Employment is an important milestone for every young adult, allowing an increase of independence, confidence in one’s abilities, and a sense of social integration. For individuals with autism, it can be much more difficult to get and maintain a job that fits into his or her routine, provides that feeling of accomplishment, and allows for social interaction.
Published on NPR, an article entitled “Young Adults with Autism More Likely to be Unemployed, Isolated” delved into the realities of employment, or lack there of, for individuals with autism especially right after high school. During the first two years after high school, unemployment for individuals with autism is an upsetting 66%. Six years after high school the percentage decreases but only to 23%, showing the issue remains a significant problem.
When employment numbers for individuals with autism in their twenties are compared to their peers the numbers continue to evoke shock. When compared to the 74% of individuals with learning disabilities, 95% of individuals with learning disabilities, and 91% with speech or emotional impairment who are employed in their twenties, 58% employment rate for people with autism indicates a distinct problem.
NPR quotes associate professor Paul Shattuck, the leader of the study that found these statistics, who cites the shift in the job sector from manufacturing to service positions as a possible explanation. Shattuck notes that these new jobs in the service industry emphasize the exact social interactions that are frequently difficult for people with autism.
Another aspect of this issue that Shattuck brought up in the article was something he referred to as the “services cliff” or the disappearance of all of the services an individual receives from the department of education. A huge part of this issue is the fact that, although it is required by federal law, only 58% of schools had developed a transition plan for students with autism by the age of 14. Without this transition plan, families are left scrambling to try and find community programs that are often difficult to find and utilize.
Employment, however, is not only a way to earn a living but for individuals with autism can be a crucial way to increase social interaction. Without this opportunity, individuals can become completely socially isolated. NPR reported that the study lead by Shattuck found that 1 in 4 people with autism had not spoken with friends in one year which meant they were deemed completely isolated.
These statistics emphasize the fact the employment in the autism community is a big problem that needs to be addressed. If you have questions about finding employment resources for you or your child give us a call at 877-654-GIVE!