Autism in the workforce
- Heather shares her experience of learning to work on the spectrum. She talks about coping with her issues around rigididy. See article. There is a video clip at the top of the page. Be the best you can be at that job because that’s what’s gonna save you if you do make the social blunders, Lesko said.
- John has lost several jobs due to social anxiety. This article explores the ways in which nonprofit agencies offer help in placing autistic young adults into jobs. They recommend supports like checklists, clear outlines of rules and procedures, quieter workspaces when possible and short, scheduled breaks for sensory downtime when needed. See article. Readers in the UK might like to have a look at Specialisterne below.
Specialisterne UK is for people on the autism spectrum with an aptitude for IT etc. We assess, train and employ individuals with autism as consultants in IT and other sectors with technically oriented tasks and jobs, such as data management, software testing and quality control. Our Specialists (the people we place into work) will have a diagnosis within the autism spectrum, often that of Asperger’s Syndrome, and many have a second or third diagnosis as well.
Click icon above for more information. See also history.
What work can people with autism do? Here is a personal view. The author describes his brother’s ability as follows: “You can give him any task and, as long as he is guided through it a couple of times, he will get into the habit of doing it.” His message to employers is, ” Tap into this pool of potential with targeted descriptions, clear demands and a touch of humanity”.
Avoiding job scams
The internet can be very useful but it can pose dangers too. Here are a couple of guides to avoiding on-line job scams:
The National Autistic Society website has several pages about work related issues.
Click icon to find out about NAS services & support for:
- Looking for work
- In work
Allenby Business Village
Lincoln, LN3 4NL
Be part of the change
Ambitious about Autism are asking people to register to join their Employ Autism campaign by submitting your name and a valid email address. They say, “Recent figures show that only 15% of people with autism are in full time, paid employment”. If you are very keen you could even ask for information about their Youth Patrons.
The fuss over Lord Freud’s comment, in October 2014, that some disabled people are “not worth” the minimum wage may seem worrying for some. All the main political parties were at pains to state that all disabled people should continue to be paid at least the minimum wage, though, which gives some reassurance.
There is already a wage subsidy scheme for the benefit of a particular group of disabled employees. This forms part a a broader package of support for people with disabilities. You may qualify for this support if you are awarded Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Here is a page that tells you How to claim ESA.
Employment for Disabled People
Social Obligation or Individual Responsibility?
Some people are at the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum have achieved remarkable things, e.g. Richard Branson and probably Isaac Newton to name but two. A significant proportion of university lecturers are said to be in a similar category. But whatever your level of potential the law offers some protection against discrimination in the work place.
The research paper referred to below might be said to offer useful insights to those with disabilities, indicating where they stand in relation to the world of work. The full article is pretty heavy going though, so the link below takes you into a brief outline.
If you are preparing for the world of work you could probably do with some one-to-one advice and guidance, but here are a few pointers that might help:
- If you are high-functioning this may be reflected, to some extent at least, in your qualifications, like GCSEs. Technical work might be right up your street.
- Whatever your level, it looks good if you can get some work experience – however small and straight forward. This shows to yourself and possible employers that you are getting somewhere in the world of work. Voluntary work can be a useful start. Anyway, it might be wise to start small to begin with and see how you go.
- There may be some things to avoid: maybe too much stress or work that requires particularly good people skills. For example, teaching might not be a good idea for you.
- If your health affects your fitness for work your GP may be able to issue you with a Fit note, stating the limitations of what you can do. For example you may need to limit the hours that you do.
For help and advice contact the National Careers Service. They have:
- useful things like a CV builder etc.
- a free phone helpline, 0800 100 900. They seem to have a calm and relaxed manner, with no pressure.
- online chat.
Please note: we, at GAIN, are not trained professionals. These tips are offered from a standpoint of personal perspective and are only intended to provide pointers. See This web site, under the heading Disclaimer for more detail.
This is a programme aimed at parents thinking about returning to work. It is run in Grantham on specific dates at either Swingbridge or Belton Lane Children’s and Community Centre. For more information click on the icon.
Mind, the mental health charity, believe that mainstream Back to Work schemes are inappropriate for people with mental health issues. If you agree it might be worth giving their Report summary a look.
But does this apply to people on the autistic spectrum? The National Autistic Society says, “People with autism or Asperger syndrome are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression“. See Mental health and Asperger Syndrome.
Please be aware that we, at GAIN, are not qualified to give advice. See disclaimer.