Home > Family Services > JobTIPS: Helping to Level the Playing Field for Individuals with Autism in the Workforce

JobTIPS: Helping to Level the Playing Field for Individuals with Autism in the Workforce

This is a blog post by Louise Buchholz Southern, M.Ed., BCBA., formal special educator and content director at do2learn.com.

Many people with autism spectrum disorders are fully capable of joining the workforce, living full and independent lives and being tax-contributing members of our communities. Yet the number employed is relatively low due to lack of access to information and supports that would result in gainful employment. JobTIPS is our attempt to help level the playing field.

As a former special educator at the secondary level, I spent so much time focusing on my students’ academic and social skills development that I had little time to track down or develop resources that supported their vocational needs. I was not alone.

A group of us – educators, clinicians, parents and advocates – banded together to see what resources were actually out there.  Unfortunately, what we found was very limited and not tailored to the special needs of individuals with autism. Many people reside in remote and underserved areas, where there is even less access to supports, combined with the fact that not all available resources and instructional strategies are of a high quality or consistency.

Many of these students are not going on to pursue post-secondary education options, but often graduate without the basic skills needed to find and maintain employment.

Understanding the “why”

A prospective job applicant like “James” is ill-equipped to follow his dream in the workplace. Getting along with co-workers is really hard for him. He gets tired of “adjusting to them” and often asks “why can’t they adjust to me?” James, like many young adults with autism we see every day, has trouble keeping jobs. Over the last 10 years he has been hired and fired repeatedly, seldom understanding why. For others, the challenge is simply getting hired.

Tough questions. Tough questions that we felt could be addressed by merging technology with our expertise in the field of autism. We broke down this web-based resource into four core parts – Determining Interests, Finding a Job, Getting a Job, and Keeping a Job.

We designed real-life, interactive exercises that not only deal with the practical skills of identifying jobs that match their strengths and filling out applications, but developing their understanding of, and response to, the important social nuances that underlie the workplace environment. To teach them the “whys” of social interactions that typically get in the way of their success.

Successful employment is a key to greater independence

Successful employment is a key to greater independence – healthier self-esteem and higher quality of life – for individuals with ASD.  JobTIPS aims to offer these young adults the right resources to help them optimize their potential and at a level where employers see and appreciate the unique skills and talents they have to offer. To find out more, visit www.do2Learn.com.

Autism Speaks has many employment-related resources for individuals with autism and their families. These include: Autism in the Workplace, Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, and the Transition Tool Kit.

  1. adria
    April 28, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I tried to sign up… nothing happened when I clicked on the link to do this. I am ASP…. worked for 41 years before I knew it. It really was hell every day. I love people and loved making them happy and helping them, but to do this was sometimes torture for me (come on… one foot in front of the other… you did this yesterday, you can do it just ONE MORE DAY, that’s all, just one more day!) I finally broke at age 58 from the anxiety and that’s when I was diagnosed. I have children and grandchildren who are also ASP. I think your quest and intent is marvelous to help those of us who have much to give to the world in the way of service. My slogan has become “I never felt normal until I found out that I’m NOT!” Now, I am at peace with myself because I actually know who I am. :)

  2. adria
    April 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I would love to share more with you and others… my type of employment and how I survived it for so long… and hear experiences of others relating to working “out there”. :)

  3. Lisa Haupfear
    April 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I have a 17yr old daughter w/ ashberger autism ans our school district has job training program in the schools and with buisness’s in our comuntiy. She is very hard working very responible. I’am concerned about her being able to survive in this fast pass world with out help. She refuses to learn to drive, Its like sometimes we are dealing w/ a 12 or 13 yr old and other areas she is just like other 17yr olds. We keep talking w/ her about what will happen after she is out of school and how shw will need to learn to drive so she can work or go on to college. we just do not seem to get anywhere?

  4. Eireann Benson
    April 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    JobTIPS – I am SO badly in need of this! I’m 33 years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome sometime in the 1990s. I have had nothing but trouble trying to get a job. The only job I could get was as a volunteer at my local hospital, a job I still have today. The Department of Rehabilitation was hardly any help to me. I live with my mom and stepdad. I have lived on SSI (Supplimental Security Income) but I now have Social Security, and I have Medicare which started this past April 1st. I want to get a job, earn my own money, live in a place of my own, and hopefully learn to drive a car. I hope that JobTIPS can help me because I honestly don’t want to live off the taxpayers’ money. In an economy like this, it looks like JobTIPS is my only way out. Aside from that, it looks like I don’t have any other choices.

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