Many adults with autism unemployed or underemployed, think tank report offers solutions
New York, NY (October 2, 2012) – To kick off National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Autism Speaks today released a summary of an intensive two-day think tank that took place in June on the role of adults with autism spectrum disorders in the workforce and the needs of the current labor market. Participants in the June event included individuals with autism and their family members, business leaders, small business owners, service providers and academic researchers.
Key conclusions include insights from business leaders about the effectiveness of employees with autism, promising practices that can advance hiring, and action steps towards a national agenda. Recommendations include possible changes to the traditional job interview, clarifying expectations in written job descriptions, and starting job training as part of a high school transition plan. Business leaders also recommend grooming and training supervisors as job coaches and promoting the inclusion of employees with autism as part of a diverse workplace culture.
“As a society, we need to start creating pathways for fulfillment and success for the adults with autism who are looking for work now, as well as the estimated 500,000 teens and young adults who will enter adulthood in the next decade,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of family services. “Individuals living with autism deserve the opportunity to contribute as productive workers in appropriate employment settings, paying taxes while improving their quality of life. And employers need to know that hiring individuals with autism is good for business and for society at large.”
The new report begins a month-long series of initiatives by Autism Speaks to address the pressing issue of employment for adults with autism that will also include weekly blog posts and live chats with employers, employment experts, employees with autism and others, along with news articles and videos from successful job placements.
During October, Autism Speaks will explore a series of employment-related themes:
- The experience and perspective of adults with autism
- Public/private collaborations to create employment opportunities
- Employers’ perspectives on hiring and retaining workers with autism
- The use of technology in the workplace
In November, Autism Speaks will unveil its Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit, which will give a step-by-step tool for adults with autism to gain and keep employment.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $180 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in over 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.