We live in a world where people living with disability are recognized and given an advantage, so they have a chance at success. The beauty is that more employers are also warming up to hiring a differently-abled person. Autistic adults now have more options but frankly, many still struggle to find paying jobs to sustain themselves. If you or your loved one has an autism diagnosis and are actively seeking employment, here are a few pointers you need to know about the employment system, including some of the common hurdles.
Understanding your child’s rights
You should know that your autistic loved one has rights just like any other person right from birth. Any child under three, for instance, has a right to what is known as early intervention services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA. You should also know that though science reveals that autism could result from genetics or an anomaly in the brain’s chemical composition, recent research has discovered that infants could get diagnosed with autism after exposure to Tylenol during pregnancy.
As a parent, you won’t like to see your child suffering with a life-altering diagnosis. The good thing is that you could seek Tylenol autism lawsuit support if you believe your child’s exposure to Tylenol while in the womb led to their diagnosis. A lawyer can help you hold manufacturers to account for their negligence.
Your child also has a right to free and appropriate education under the IDEA. This is why you ought to ensure that you or your child is given fair treatment and access to all of the services and support you deserve.
The reality for most autistic adults
In an ideal world, an autistic adult wouldn’t have to bypass more hoops than their neurotypical colleague to get employment. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and here are some of the harsh realities of adults living with autism.
The tough nature of the employment system
Employers often don’t give adults with autism a chance to prove they are just as capable as anyone without the condition. For example, an autistic adult could be great with numbers and have excellent grades. However, they become almost useless to the employer if they cannot use their mathematical skills for statistics or accounting. The individual could have other issues like social anxiety, sensory challenges and a challenge handling criticism, making them the inferior choice.
Lack of employment opportunities
In addition to the rigid and unforgiving nature of the employment system, statistics reveal that less than half of autistic adults are employed. The larger percentage are either working part-time jobs or volunteering without pay. Key reasons why autistic adults are not considered employment material include high competition, low expectations from society and lack of specialized programs to help them thrive.
Limited programs to help autistic adults transition
In the past, it was rare to encounter someone with an autism diagnosis. Besides, even though they existed, they probably muddled through life and left the support programs for the most severe cases. Now that the number of adults being diagnosed is rising, the resources are limited, leaving parents with the task of getting their loved ones to help.
Lack of coverage under IDEA
Unfortunately, an autistic adult is no longer covered under IDEA after 22 years old. Since students are entitled to free and fair education, coverage is mandatory. However, when young adults complete their education, they are no longer entitled to coverage, which is a sad fact.
Varying adult services for adults with autism
Some states offer programs for autistic adults, but only on the local level. Even though these programs are managed and paid for by the state, most autistic adults may never hear about them if they don’t reside in that state. Statistics reveal that the closest autism resource centre could be 11 miles away, which is too far for some individuals.
The silver lining
Times are changing, though. Federal and state agencies now see the need to support autistic adults and people with disability to become self-reliant. Examples of organizations that have made it their business to support autistic adults include Easter Seals, the Autism Society, The ARC, and the Autism Asperger’s Society of New England. However, there is still the issue of funding and bureaucracy that holds them back from giving their full support. These agencies also have a long way to go in gathering enough information about autism.
Helping autistic children & adults make self-directed choices
As a parent, you should do your utmost best to help an autistic child thrive in adulthood. You should try to build on their interests from the early stages. If your child is an autistic adult, you can still gear up for specific career paths that will match their capabilities and interests. Agencies and school counsellors could use aptitude and vocational tests to help these individuals find a suitable career path. This push in the right direction will help autistic adults direct their own lives and make appropriate decisions.
Even amidst the challenges we have discussed above, young autistic adults can find a good job and keep it for the rest of their life. However, this type of success is only possible with immense preparation. It would help if the autistic adult were self-empowered to be in a position to self-advocate and receive support as needed. They also need adequate training in the form of job coaching and mentorship.
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