Some common positive traits of employees on the Autism Spectrum include but are not limited to: attention to detail, trustworthiness, reliability, low absenteeism, enjoying certain jobs that other employees might find repetitive or socially isolated. When given the correct guidance and training, individuals on the Autism Spectrum can overcome behavioral and social challenges in the work place and make an extremely competent and hardworking employee. With individuals on the spectrum working so incredibly hard to accommodate to the demands of a work environment, we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to make this transition easier for them? Unfortunately, the answer to that question right now is, not much. It is our responsibility to create a socially inclusive environment across all domains of life, and Spectrum Success is working hard in the community to increase the level of acceptance and support for these talented individuals. Retaining long term employment helps insure a better quality of life because individuals will experience personal satisfaction in their jobs, make valuable contribution to the company, and be a step closer to living independently.
More than 3.5 million individuals are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum in America (CDC, 2014). Autism services cost U.S. citizens $236-262 billion annually, with the majority of costs in adult services – $175-196 billion (Buescher et al., 2014). In June 2014, only 19.3% of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9% were unemployed, meaning only 16.8% of the population with disabilities was employed. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). 35% of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school. (Shattuck et al., 2012)
Unfortunately, funding in many states ends when an individual with disabilities turns 22. Many families affected by Autism do not know that in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), federal education law requires that school districts help students with disabilities make the transition from school to life as an adult. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 granted individuals with disabilities the right to access and participate in a workplace free of discriminatory employment practices, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees with disabilities if they are able to perform the essential functions of the job.