When a young adult on the Autism Spectrum graduates from high school, they face new opportunities and new challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is finding the right job. A 2013 study from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that 53% of young adults on the Autism Spectrum had ever worked for pay outside of the home, and only 20% had worked a full time job. The average pay for these young adults was $8.10, which was significantly lower than the wages of the comparison groups in this study.
The statistics may seem grim, but there is hope! There are many programs in our region that provide both academic, social, and employment support for young adults on the Autism Spectrum. Our friends at FAVARH have a comprehensive “School to Work” program, which provides instruction and experience in life skills training, job readiness skills, paid and volunteer employment, and more.
College is an Option!
Young adults who are looking to attend college while receiving the support they need to be independent can apply to different colleges with specific programs for students with disabilities. These include:
- Thames Academy at Mitchell College
- The Vocational Independence Program (VIP) at New York Institute of Technology
- Landmark College
In addition, some colleges will provide supportive academic services for an additional fee.
Transitioning to the Working World
Young adults who are ready to enter the workforce can be assured that there are employers who value their skills. The Connecticut Department of Labor’s Connect-Ability program has a list of model employers who are committed to employing individuals with disabilities, such as Walgreens. Assistance from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services is available for those who qualify.
Finally, there are a plethora of resources for young adults and their families that can make the transition from school to work a lot easier! Kathy Porter, a guest blogger at Think Inclusive, wrote an article called “Ten Surprising Things Parents of Autistic Grads Must Know“; which provides advice and ideas to help parents of young adults on the Spectrum support their transition into the working world. Autism after 16 has an entire section of their website devoted to articles about employment, including features on autism-friendly businesses. Lastly, the Wall Street Journal has featured a piece on “Molly”; a virtual-reality program that helps young adults with Autism prepare for interviews. The simulated interviewer, Molly, asks the user questions that he or she may be asked on a job interview, based upon a profile they have submitted. During this process, the user chooses from a set of responses, and Molly provides feedback on the ones they chose; training them to provide more effective responses in a real-life situation.
With Hope and Help, the Future is Bright!
With the right support, bright futures are possible for young adults on the Autism Spectrum. FOCUS Center for Autism is committed to helping children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders achieve their full potential. Our Innovative Model of Care has helped hundreds of children and their families since 2000, many of whom have graduated high school and college and are gainfully employed.