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- Autism & Asperger's Syndrome
Can People With Autism Work?
Can People with Autism Work?
The answer is almost always yes. However, there are many variables that help determine if a person with autism can find and keep employment. People with autism are very capable of working if we place them in the right kind of jobs for them.
Job matching is probably one of the most important things to look at when it comes to finding someone with autism a job. Most people on the spectrum are not going to be able to go to work every day and keep a job if they do not like the job.
This is an area where traditional vocational rehabilitation agencies are not very well-educated in. They tend to want to throw people with autism in any job and just hope for the best when they are setting that person with autism up for failure.
It would not be a good idea to place someone with autism in a fast food restaurant because there would be a lot of high energy things going on there and it would overwhelm them, and they would likely quit their job. Fast food is not the best option for someone with autism and if we can help it we should always try to steer people with autism away from the fast food industry.
There are also many people that do not really understand autism. These people think that people with autism should just grow up and go to work like there is nothing hard about it. It is nice that it is not hard for other people that are not on the autism spectrum but there are many social challenges that come along with finding a job for someone with autism.
If someone with autism was able to break through some of the social challenges that they have I think they would be a lot more successful at keeping the job. But because of the social challenges that get in the way you must be careful working with someone on the spectrum. The social challenges can be so significant that it prevents the person with autism from enjoying and keeping the job.
One thing that might happen for a guy with autism is that he could form a crush on women that he works with. This will cause him to start behaving strangely around them and then everyone will think that the person with autism is weird and creepy.
I have known many autistic people who have had to quit a job because they formed a crush on a girl that they worked with. It is important that we start to get more social supports in place for people with autism in the work place because the only reason people with autism fail at work is because they are socially inapt to get through the day at work.
Almost all people with autism are physically capable of doing their jobs but the social challenges are what cause the job to go bad and end. If we started placing social supports with people with autism at work instead of the more traditional job supports that we have in place now I think we will start to see a huge increase in the success rate of people with autism being able to keep jobs.
It is said that as much as eighty percent of people with autism do not have jobs and are not employed. Of the twenty percent that are employed most of them are underemployed and not fulfilling their potentials for keeping a job.
Currently we tend to focus only on what insurance companies will allow us to work on when working with someone with autism. One day it would be great if the insurance companies did not dictate what the treatment plan looked like and people with autism were able to make contributions into what they thought their treatment plan should look like.
We are a long way from this day though as insurance companies control pretty much everything in the world. The best thing we could do is to find a way to shift from only teaching daily adaptive living skills to teaching social skills as well.
It is okay to teach someone how to tie their shoes, but have we taught them how to socially interact with their peers? There is so much focus on the adaptive living skills that we seem to forget the importance of the higher functioning social skills like social thinking.
If we truly want people with autism to be more successful in the work place I feel that it will be important to work more on the higher functioning social skills to help, ensure people with autism are understanding their social world and environment around them.
What are some things that you could do to help people with autism succeed at work as a coworker? Have you ever worked with someone on the autism spectrum? You could always take time to talk to them every day and make sure they feel included in conversations in the work place. You do not have to do much just simply saying hello to someone with autism in the work place can make their day more enjoyable and increase the likelihood that they will keep coming to work.
It always hurts me when coworkers make fun of autistic people. I know that not everyone understands autism and the daily struggles someone with autism copes with but just having a little compassion and being sensitive to their disability would go a long way in helping them be more successful at work.
It is not that people with autism do not want to work it is that sometimes their social disabilities get in the way of working and cause them to have difficulties on the job. Some with autism get fired because of this while some with autism just walk away and quit their jobs because of making a social mistake at work.
Again, it is important to look at job matching and make sure that we are placing people with autism in the right jobs for their current skill sets and interests. If we cater more to the needs of the autistic person there is a greater chance that they will be able to keep the job and enjoy it.