Employment should take advantage of the individual’s strengths and abilities. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., suggests that “jobs should have a well-defined goal or endpoint,” and that your “boss must recognize your social limitations.” The authors of A Parent’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism describe three employment possibilities: competitive, supported, and secure or sheltered.
Competitive employment is the most independent, with no support offered in the work environment. Individuals with Asperger’s Sydrome may be successful in careers that require focus on details but only limited social interaction with colleagues, such as computer sciences, research or library sciences.
In supported employment, a system of supports allows individuals to pursue paid employment in the community, sometimes as part of a mobile crew, other times individually in a job developed for them.
In secure or sheltered employment, an individual is guaranteed a job in a facility-based setting. Individuals in secure settings generally receive work skills and behavior training as well, while sheltered employment may not provide training that would allow for more independence.
To look for employment, begin by contacting agencies that may be of help, such as state employment offices, state departments of vocational rehabilitation, social services offices, mental health departments, and disability-specific organizations. Many of these agencies, and other valuable services and supports, can be found in the Autism Society’s nationwide online database, Autism Source. Find out about special projects in your area and determine your eligibility to participate in these programs.
For more information, read the following Autism Advocate articles: