People with autism spectrum disorder need jobs to live independently. But sadly, the respect of finding gainful employment is quite bleak for them. There’s a lack of research on employment rates for autistic adults across the globe. But conservative estimates suggest that more than 80% of autistic people don’t work. In Britain, only 12% of high-functioning autistic adults find full-time employment. Those with a more challenging form of autism, only 2% are able to land jobs.
Psychotherapy, life skills and job training can go a long way. A recent study in the US found that at least 87% of autistic youths who were assisted to land a job, could get one. On the other hand, only 6% of those who didn’t get a support were successful.
Assistance, in most countries, is terminated when an autistic individual ends full-time education. Esteban Maxis, a 25-year old NGO worker having Asperger’s syndrome, describes leaving school as “jumping off the cliff.” He’s no longer entitled to the social coaching that he used to get along with English and Mathematics classes. It’s difficult to judge the number of autistic adults who are actually capable to work. Nearly half of those affected with the disorder usually have above average intelligence. They often use “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps to help in their communication. But the level of intelligence is no indicator to an autistic person’s employability. He/she may score high in IQ tests but suffer from anxiety and can’t go far from home.
Contrary to popular belief, most people with autism spectrum disorder are willing to work. But high-functioning autistic adults have a much better chance to land a job than those who are severely affected.
The job interview is the first major hurdle. Most autistic persons struggle with social conventions like maintaining eye contact while speaking. While the “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps may help to a great extent, it’s the application of the mind at that point of time which matters most. Serena Gomez, who works with an animal rescue organization, recalls that in her first few interviews she didn’t know when to shake hands with the interviewer. She often prepares a script before meeting new people in an official environment.
Also, most autistic individuals speak bluntly. Team meetings don’t work for them. Autistic people usually have a single-minded pursuit. They want to focus the job at hand rather than discussing about the next weekend outing. This makes things difficult for people with autism who can’t indulge in friendly banter.