It’s a Struggle for Adults With Autism to Find Jobs
Like many other 24-year olds, Kenneth Parker loves to play computer games. The young adult from Orlando, Florida, wants to be a game developer himself. He has a simple reason behind his ambition: to develop a game which none was yet made and see people playing it.
Kenneth, as of now, is unemployed. But he isn’t alone. More than 57 percent of autistic adults were gainfully employed at some point of time in their lives. The rate of unemployment for young autistic adults is considerably lower than those with speech impairment and intellectual disabilities.
But people like Kenneth, are stuck in the middle. He won’t be satisfied in a low-skill or menial work, or a job that feels as if was given to him out of charity. Besides, he has to battle several issues to organize himself that often turns off most prospective employers.
Kenneth’s mother Florence, is well aware of the challenges of employing adults with autism. Florence, a nurse by profession, employed her son and a few others with developmental disabilities in the healthcare centre she ran. Kenneth first worked in the maintenance department and then in other activities, entertaining seniors with scientific demonstrations.
Florence says, her goal was to run a quality healthcare centre, offering good service to the patients, while at the same time being financially independent. She tried to help all the young adults, including her son, to succeed. She had to work hard with all the managers and supervisors so that they understood the needs of each employee. Kenneth admits that he did things that a “normal” employee won’t do, like leaving work unattended. He just couldn’t organize things. Activities that were important to others had no meaning for Kenneth. At the same time, people failed to understand what he said or meant.
But Kenneth was not alone. There was another young adult with autism, a woman, who would finish her work and then sit idle for hours, not knowing what to do next, because she wasn’t given any clear instructions.
Things that are obvious to most people are usually not as such to people with autism. It takes a lot more specific instructions and loads of patience to deal with autistic adults.
Florence retired from her nursing home business about a year ago. She now plans to start another business where people like her son will get employment. She looks to various nonprofit organizations that train adults with autism, for inspiration. In fact, she has started a social group on the internet to help autistic individuals develop job skills. She now dreams to establish a brick-and-mortar community building for those having autism.
Florence says it has been some amazing friendships that she has forged over the years with these special people. She thinks it’s an extreme error for most of us to think that people on the autism spectrum aren’t social.
But there seems to be no easy fix or any immediate solution to change the mindset of the general people on providing employment to people with autism. It’ll take time.