The benefits of employment have been stated clearly, have been understood for some time and have no bearing on ability or disability. These benefits are:
- Well-being and health;
- Sense of purpose and belonging;
- Builds self-confidence and esteem;
- Creates a social identity;
- Brings financial independence.
However, the transition from being unemployed to employment is daunting and the statistics surrounding autism and employment do not make for good reading:
There are estimated to be 332,600 autistic adults of working age, but only 22% (73,172) are in any form of employment. 77% say they want work. 53% want help but only 10% get support.
Other factors that present or represent challenges:
- Lack of specialised support, most websites give only advice and guidance; employment agencies give support through suggestions and office-based interviews/appointments;
- Lack of in-person 1-2-1 support and what there is is generally delivered via support workers without specialised knowledge or experience of autism, which can mean individuals may be reluctant to try employment for fear of both the unknown and failure. Support to remain in work is also of equal importance to support in finding work;
- Interrupted education through health-related issue can mean lower levels of qualifications that don’t always meet or highlight the potential of an autistic individual. Employment opportunities lowered and/or tend to be lower end/entry level positions requiring more development work to help achieve personal aspirations;
- Autism-unfriendly application processes and interviews;
- No understanding of the concept of what employment is.
There are, however, some starting points for the process of gaining work and although these may be general there are elements of autism-specific understanding, support and development to be found.
One such starting point is Autistic Nottingham’s forthcoming Employability for Autism Online, which is a course written by individuals with autism for individuals with autism.
Whether you are considering employment for the first time or whether you have worked before, there will be something within the course that will help you refine your ability to find employment that matches your interests and preferences and where your differences may well be an asset. Back up support from an autism specialist employment mentor will also be available.