Transition Youth and Employment

Core Principle 4

There are multiple pathways to employment

Successful pathways to employment for individuals with ASD are diverse and extremely individualized. There is NO "one shoe fits all" thinking when it comes to employment for individuals with ASD. They can hold career positions in higher education, corporations, medicine, entertainment, retail, manufacturing, food services, and more. Some choose the path of entrepreneurship. Individuals with ASD fill multiple roles in their career paths. Some excel at technologically-based jobs while others may enjoy predictable routines such as stocking, packing or assembly. Still others find employment that is physically challenging to be a good match for their skills and sensory needs.

Identifying the employment goal as early as possible allows the youth and team to plan the pathway. Some youth will need to continue their careers in college while others may need a technical school. Some will require direct instruction and support. Others may need to spend extended time exploring possibilities in order to identify the necessary pathway. One rule remains true when it comes to career development for all individuals with ASD... "When you have done career development for one person with ASD... you've done career development for one person with ASD!" The resulting steps on the path to employment will always be unique to each person with ASD.

Implications for transition teams:

  • Age Appropriate Transition Assessment data must focus directly on identifying not only an employment goal, but also the types of experiences, supports and education required for the youth with ASD to be successful.

  • The use of a Discovery process can surface authentic information about the person that can be used to help define the individual pathway to employment. This can be especially helpful for youth with ASD who frequently do not respond well to standardized tools or assessments.

  • Seek out flexibility in employment planning and employment supports and services for individuals with ASD to achieve competitive, integrated employment. Do not assume that any conventional program or employment service will be sufficient to result in meaningful employment.

  • Plan for coaching support to continue for an extended period of time, beyond the initial months of employment. Encourage the individual to include his/her direct supervisor in the discussion in order to plan what will work best for the individual and the employer. Individuals with ASD may have great difficulty generalizing their skills and knowledge across the workplace without support. Sometimes this requires a formal service and sometimes natural supports can be developed.


Pathways to Employment for Transition Aged Youth and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

This free one hour webinar will review the research regarding employment outcomes for youth with ASD as well as review 3 important pathways to employment.


The Right Match: Employment

Gather information about an individual's needs, supports, and desires related to employment using this informal tool. The Right Match assists in identifying the best match between a potential employment situation and a specific person. Special attention is paid to areas of concern for individuals with ASD.


Asperger Syndrome Employment Workbook: An Employment Workbook for Adults with Asperger Syndrome

This manual will enable the reader to enhance self-understanding and to appreciate how employment can impact quality of life. The manual offers a self-paced exploration to identify the work best suited for personal needs, talents and strengths.

Available through the Lending Library at OCALI.


Autism Doesn’t Hold Me Back. I’m Moving Up The Career Ladder

Individuals on the autism spectrum demonstrate successful employment in a variety of careers. Included in this article is a short video that highlights reasonable accommodations provided for a young woman with Asperger Syndrome that allow her to excel in her employment.


The Hidden Curriculum of Getting And Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment: A Guide for Individuals with Autism Spectrum and Other Social- Cognitive Challenges

Avoid the minefields that often await in the workplace.  This manuel breaks down concepts from resume writing to keeping a job in any field. The Hidden Curriculum explains to individuals on the autism spectrum how to dress and act when on the job and multiple strategies to consider when navagitating work culture.

Available through the Lending Library at OCALI