As addendums to the Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit, we have created three new tools to help adults with autism as they search for competitive employment in today's job market. The rate of unemployment and underemployment among young adults and adults with autism is far too high and Autism Speaks is committed to doing all we can to help change that. Check them out here:
Attention: We have established 2 new networking groups on LinkedIn - to connect members of the community around specific adult-related issues. Please join us!
- Autism Employment Network, powered by Autism Speaks
- Housing & Residential Supports Network, powered by Autism Speaks
Our Adult Services small business initiative hit the road in the fall of 2013!
Were you unable to attend a Town Hall meeting? View the final event below, hosted by Fenway Park in Boston!
Employment Tool Kit
The Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit was designed 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!
Click here to learn more and to download the Employment Tool Kit!
Be sure to check our "Adults with Autism in the News" page for the top 10 recent news stories about adults with autism. There, you'll find regularly updated links to new and inspiring stories about individuals with autism who have found success in the workplace!
Autism Speaks Employment Think Tank Executive Summary
The Autism Speaks Employment Think Tank was an intensive two-day think tank which took place in June 2012. The discussion focused on the role of adults with ASD in the workforce and on the needs of the current labor market. Key conclusions include insights from business leaders about the effectiveness of employees with autism and recommendations that include possible changes to the traditional job interview. Read the report here!
Highlighting Individuals with Autism in the Workplace
Autism Speaks Family Services is pleased to highlight individuals with autism who are working as well as testimonials from their employers. This page should serve as a source of inspiration and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as well as for prospective employers.
Below are the stories of some individuals who are currently working in various fields captured on video. In addition to the videos, there are summaries of the steps involved in helping these individuals achieve success in a workplace environment.
"Hire Me" is a public service video that was created to educate businesses and other stakeholders in Orange County, CA (and beyond) about the job successes that are taking place in their community for young adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities. The video focuses on the abilities of this under-explored human resource. In knowing the possibilities that exist for partnerships, its creators hope that additional businesses will work with area professions to develop jobs in all industries in Orange County.
This video was produced by Inclusion Films, which offers a Practical Film Workshop designed to provide adults with autism an entry-level working knowledge of film production. Students are then encouraged to apply for a position at their own production company, Team Diversity Media, as well as seek employment in the film industry through other avenues. Services provided include public service announcements, electronic press kits, press releases and promotions.
The following video comes courtesy of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC). It features Matt McMahon, the father of a young adult with autism and a joint venture partner with Outback Steakhouse. Matt discusses his passion for creating employment opportunities for differently-abled individuals, and credits the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) for helping him and his employees develop a model that has been successful for everyone involved. Also featured are young men named Chris, Kevin and Michael who discuss their experiences as paid employees at Outback.
To learn more and to view additional employment videos from the ADDPC, click here.
To read more about Matt McMahon and his son, and how Outback Steakhouse collaborates with SARRC employment services, click here.
"Passwerk is a unique concept, a unique company with unique people. Passwerk combines its business with a social dimension and offers this as an added value to its customers. Passwerk is in the “convergence market”. The Passwerk organisation adapts to the profile of its employees and not the other way round. The employees, the results and the development of its employees are at the heart of Passwerk.
Passwerk employs the qualities of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with normal ability, in software testing activities. Through the professional management, by means of job coaching, the restrictions of employees with ASD are overcome."
"Because of their autism spectrum disorder, Passworkers have special qualities. The combination of their innate natural talents with professional training and coaching sees Passworkers excel at software testing (system tests, user acceptance tests and regression tests) and quality assurance assignments (for instance drawing up user instruction manuals, data cleansing, data and text migration, data checks, data entry, interactive scanning, etc.), amongst other duties."
To learn more about Passwerk in Belgium, visit them here.
"The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the U.S. Department of Labor is committed to improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. To achieve this goal, ODEP established a Customized Employment initiative to build the capacity of workforce systems to serve all customers, including individuals with disabilities. The strategies developed through this initiative can assist all workforce customers who have complex needs and may require more individual assistance to achieve their employment goals. The Customized Employment initiative also focuses on incorporating universal strategies into all aspects of workforce services."
Click here for two concise and comprehensive guides to the practice of Customized Employment from the ODEP and the National Center on Workforce & Disability (NCWD).
"Autism and Employment", an "Autism in the Workplace - Job Success!"
This video is courtesy of Craig Evans, creator of the Youtube channel "AutismHangOut". Mr. Evans attended a conference entitled "Autism and Employment: First Annual Forum" on Februrary 17, 2011 on the 3M corporate campus in St. Paul, MN. The event was sponsored by the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) and featured speakers including Temple Grandin. This video, however, focuses on the information presented by 3M, Cargill, and Best Buy about how "people on the spectrum make wonderful employees."
According to Mr. Evans, "all three companies are now looking for and hiring people on the spectrum for their unique strengths and values. Based on their success stories, clearly it's paying off. Hopefully, this 'good news' will be heard by the HR departments of any business needing reliable, honest, intelligent, skilled employees."
Anthony Barrett is a 24-year-old man with autism who lives in Edmonton, Canada. Anthony At Your Service is a Monday-to-Friday service that will deliver anything that can fit in a car and that Anthony can lift. They promise next-day delivery, anywhere in the city of Edmonton, for $10. Possible deliveries include mail, parcels, tailoring, dry-cleaning and other errand-running, and Anthony is open to suggestions from others.
Anthony At Your Service is a for-profit business started by Mike Hamm (Anthony's assistant) and Deborah Barrett (Anthony's Mom) for Anthony as a way for him to learn new skills, meet new people, and make some money. Anthony is excited about his business. All profits got to Anthony.
True Meaning Jewelry (TMJ) is an entrepreneurial business started by New England Village Day Services to address the ongoing challenges faced by employment programs in securing work opportunities for adults with autism spectrum disorders and other related developmental disabilities that are both meaningful and rewarding to the individual.
Click here to read about the steps put in place to make True Meaning Jewelry a successful work environment for individuals with autism.
*Click here to read a blog post by Tracey Daigneau, M.Ed., Director of Day Services at New England Village.
*Autism Speaks is proud to sell TMJ jewelry. Click here to visit the Autism Speaks store!
Roses for Autism, a 501(c)3 a subsidiary of Ability Beyond Disability, is committed to establishing the model for training and employing adults with autism. The Employment Training Program at Roses for Autism provides an opportunity for teens and adults to gain the necessary work skills needed for competitive employment.
Click here to read about the steps put in place to make Roses for Autism a successful work environment for individuals with autism.
*Note: Roses for Autism was a recipient of a 2011 Family Services Community Grant. Click here to learn more about our Community Grants program!
Ken's Krew enables individuals with intellectual disabilities to successfully enter the world of work by providing access to good jobs and to professional training and support to prepare for and sustain employment.
Below is a video that shows Thomas Brown, a young man on the autism spectrum who works at The Home Depot. Thomas' story is just one example of the many successful job matches made through Ken's Krew.
UM-NSU CARD, which provides services to individuals in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties in Florida, is a comprehensive outreach and support program serving people with autism and related disabilities, their families, and the professionals who work with them. UM-NSU CARD operates under the supervision of a constituency board comprised of family members who help guide program policy priorities and activities. CARD seeks to provide support and assistance with the goal of optimizing the potential of people with autism, dual sensory impairment, and related disabilities.
Executive Director Michael Alessandri, Ph.D, discusses two different individual's gainful employment in this video entitled Adult Success Stories. Alessandri's commentary is mixed with personal testimony from the employees about their positive experiences.
Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism in Commack, New York offers hope to people with autism and their families by providing high quality life-long support through services which enable people with autism to function better in everyday life. NSSA offers the most advanced treatment and training programs for the benefit of people with autism, and will continue to pioneer, through research, comprehensive treatment models which can be adopted nationally.
Shelley:This clip contains commentary by Shelley Ourian and her supervisor, Bonnie Eisert of Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism in Commack, New York. The video documents and discusses Shelley's journey from a supervised internship to being successfully employed as a teaching assistant.
Click here to see steps put in place.
Andy: Through Nassau Suffolk Services, Andy Williams is successfully working at Great Neck Plaza Village Hall in Great Neck, New York. This video features commentary from Andy's supervisor, as well as footage of Andy at work.
Click here to see steps put in place.
Attention! The U.S. Department of Labor has made available approximately $20 million in grants to fund cooperative agreements that will improve educational, training and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities! Click here to learn more.
Check it out! The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has announced its first disability-related application (app) challenge! It is designed to generate innovative tools that will improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. Maybe you can win!
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Each week, we focused on a different aspect of employment for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), featured in blogs, news stories, and “Live Chats” with experts every Thursday at 4pm! Click here to read more of our materials from NDEAM.
Live Chat with Professors Paul Wehman and Carol Schall of the Virginia Autism Resource Center and Virginia Commonwealth University
Paul Wehman, Ph.D. has served as the Director for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU-RRTC) for over 29 years. He is a Professor of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Chairman of Rehabilitation Research with a joint appointment in the Departments of Special Education and Disability Policy and Rehabilitation Counseling. He has written, co-authored, or edited 42 commercially published books and written over 200 journal articles. He is on several editorial boards and has been Editor of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation for 18 years. Dr. Wehman is the parent of two children with disabilities.
Carol Schall, Ph.D. is the Director of Technical Assistance of the Autism Center for Excellence at Virginia Commonwealth University and the principal investigator of a randomized clinical trial of Project Search for students with ASD. She is co-editor and author of Autism and the Transition to Adulthood: Success Beyond the Classroom. Dr. Schall participated in the Autism Speaks Employment Think Tank in June, 2012.
Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L, director of the Assistive Technology for Cognition (ATC) Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) created this video to introduce strategies for using video modeling to assist people with autism with things like wayfinding, social cueing, task sequencing and behavioral prompting - all techniques that can be very effecive accommodations in the workplace! Check out the video here, and for more information from the VCU Autism Center for Excellence page on Technology and ASD, click here!