Employment and the Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Repetitive Behavior and the Need for Sameness Considerations for Assessment and Employment

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This video reflects high school instruction, however inclusive work practices can be adapted to give individuals with ASD the highest level of productivity no matter their preferred work experience.

Individuals with ASD may find sameness and routine offers predictability and comfort in a world that is often chaotic and confusing. Additionally, individuals on the spectrum may view the world through a unique lens that their colleagues and coworkers may not understand. By following routines and preparing for new tasks individuals with ASD can feel more comfortable with change. In the video above, Shannon a school practitioner describes how basic accommodations can be used for everyone and how beneficial it can be for individuals on the autism spectrum. Shannon explains that, “ Fair is not always equal.” This implies that if the work environments can be accommodated to meet the needs of the employee and demands of employer are also met, it is a win-win situation. If these accommodations are successful, they then replace the typical approach to the task or job for that person.

Identify Potential Concerns


Unexpected occurrences can impact the individual’s ability to work or to work at the usual rate and efficiency. Be aware of daily or life changes that may impact work such as:

  • Disruptions in daily transportation
  • Shopping in new or remodeled stores
  • Change in TV viewing schedule
  • Change in someone’s appearance (example: hair color)
  • Changes in living situation - even small changes such as moving furniture can be difficult
  • Change of season and time
  • Change within the support network. Births, deaths or other changes within those closest to the person (family, friends, coworkers, job coaches, roommates, etc.)

“Good Stress”

At times the disruption that triggers a problem may be something that most others consider pleasing, which can be confusing to coworkers and employers. For example:

  • Vacations or holidays
  • An unexpected “snow day” or day off from work
  • New furniture
  • A new work area
  • Assistance from others to help to lighten the workload
  • A new pet
  • Remodeling or painting for improvements

Routine Driven as a Strength for Employment

Routines on the Job

Routine-oriented behavior can be a strength when the routines can be aligned with the workplace or job schedules and tasks. In some situations, the job routines, such as hours and break times, can easily be adjusted to help the individual be more productive and successful. Supporting the individual and allowing time to modify routines to fit a new job can lead to successful employment.

The Right Fit

Some individuals develop routines that revolve around a special interest. While these topical interests may be viewed by some as interfering, in the right environment they can be an asset. Finding the job or career that aligns with the individual’s special interests or daily routines can be part of making the right match or the “right fit” for successful employment.


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