Employment and the Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

V. Final Thoughts

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Meaningful community employment is achievable for individuals with ASD.

Community Employment is the result of planning and preparation. Successful employment builds on the individual’s strengths and interests while supporting his needs and addressing barriers. Periodic review of the information in this guide will assist a team in the preparation and inform the planning. The resources may be accessed as needed as not every resource will be needed at every step of the plan.

Several important points to remember from the previous information in the guidelines:

Possibilities. The landscape is changing as employers are recognizing the value of diversity and the talents of individuals with ASD. This creates more opportunities and possibilities to leverage.

Core Principles. These principles for preparing for, obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment emphasizes the need for early family engagement, multi agency planning, individualization and use of multiple pathways. Implications for the individual with ASD in each of these areas suggest careful attention to the characteristics of ASD and the corresponding strategies and supports that enhance success.

Employment Preparation. Individuals with ASD may require the team to focus specialized attention, planning and support in three critical areas:

  1. Individualized Assessment. Assessment processes are person centered and must focus on adult life goals, skills, and interests. Assessment processes and those involved in the assessment must be sensitive to the unique characteristics of ASD for the information to be valid and useful.
  2. Authentic Experiences. Transition programs should include community work experiences in “real” settings with “real” jobs. Transition outcome studies (National Longitudinal Transition Study, 2009) indicate that students who participate in paid or unpaid work experiences in school have better employment outcomes.
  3. Functional Life Skills. Regardless of how capable an individual is, addressing the foundational skills of adult life is critical!

Targeted Strategies. Specific characteristics of ASD and the challenges that they may create require strategies and support. These areas include:

  • Sensory
  • Communication and Social Competency
  • Executive Function and Organization
  • Repetitive Routines and Need for Sameness

The Right Match. All people have unique characteristics that will impact the type of job the person needs to be successfully employed. Additionally, individuals with autism may have different support needs. Some characteristics displayed by individuals with autism can be beneficial in specific work settings when matched with the right job. Getting to know each individual and his or her interests and abilities will be key to a successful employment outcome.

Expect Success! Overcoming barriers to obtain meaningful community employment requires team members to raise expectations and believe everyone has talent to offer their community. Coming to the table focused solely on the difficulties ahead creates an atmosphere of doubt that can become the biggest hurdle. Expect Success and be amazed at what unfolds for youth with ASD on their Path to Employment!

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