Although demands for employment services for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are increasing, currently there are few specialized services available and not much is known about how best to support those with AS.However, there are some strategies which may help empower young adults with AS to achieve rewarding, satisfying employment, and make meaningful contributions to their community and society as a whole.Strategies discussed here will emphasize the fundamentals, or “employment philosophies,” such as helping the individual realize what employment actually means, what jobs are like, and some of the realities of employment.
“What jobs are involved in making this computer and getting it to me? This will help enormously in exposing the young adult to a variety of jobs (not only the individual s/he is shadowing, but also all the others who work there), work environments, and realities of employment.
” Answers could include designing the computer, manufacturing the parts of the computer, buying the parts from other companies that go into the computer, software design, managing the people that do these jobs, sales and marketing, accounting, advertising, shipping, retail, etc. Better still, actually volunteering at a company or organization will enable young adults to get hands on experience and try out different jobs.
This exercise can help the adolescent recognize the huge variety of possible jobs (e.g.
sales clerk, manager, construction worker, engineer, librarian, etc.).
Yet individuals with AS bring many strengths to the work place, such as attention to detail, trustworthiness, reliability, and low absenteeism.
In addition, aspects of jobs that other employees may find unattractive, including social isolation or repetitiveness, often appeal to persons with AS.
Due to the abstract nature of imagining what a particular job would be like, it can be difficult for anyone to decide what job might be a good match.
Constant observation and discussion of what other people are doing while you are out in the community can be helpful.
It is also important that young adults with AS have opportunities to gain insight in to the huge variety of job options available and what these jobs are like.
Well before high school graduation, adolescents can be encouraged to consider what career paths may suit them.
Adolescents can be encouraged to ask themselves questions such as: What would these jobs be like? Another useful strategy is simply asking people the young adult meets (including friends and relatives) questions about their jobs such as: How did you get your job? In addition, they can record these experiences on their resume, and have sources for obtaining references.