Autism Society Workgroup Update: Employment and Quality of Life.
September 6, 2012
By Mary Beth Collins and Jennifer Repella
In July 2012, the Autism Society assembled educators, professionals, chapter leaders, self advocates and others of different backgrounds and experiences to address some of the most pressing issues facing those with autism. Working groups met at the Autism Society National Conference to focus on the topics of bullying, quality of life, employment, equal access to screening and early intervention; community collaboration and college programs for students with autism. We will keep you updated on how these groups progress in each issue of the e-newsletter.
This week, updates from the groups addressing employment and quality of life.
Evaluating today's workplace and its readiness to welcome adults with autism has quickly become a critical concern in communities coast to coast. Programs designed to introduce and practice vocational skills to prepare our maturing children with autism are greatly in need. Further, the support services to guide them through the process to achieve and maintain success in the workplace, such as job coaches and vocational placement services, need to be created or enhanced for greater efficacy.
Employment for adults with autism is a two-fold challenge: both a quality of life concern and a financial necessity. The urgency to address this issue that handicaps today's adults and threatens a growing population of maturing teenagers compelled people to fill the room at this initial two and a half hour session at the Autism Society National Conference.
The employment group gathered mostly Autism Society chapter leaders and adults on the spectrum. A significant portion of the time was spent brainstorming and deciding who else should be invited for continued conversation: businesses, human resources administrators, vocational specialists, job coaches, and association representatives who help guide best practices for these groups such as SHRMA (Society for Human Resource Management), SBA (Small Business Association) and the U.S. Business Network.
Some exciting initial concepts were discussed. Ideas ranged from skill-identification and vocational training programs to developing age bracket development guidelines to distribute to Autism Society chapters. We also discussed creating autism-specific training programs for employers and job coaches. Other great ideas from the session include designing a program to offer more comprehensive support and guidance to families, developing peer-to-peer support for working adults, and creating a promotional campaign to capture attention during National Autism Awareness Month.
In the months ahead, we will determine goals and develop the project we plan to tackle and its task plan.
Quality of Life Update
The Quality of Life workgroup included a wide variety of participants including parents, individuals on the spectrum, professionals and service providers. The discussion focused on identifying key elements that make up a quality life and potential barriers to maximizing an individual’s personal development throughout the life span.
The intention of the workgroup is to continue an ongoing dialogue to define and assist in the development of strategies to improve quality of life for all people living with autism (including other family members and loved ones).
The group discussed key predictors of a quality life, which may include:
- Exercising one's individual rights
- Being treated fairly and with respect
- Choice in employment
- Social participation.
The group also identified some of the challenges individuals on the spectrum may face:
- Absence of basic health care and ancillary services
- Vulnerability to abuse
- Limited preparation for development across the lifespan
- The future efforts of this workgroup will be to identify further resources for individuals and their families, improve outreach across the entire disability community and include information and consideration of quality of life in all discussions and services for people living with autism.
Did you miss our bullying workgroup recap? Click here.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.