Autism Speaks refers to autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
Autism in the Workforce
National data indicates that a majority of adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed, with estimates ranging to as high as 90%. Many adults with autism have a difficult time achieving employment, continued education, and independent living. Autistic people who use state-funded vocational rehabilitation programs often leave these programs with low-wage work, putting them well below the poverty level. Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job.
This shockingly high number ignores that fact that those with autism can be highly efficient in areas such as technology, math and science. Many adults with ASDs, are employed and demonstrating their competence in a wide variety of industries and businesses around the world. But for the vast majority of adults with ASD, job opportunities are just not available.
Autistic candidates have trouble getting hired due to a lack of information and understanding of autism by potential employers. Another major issue is that individuals with autism may lack soft skills which can be very important in the workplace. These soft skills include communication and social skills, the ability to accept feedback, work collaboratively, and time management. Of course, autism spectrum disorders are characterized, in part, by difficulties in social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication, putting some people with autism at a disadvantage. However, they should not be discounted because they could make up for soft skills through other areas where they excel.
People who have autism can often be highly efficient in other areas though such as technology, math and science. Positions in these fields can be challenging to fill due to a lack of qualified candidates. This has created the opportunity for companies to begin searching for candidates outside of their usual, predictable pool of talent.
Employers should also be aware of the common strengths shared by many people with autism, including intense attention to detail, commitment to quality and consistency, creative and “out of the box” thinking, excelling on repetitive tasks, lower turnover rates, honesty and loyalty. These qualities can help make processes more efficient and when looking at candidates focusing on their abilities and how they match the ultimate requirements can help in the hiring process.
Hiring Autistic Candidates
Employers if you have yet to hire or work with autistic candidates, we highly recommend starting out by connecting with community partners. Community partners are working hard to educate the business community about people with autism and what they are truly capable of. When partnering with a community partner they can help to showcase the common strengths shared by many people with autism and how those strengths can work within your organization.
LocalJobNetwork’s Diversity Recruiting Solution provides you with access to more than 40 organizations focused on autism and over 5,200 community partners focused on people with disabilities. We provide you with the contact information needed so that you can partner with a wide variety of community partners who work with autistic candidates. Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help you enhance your diversity outreach.