Celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Currently, there are far too many adults with autism who are fully capable of succeeding and thriving in the workplace and are unemployed or underemployed. Adults with autism have a wide range of strengths and skills that make them very well-suited and qualified for a variety of jobs. It is time to make employers aware of their potential and expand employment opportunities for adults with autism! 

President Barack Obama acknowledged NDEAM in a recent Presidential Proclamation:

"During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we recognize the skills that people with disabilities bring to our workforce, and we rededicate ourselves to improving employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors for those living with disabilities. I urge all Americans to embrace the talents and skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities and to promote the right to equal employment opportunity for all people."

Click here to read more from President Obama's Proclamation.

Click here to see Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez discuss NDEAM.

Expert Speaks: Marcia Scheiner, President and Founder of Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership (ASTEP)

ASTEP creates and supports programs that promote long-term employment for individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA) through:

  • Educating employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with AS or HFA and the accommodations they may require.
  • Developing partnerships between Employers and Vocational Rehabilitation professionals to create a successful workplace environment.
  • Providing Managers and colleagues of AS/HFA employees with an understanding of the behavioral differences perhaps seen in their autism spectrum co-workers.

In a 2008 study of 200 families with transition age and adult children with an ASD, conducted by the University of Miami/Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, 74% of the respondents were unemployed and 74% of those employed worked less than 20 hours a week.

Click here to read a blog post from Marcia Scheiner about ASTEP and the need for autism awareness in the employment world.

Spotlight: Artistas Cafe at Mercedes Benz of Tampa

The mission of Artistas Café is to "Changing Lives One Bean at a Time". Artistas Café at Mercedez-Benz of Tampa in Florida provides training, internships and employment to young adults diagnosed with Autism. The first of its kind Café is located at Mercedes-Benz of Tampa and serves premium gourmet beverages and food items to its clients and employees. The proceeds from both programs support Javamo Art for Autism, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Visit the Mercedes-Benz of Tampa site to view a great video and find more information about this wonderful program!

Experience Speaks: Alisa and Cory Schaub

"My son Cory has Asperger's Syndrome. He started working at 15 years old for our neighborhood Kroger's Store. He was a sacker, and he was responsible for removing the shopping carts out of the parking lot. Now, 19 Cory is still working at Kroger, and now going to a community college. He now sometimes cashier's as well as sacking and carts. The manager at Kroger store was so receptive to hiring Cory, and in fact he's often told me that Cory is more responsible than his peers. I have always told him once you start something you don't quit. Our family constantly encourages him to succeed and to work hard regardless of whether or not it's in the work place or at school." - Alisa Schaub

"I have to work twice as hard as everyone else whether it's at work or at school. I ask a lot of question so that I understand what is expected from me by my employer and my professors." - Cory Schaub

"Cory is so great. He works so hard I wish I could clone him!" - Charles, Cory's manager at Kroger Food Store in Houston, TX

Autism Speaks Resources

Autism in the Workplace
Through our Autism in the Workplace project, Autism Speaks highlights individuals with autism who are working as well as testimonials from their employers. This page serves as a source of inspiration and resources for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as well as for prospective employers.

Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism
Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) is a national consortium seeking to create meaningful futures for adults with autism that include homes, jobs, recreation, friends and supportive communities. One of the major focuses of the AFAA initiative is Increasing employment opportunities for adults living with autism.

Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit
The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood. This Tool Kit contains a section on Employment and Other Options and includes information about types of employment, job matching, job preparation, and more!

October 2010 Community Connections: Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Autism
Last year's Community Connections in honor of NDEAM contains many other resources related to autism and employment.

Resource Guide
The Autism Speaks Resource Guide contains thousands of resources from across the country. Visit our Resource Guide and search for Employment Services in your state.

Autism and Employment in the News

US Labor Department awards more than $21 million in Disability Employment Initiative funding to 7 states
United States Department of Labor

The Influential Role of the Job Developer: Increasing Self-Determination and Family Involvement During the Job Search
Institute for Community Inclusion

Software startup succeeds at hiring young adults with autism by harnessing their unique skills
by Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press

Students with Autism Learn How to Succeed at Work
National Public Radio

Putting Adults with Autism to Work
by Laura Shumaker, writer and autism advocate

Other Autism and Employment Resources

Adult Autism and Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals
by Scott Standifer, PhD
A product of Disability Policy and Studies School of Health Professionals, University of Missouri

JobTIPS
A free program designed to help individuals with communication, socialization, and learning differences explore career interests, seek and obtain employment, and successfully maintain employment.

Project SEARCH
Project SEARCH is dedicated to providing education and training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through an innovative workforce and career development model that benefits the individual,workplace,and community.

Job Accomodation Network: JAN
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Resource Center
VCU-RRTC serves as a center of national excellence, providing resources for professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their representatives.