A Conversation with John Taylor, Family Services Database Coordinator at Autism Speaks. Please check out our Employment Tool Kit to help you research, find and keep employment in the current, competitive labor market. Stories, tips and resources were developed from a collaboration of people, including adults with autism, dedicated to increasing the employment participation of adults on the spectrum.
What do you love most about your job?
The thing I love most about my job is the fact that I’m working for a cause. It’s very motivating to know I’m making a difference.
How does it feel to have found full-time work in a field that is important to you? Working full-time helps me feel like an adult. Officially, that happened over 10 years ago. But I’m sure you get the point.
What did you find to be the most helpful when you were looking for this job?
I had a very competent job coach who I still communicate with about once a month.
What was the most difficult part of looking for and applying for your job?
You know the famous catch-22. A job ad says 3-5 years’ experience is needed to apply. But, you can’t get that experience because every other job ad has the same requirements. Entry level jobs do exist, but it takes a lot more effort to find them. This is definitely not an autism-specific problem
Did you need to ask for any accommodations to help make your job as comfortable as possible for you?
If so, what accommodations did you ask for, and how did you ask for them? I did not exactly need to ask for any accommodations. But, I listen to music or something else to help me focus.
If you could share any advice with others who are on the spectrum and are looking for work, what would it be?
Tough one. The problem with my perspective is that I work for an organization that knows about autism, hence the name. Not everyone on the spectrum will be applying for such a job. But, nevertheless, some pointers:
· Ask for accommodations ASAP.
· Regarding accommodations, remember not to abuse them. Harsh as it may sound, there seem to be those who use autism as an excuse to do whatever. This could end up being a rant, so I’ll stop here.
· Many of us thrive on routines. It may take you a while to figure out one that works for you. As you progress in a job, you will be given more responsibilities. Sometimes you can continue with the same routine, other times you’ll have to figure out a new one.
· Schedule monthly meetings with your boss to stay on the same page.