All Articles Autism Employment Opportunities For Adults Finding a job can be difficult for anyone, but seeking employment as a person with autism may be especially challenging, as it presents different obstacles than the average person faces. During the time of this writing, 80-85% of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. Yet, having a place to go each day, participating in consistent work, and supporting oneself is imperative to the well-being, responsibility, and self-reliance of any individual with (or without) autism. If you or someone you love needs employment, this guide makes the steps to getting a job with autism become clear. Learn where to find autism employment opportunities, select and apply for the best jobs for adults with autism, and navigate the application and interview process, so you or your loved one can find and land the perfect job. While finding a job fitting for an individual on the spectrum may prove difficult, it’s far from impossible. In fact, many people with autism have incredible talents for a special interest of theirs – such as art, math, memorization, music, or technical skills – making them an exceptional resource for companies in those fields. Individuals with autism are often quite focused and passionate about their work. They can also be very attentive to detail and strict to a routine. Bringing a different perspective, a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), may be able to easily point out the solution to a problem that their colleagues would never have noticed or thought of. Adding these diverse ways of thinking can be an asset to any team. Dave Kearon, director of adult services at Autism Speaks, reminds us, “You can generalize. A heavily client-facing position like sales might not be a good fit for most people on the spectrum, but I knew a museum docent on the spectrum who gave me the best tour of an art museum I’ve ever had because that’s what he’s interested in. I’d caution against painting folks with autism using broad brushes.” Job Search Resources Resources for finding autism employment opportunities may be few, but they are increasing as people realize the strength that people on the spectrum add to a professional team. Our programs for adults with autism include vocational training, which teach and practice skills such as job application and interviewing, punctuality and clocking in and out, professional behavior in the workplace, and getting along with coworkers. Autism Speaks has an Employment Tool Kit including extensive tips and resources for finding a job as an individual with autism. They offer even more resources here. TheSpectrumCareers is a free job search website designed by and for adults with autism. It also includes tools to help create a resume. Tips for Finding a Job Once you know how to get started with the job search, your next step is preparing to find the right job for the job candidate. These practical tips for finding work will help you hit the ground running! Know yourself It’s important for the job seeker to become self-aware of their needs, interests, and strengths before diving into looking for work. Taking some time to self-reflect will give you more direction as you begin the job search. It may help to compile a few lists: Individual needs for a future workplace – any unique sensitivities, necessary workplace accommodations, and logistical requirements like work location and transportation. Your strengths and interests—things you are passionate about or good at doing. A detailed description of what you see yourself doing in the future. Include your dream career, as well as other jobs you’d be willing to consider trying. Practical Application and Interviewing Skills Create a resume that includes the following: contact information education any training received work history any other unpaid or volunteer work Write a cover letter unique to each job you apply for. In it, introduce yourself, explain why you’d like this job and why you are a good fit, and invite the employer to get in touch for an interview. Keep it brief and simple, and include a copy of your resume. Practice interview skills. You might try conducting practice interviews with a friend or family member as the interviewer. It may help to record a video of these interviews to evaluate and find ways to improve. In any interview, put more focus on your abilities and strengths rather than disabilities and weaknesses. Compile a Portfolio Gather all the projects you’ve completed that you’re proud of, and put them in one place—your professional portfolio. Temple Grandin, a professor and autism spokesperson (who is on the autism spectrum herself) says, “A person with Asperger’s syndrome or autism has to compensate for poor social skills by making themselves so good in a specialized field that people will be willing to ‘buy’ their skill even though social skills are poor. This is why making a portfolio of your work is so important.” The Best Jobs for Adults With Autism Grandin gives some great pointers for knowing what kind of jobs an individual with autism should look for. First, she explains that a good job should have a clearly defined goal, to avoid miscommunication or confusion. She also advises to steer clear of jobs that might put stress on short-term memory, saying, “Both high and low functioning people have very poor short-term working memory, but they often have a better long-term memory than most normal people.” This means jobs that require multitasking might be less suitable than a job that calls for high attention to detail or memorization. As mentioned earlier, each person with autism has unique needs, strengths, and abilities that will affect the type of job that fits them best. The following ideas are merely suggestions—areas of work that various people on the spectrum might perform well in. Please take into consideration the job candidate’s individuality. STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Jobs that require visual thinking Working with numbers Knowledge of certain facts of interest to the job candidate Music Computer programming Engineering Library science Art (especially commercial art and drafting) Work tasks that require high accuracy or attention to detail, such as quality control or detailed paperwork Employment Opportunities For Adult With Autism Companies are beginning to see that hiring people with autism gives their team a unique advantage that they can’t pass up. The following companies are actively seeking out new employees on the autism spectrum. Walgreens The Badger Mountain Orchard Specialisterne The Specialists Guild nonPareil Institute Aspiritech Nobis Works Microsoft SAP Freddie Mac Ford Ernst and Young Home Depot and CVS Caremark (Ken’s Crew) AMC Small businesses created specifically for employees with autism: Rising Tide Car Wash ULTRA Testing Spectrum Designs Platinum Bay Software Chocolate Spectrum SMILE Biscotti A Hopeful Start to the Job Search Journey A person with autism has a lot to offer to the jobs they apply for. After assessing individual strengths and needs, practicing the interview process, and compiling a portfolio, you’re ready to jump from job candidate to new employee! At the Adult Autism Center of Learning, we want to encourage these individuals to continue to grow by helping them with their personal progress and tackling new obstacles in life. If you have any questions about our programs or are curious to learn more about our resources feel free to contact us. Contact A Team Member Julia Hood, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, NCSPJulia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA-D is the Director of the Adult Autism Center of Lifetime Learning, the first center in Utah to provide individualized services for autistic adults. Here, she uses her rich background in psychology to empower clients. Julia has guided the Carmen B. Pingree Center, the center for assisting kids and adolescence, through critical stages of growth, including developing its architectural layout and clinical programs. Under her leadership, the center has also established local partnerships that allow clients to contribute to society. In the future, Julia envisions building more adult autism centers, as well as providing group home residential services. Julia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Westminster College, and a Masters and Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Utah.