Meaningful employment is a goal of many individuals with autism. Employment gives individuals living with autism a sense of empowerment, confidence and the feeling of being a part of something bigger than themselves, and can increase one’s independence.
The thought of finding and maintaining employment for an individual with autism may seem overwhelming. But there are opportunities – and the supports needed to capitalize on those opportunities – available.
Individuals with autism are currently working as entrepreneurs, in mainstream businesses, and in sheltered workshops. No two people with autism are alike, and their work environments vary greatly. But despite differences in personality and work, these people have two things in common: a personal network of people who supported them on their employment journey and the confidence that comes with meaningful work.
Ideally, employment should capitalize on an individual’s strengths, abilities and interests, and have a well-defined goal. Many agencies and organizations are available to help you with your job search. In addition to helping you locate appropriate positions, many organizations also provide additional services that support the individual with autism throughout his employment journey.
Explore this area of our website to find resources that can help make meaningful employment a reality for you or someone you care about. Be sure to check out the Autism and Employment Success Stories to learn more about individuals with autism who are reaping the benefits of employment.
Vocation / Employment Glossary – A listing of common terms associated with employment and disability.
Resources for locating employment opportunities
Autism Speaks Family Services: Autism in the Workplace – A variety of transitional and employment resources.
Center for Independent Living (CIL) – These agencies offer assistance with finding housing, developing the skills needed to live independently, including finding a job.
Disability Program Navigators (DPNs) – A program jointly funded by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Social Security Administration, the DPN initiative promotes comprehensive services and work incentive information for SSI and SSDI beneficiaries and others with disabilities through the One-Stop system. The DPN focuses on developing partnerships to achieve seamless, comprehensive and integrated access to services, creating change, and expanding the workforce development system’s capacity to serve customers with disabilities and employers.
Office of Disability Employment Policy – Part of the United States Department of Labor, the Office of Disability Employment Policy provides a variety of resources to assist individuals with disabilities in securing work.
One-Stop Centers – A resource that provides lists of job openings, computers and Internet access to facilitate the job search, One-Stop Centers also have career counselors who can answer questions about how to find a job and help write resumes. The searchable database allows visitors to search for centers in their local community. One-Stop Centers offer many free services.
State Governor’s Office on Employment of People with Disabilities – Use this handy list to locate the resources within your state.
State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Offices – These agencies coordinate and provide counseling, evaluation and job placement services for people with disabilities.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Autism Spectrum Disorders Project Service Provider Directory – A resource directory of specialty counselors for individuals with ASD interested in seeking vocational rehabilitation services.
General information regarding employment for individuals with autism or other disabilities
Adult Autism and Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals – This guide offers a review of existing literature, promising practices and previously unpublished insights and suggestions from a national expert on autism and employment. Written by Scott Standifer, Ph.D., and published by the Disability Policy and Studies School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri Health System.
Auties.org – A website dedicated to promoting the entrepreneurial skills of individuals diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. The website promotes public awareness of the range of skills that individuals on the autism spectrum bring to the employment market, and provides the possibility for individuals on the autism spectrum to advertise their skills directly to potential employers.
AutismSource.org – A searchable database of nationwide autism-related services and supports. Created and supported by the Autism Society of America.
Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison – Enables educators to engage youth and adults in learning and career development experiences that lead to meaningful and productive careers.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – A service provided by the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, JAN is one of the most comprehensive resources for job accommodations available. The organization’s mission is to facilitate the employment of individuals with disabilities by providing information on job accommodations, entrepreneurship, self-employment and small business opportunities. Information is available to individuals with disabilities and their families, employment providers and employers.
New Considerations for Employers Regarding Workplace Integration: The Impact of Communication Disorders – Research that examined the factors that may prevent the occupational integration of persons experiencing communication disorders. Authors: Jacques Barrette, Ph.D., Linda J. Garcia, Ph.D. and Chantal Laroche, Ph.D.
Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence – Serving families, educators and professionals working with students with autism and low-incidence disabilities. The center has created several autism-related tools, including a downloadable set of Autism Transition to Adulthood Guidelines and a series of webcasts that focus on the issues faced by adults with autism.
Rehabilitation of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders – This monograph from the Institute on Rehabilitation Issues outlines the state of science on Autism Spectrum Disorders, identifies issues and conditions for effective transition from school to work, training and post-secondary education, and describes evidence-based strategies for effective job development, placement and retention.
Targeted Assistance Overcomes Barriers to Work World – This article examines how supported employment can help people with serious mental illness and other serious mental disabilities such as autism find work.
Autism and Employment Success Stories
Autism Speaks Family Services: Autism in the Workplace – See how Andy, Shelly, Stephen, Andrew and Kent are working, planning for retirement and helping children with autism.
How One Autistic Young Man Runs a Business –Joe Steffy, a 23-year-old small business man living with both autism and Down syndrome, is a busy guy running Poppin’ Joe’s Kettle Korn and trying to reach his goal of $100,000 in sales by 2012.
Teenage Web Guru Overcame Autism – Joseph Hill is an ambitious teenager who hasn’t let Asperger’s slow his him down, and as an entrepreneur he’s taking on the challenges of running his own company.