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Job Market Tough for Young Adults With Autism
Date:10/27/2011

eatest obstacle for adults with autism both to find a job and to keep it, Standifer noted.

"Autism doesn't qualitatively change when you hit adulthood. You've got the same issue with reading social signals, with understanding instructions," said Standifer, whose office provides training and consultation to State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies. "We forget how important social relationships are in maintaining employment."

For instance, one of the most trying parts of the workday for an individual with autism is the lunch break and its almost mandatory socializing requirement. "There's no script. [Individuals with autism] don't know what to do," said Standifer, who organizes an annual "Autism Works" conference.

But even something as mundane as a stapler missing off a desk can also upset a person with autism, who then may not have the skills to express their frustration or confusion.

Families of people with autism as well as employers and co-workers can all help to make the employment experience a positive one for these individuals. Here are some tips:

  • Families should start preparing for their teens' transition into adulthood and the work force well in advance, perhaps even as much as two or three years before graduation. "People with autism are often so anchored in routines that it is important to have new, productive routines in place for them well before they hit graduation and leave school behind," Standifer said.
  • Find a job that matches their more general abilities and strengths. Although it's hard to generalize, people with autism often do well doing gardening, simple bookkeeping, merchandising (such as folding or organizing clothes in a department store), as well as in library and school settings, said Charles Archer, CEO of the Evelyn Douglin Center for Serving People in Need, in Brooklyn, N.Y., an organization that helps people with disabilities live independently.
  • Take advantage of local vocational
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