -- and give them the chance to blast past our expectations.
Dan Coulter
A conference in Edinburgh has been highlighting the business case for employing people with the condition... whereas most people would see an interview as a hurdle to getting a job, people with Asperger's see it more as a "pole vault". Only one in 10 people with the condition are in full-time employment. The NAS hopes Thursday's conference will help get those with the condition back into the jobs market and highlight their skills for businesses to tap into... Mr. Walker gave an example of a company in Denmark which checked mobile phone software and where almost all of the employees were on the Asperger spectrum. "They are highly motivated people, very methodical," he said. "They will find the bugs." "This company has chosen to use people with people on the Asperger spectrum as much as they can because its a positive asset for that kind of work."
British Broadcasting Corporation is a website to promote the entrepreneurial (self employment) skills of people diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum world-wide and to provide links to Autie-Friendly businesses of various kinds. is run by a small committee of people formally diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum and those who diagnosed members deem to be 'Autie-Friendly' with a view to: * Promoting public awareness of the wide range of employable skills of ALL people on the Autistic Spectrum at all levels of functioning and ability. * Provide the possibility for people on the Autistic Spectrum to advertise their skills directly to potential hirers. * Provide listings of goods/skills/services which are believed to be particularly 'Autie-Friendly' * Provide potential peers/mentors to those interested in learning similar skills from someone who is, themselves, on the Autistic Spectrum. * Provide a model of self-determination for those on the Autistic Spectrum outside the control of non-Autistic professionals and their Agencies, especially where those services are, for various reasons, lacking. * If necessary, provide an affordable Autie-run, Autie friendly consultancy service to help newcomers in understanding the basics of employable skills, self employment, dealing with the public, keeping safe and self promotion necessary to getting paid work.
What follows is an in-depth examination of Nutty Professors, in which I elucidate the concealed meanings of Brottman's disparaging analysis of cognitively and culturally distinctive citizens, and of her former colleagues, each of whom she concludes is "one of them." I analyze the author's use of emotionally charged, biased language to describe both autistic citizens and individuals with whom she has come into conflict; unveil her unarticulated assumptions and her pretext of superiority, which she asserts by highlighting the perceived inferiority of others; and reveal the extent to which the article constitutes a declaration of intent to engage in illegal, disability-based discrimination in hiring decisions by a staff member of the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Kathleen Seidel,
Enables educators to engage youth and adults in learning and career development experiences that lead to meaningful and productive careers.
Employment Seeking Plan: Climbing the Ladder to Success!
Jobs should have a well-defined goal or endpoint. Sell your work, not your personality. Make a portfolio of your work. The boss must recognize your social limitations.
Temple Grandin
Applicants need to begin the position-seeking process with a thorough self-analysis, for they cannot determine whether either general or specific positions are best for them, or answer questions insightfully, if they do not know themselves.
Nola Kortner Aiex
I have a very eclectic approach in working with "people with." As you might imagine, as a person "with" myself, there are some constitutional impediments. But they are more than compensated for by having learned in the school of life's hard knocks. Whoever says we don't have common sense is a bit daft: they simply haven't met the same folks I have, nor could they spot common sense if it bit them on the nose. What to some is common sense is plain gibberish to others, but in working with Asperger Syndrome (AS) adults I've learned never to assume anything and to approach each person with as much of an open mind as possible.
Roger N. Meyer
Patrick Roberts, 48, was sacked from his job with Customs and Excise when representatives from the LTS union described his behaviour as "a health and safety risk" to his fellow workers. Mr Roberts was disciplined following accusations that he deliberately shoved into female colleagues and listened in on their conversations.
CSAAC provides each person with the training and support necessary to achieve and maintain employment in the individual's chosen career field.
Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children, Inc.
If our leading advocacy organizations are serious about increasing job opportunities for people with disabilities, here's how they should focus their lobbying efforts in the next congressional session: Demand that Congress hold hearings on SSA's abuse of disabled Americans. I want to turn on C-SPAN one day next spring, and find SSA's top officials squirming nervously in front of a panel of irate Representatives. After weeks of intense grilling, I want a Congressional subcommittee to mandate some real changes, like requiring SSA to follow its own rules, and to stop making up new ones as they go along.
Laura Hersey
Few supported employment programmes have been specifically designed for people with autism, especially those who are more able. This study examines the outcome of a supported employment service (NAS Prospects) for adults with autism or Asperger syndrome (IQ 60+) over an 8 year period. Approximately 68 percent of clients found employment. Of the 192 jobs, the majority were permanent contracts and most involved administrative, technical or computing work. Assessment of current clients indicates that IQ, language skills and educational attainments are high. However, work has also been found for those of lower abilities. Individuals supported by Prospects show a rise in salaries, contribute more tax and claim fewer benefits. Satisfaction with the scheme is high among clients, employers and support workers. Although the programme continues to incur a financial deficit, this has decreased. Moreover, there are many non-financial benefits, which are difficult to quantify. The importance of specialist employment support of this kind is discussed.
Patricia Howlin et al
Only six per cent of people with ASD have a full-time job compared to 49% of people with general disabilities, and the NAS feels that the positive experiences of employers can be highlighted to help increase the figure.
HR Gateway
It is critical to look in terms of not just matching the worker with autism spectrum disorder to the job but also to the work environment. You are matching their sensitivities and their motivators to the sensory stimuli and the reinforcers in the work environment... If the person fits into the social and the sensory milieu of a workplace, the chances of success go up so dramatically for a worker with autism spectrum disorder.
James Emmett
Studies finding a negative effect of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the employment of people with disabilities have used the work disability measure, which has several potential problems in measuring employment trends. Using Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data that permit alternative measures of disability, this study finds decreased employment among those reporting work disabilities in the first few years after the ADA was passed but increased employment when using a more probably appropriate measure of ADA coverage (functional and activity limitations that do not prevent work). State-by-state variation in labor market tightness is used to find that people with disabilities may have especially procyclical employment, but the contrary results in overall employment trends remain after accounting for labor market tightness. Given the problems in measuring who is covered by the ADA, there is reason to be cautious of both positive and negative findings.
Douglas Kruse, Lisa Schur
Often for persons with the most severe behavioral disorders the environmental factors of the job are the most important components in determining a successful placement match and in targeting industries and searches for employment opportunities.
Patricia Juhrs
The essential features of Asperger's are being unable to adequately intrepret non-verbal communication and to understand and apply the unspoken rules of interviewing. It is also very difficult to present proper appearances when required.
Christopher Marsh
Employers need to be more tolerant of differences, because people with autism do not act like people who do not have autism. That is not going to change. What needs to change is the attitudes towards people with autism and other disabilities.
Jean-Paul Bovee
Hawkins Institute was founded in 1995 by Gail Hawkins to offer a service that helps people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and more able autism acquire vocational skills and find meaningful work. Our job is to make our client's own mission possible. We currently enjoy a 92% success rate in finding meaningful employment for our clients and are often able to place an individual in about twelve weeks after the initial Foundation Building program. Since it opened, Hawkins Institute has helped hundreds of people with Asperger Syndrome reach their employment potential.
Gail Hawkins
A supported employment scheme is not primarily about getting a job - indeed that might not be the difficult part; rather it is about helping someone develop the skills to keep a job.
Many students with special needs may have trouble seeing themselves as employees or understanding an employer's expectations of an employee. Students with special needs can learn how to work effectively and can succeed in the workplace.
Julie Coulter
IS2D is a new, not for profit company that works within a social model framework to remove barriers and promote equality of opportunity for people with the label of Autism or Asperger Syndrome. We aim to work through issues relating to discrimination and equality in order to enable the development of partnerships.
International toll-free consulting service that provides information about job accommodations and the employability of people with disabilities
Dear Bob -- I have a condition called Asperger Syndrome, which means that I need certain accommodations to be able to do my work effectively, the main ones being a high degree of solitude and a very quiet environment (other things would be helpful as well, but those two are by far the most important). This isn't simply a personal preference, as it is with many other people; if I don't have these things, I simply can't work. When, if ever, should I discuss this during the job search?
Important clues that led to my diagnosis included difficulties working with other people within teams. A solitary childhood was pivotal too, as is a reasonably isolated adult life. An interesting speech abnormality failure which I have always had is referring to oneself consistently as "one" or "we," and never the more usual "I" or "me."
Anonymous, BMJ Career Focus
When funds are limited federal regulations specify that individuals with the most severe handicaps (MSH) are selected for service before any other groups of handicapped individuals. Unfortunately autism is excluded from the definition of MSH.
Patricia Juhrs
In 2004, I presented at Autreat on issues of employment among autistic people. Many autistic people find employment extremely challenging at best, a living hell at worst. This presentation attempts to suggest where to look for employment and how to negotiate for accommodations to the workplace environment. When autistics are employed in areas of their interests and working for managers who have the flexibility to allow people to work in ways that may not be "typical", autistics are often able to thrive.
Joel Smith
In major metropolitan population centers and heavily urbanized states, vocational rehabilitation clients have their cases framed starting with what they can't do rather than what they can do. Vocational rehabilitation as taught and practiced depends for its very survival upon a system of providers and a group of beneficiaries. Even changing the term to "consumers" or "participants" doesn't alter the fact that the model for evaluation and the benchmarks of client success and progress with their individualized plans of employment (IPE's) is fraught with the vocabulary of medicine and and psychobabble.
Roger N. Meyer
I agree with my fellow NLD adults that others do not understand how we struggle in life, despite our intellectual abilities. I have struggled in terms of finding a career, and I know that many other NLD adults have had difficulty in this area as well.
Al Vadon
You bet there are additional jobs and careers that fit well with adults who have NLD and related conditions!!
Kelli Bond
Adults with autism are emerging as people who very often require a continuation of the intensive training they received in childhood and adolescence in their educational years.
David Holmes
The results showed that many barriers differ according to the industry sector and that the majority of barriers pertain to the nature of the work.
Jacques Barrette et al
A new scheme to help people with developmental disabilities find jobs was rolled out today following research showing only a small number are in full-time work. Prospects London, part of the National Autistic Society's (NAS) employment consultancy, has unveiled Transitions, an initiative to get recent graduates and final-year students with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, into work.
Rosamond Hutt
Employees with NLD often have trouble with: visualization, seeing the big picture, thinking on their feet, information presented in graph/chart/table form, directionality with adaptation to change, reading nonverbal signals and cues, and practical math.
Kelli Bond
What autistics, whether we can "pass" or not, are asking for is that other people leave room for us. Us as we are. Even if we "look autistic" or "act autistic" or use alternate means of communication. Don't require that we look and sound like you, because some of us can't. Don't judge us on the job (or during the job interview) according to how well we perform the social dance. Give us a chance to show what we can do when who we are is allowed to help shape the world we share with you.
Jane Meyerding
During my 30 years of working in the caring profession the best carers I have met - without a shadow of doubt - are those without official professional qualifications.
Colin Raine
Mikita Brottman's spasm of bigotry, Nutty Professors, provoked a righteous outcry upon its original publication in the September 16 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In this article, the newly minted Interim Chair of the Maryland Institute College of Art Department of Language, Literature and Culture (who also makes inflated claims of expertise in psychology), questions the fitness for employment in academia of individuals whom she suspects qualify for an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis, and finds them damningly uncollegial and worthy of ostracism... The following is a compilation of published and unpublished letters to editors in response to "Nutty Professors" and its hideous spawn, as well as one pointed missive sent directly to Ms. Brottman.
Kathleen Seidel et al,
Few companies expose the irony of Americans' selective judgments better than McDonald's. From Morgan Spurlock's slam flick Supersize Me to Merriam-Webster's recent addition of "McJob" to signify a dead-end position, McDonald's has become everyone's favorite punching bag. But while society shakes its fists about fat content or the purported evils of minimum-wage work, precious little attention has been paid to the fact that McDonald's is one of relatively few employers willing to give workers like Amanda a chance. We also forget that the burger chain has been at the forefront of aiding youth in other ways. Since 1974, Ronald McDonald House charities have housed 10 million families with terminally ill children while they undergo treatment. Many restaurant chains are involved with charities to some degree, but how many of them can say they've raised a half-billion dollars?
Parents, take note: There is often a light at the end of the tunnel. Teachers, list carefully the irritating negative behaviors in your students and imagine which ones might eventually contribute to adult success.
Sally Smith
...academe is generally considered a more welcoming environment than most for people with autism. They get paid to talk at length about their area of interest in a realm where eccentricity and limited social skills are often seen as signs of genius rather than cause for scorn. "Universities are probably the place where we get the kindest treatment, where we are respected and valued the most," says Mr. Perner.
Michelle Diament
Take the SDS and find a job that matches your skills and interests. Over 20 million people worldwide have used the SDS to make informed career choices.
As children get older they tend to separate into two groups. For one type of child the teacher can jerk open the front door; and for the other type, the teacher must sneak quietly through the back door.
Temple Grandin
Whether your co-workers are immature or not, you will always most likely be working in environments with colleagues whose intellect may well be beneath yours, but whose social skills may be more highly developed. Regardless of what you think of your co-workers' level of knowledge or maturity, rest assured that they "know the ropes" that you can't even see. Those are the unwritten rules of social conduct. Your knowledge and subject-expertise is not the only basis for your employment, either for being hired or for being retained. Unfortunately, unless you are so skilled that your knowledge can almost stand by itself in a social vacuum, you may always have challenges with working with others, or figuring out "the office politics." That's just the way it is.
Roger N. Meyer
We offer to solve test and documentation tasks for the corporate sector where the employees can use the special gifts of autism: extraordinary sense of detail, good memory, persistence, precision and regularity. Our goal is by the end of this year to have 24 people with autistic competences working at solving tasks on a high level for the corporate sector.
An exploration into dual citizenship (homosexuality and autism) and changing the work environment for everyone's benefit. Presented for the Out & Equal conference in Minneapolis.
Terry Walker
A residential institute with a capacity of 60, and now accommodating 45 clients, all of which are people with heavy autism and with IQ below 19, aging between 20 and 42, with an average age of 28.8.
Masataka Oba
Powerpoint presentation for workshop to Autism Cymru delegates in Cardiff
Sara Hounsell
"At this point, supported employment has moved beyond the status of an experimental treatment to being an evidence-based practice," Cook said in an interview. "However, as noted in the 2003 report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, the large majority of individuals with severe mental illness are not receiving supported employment, and it is not being made available to them. "We know the model works, we know how to deliver the services (there is currently a toolkit for providers of supported employment), and we have large-scale surveys showing that people with severe mental illness want to work. What we need now is the national will to allocate time and money to policies and program changes that make supported employment more widely available."
Joan Arehart-Treichel, Psychiatric News
A young entrepreneur who suffers from a form of autism, has launched a Norfolk web design company that is already attracting clients from as far a field as America.
This employer must be taught that turning his or her back on behavior of this kind opens the company up to a major civil damages lawsuit. Since Josh is disabled and if he has disclosed his disability to the employer, or the employer has reason to know that he is disabled, that automatically starts the ADA clock ticking. If anything you have said to the employer mentioned that he is AS or disabled, that's it. The clock is running.
Roger N. Meyer
There are some persons with AS who cannot work. This is a painful message for some parents to hear. By saying this, I am not closing the door, nor do I wish to suggest that work isn't possible sometime in the future. The adult service system in this country can penalize some disabled adults in a way that makes working very difficult, often forcing the choice between whether the person wishes to remain on SSI or some other type of categorical assistance, or go off the assistance and take their chance in market-rate employment. This will be true despite the effect of the new Workforce Investment Act just passed but delayed for implementation by Congress.
Roger N. Meyer
This study has drawn on the perspectives of adults with ASDs in an effort to better understand the strategies necessary for improving workplace outcomes. Whenever possible, we have sought to describe experiences, obstacles, and recommendations for improved vocational services in participants' own words.
Eve Müller, Adriana Schuler, Barbara A. Burton, Gregory B. Yates
Since persons disabled by autism often have difficulty generalizing from one setting to another, social skills training at the actual job site might be necessary to maximize the likelihood of useful skill acquisition.
Marcia Datlow Smith
One employee of a multinational company... claims that virtual teams particularly suit the "socially challenged" employee who is not able to function well in teams that involve face-to-face interaction and therefore wishes to avoid them.
Information, resources and research about work and disability issues.

Opinions expressed by the authors of pages to which this site links do not necessarily reflect this site developer's opinions. In other words: Sublime or ridiculous? You decide!
Copyright © 2004-2008, Kathleen Seidel. All rights reserved.
This page was last updated on 5 November 2008, 3:48 pm
Hosted by TextDrive