Employment should take advantage of the individual's strengths and abilities. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., suggests, "jobs should have a well-defined goal or endpoint," and that your "boss must recognize your social limitations." In A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, the authors 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 have limited social interaction with colleagues such as computer sciences, research or library sciences. In supported employment, a system of supports allows individuals to have paid employment in the community, sometimes as part of a mobile crew, other times individually in a job developed for the person. In secure or sheltered employment, an individual is guaranteed a job in a facility-based setting. Individuals in secure settings generally also receive work skills and behavior training, 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 on-line 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:
Autism, Identity and Employment
Moving Into the World of Employment
Off to Work for Individuals with Autism
When the School Bus Stops Coming
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