Friday, October 28, 2011

Interesting article on tough job market for autistics

I see that U.S. News and World Report has published an interesting article on employment problems for those with autism. It rightly points out that this is the time supportive services from the pie-in-the-sky promises but shit-from-the-sewer delivery from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act end and the autistic person has to go out and face the cruel world. The article states: people with autism were only about half as likely to be working as people with disabilities in general (33 percent compared with 59 percent). If true, this means that having autism is a worse disability than most are in terms of employability. Of course, I am skeptical about statistics that are casually bandied around. The article interviews a professor named Scott Standifer who makes a statement that Ari Ne'eman should read: "We forget how important social relationships are in maintaining employment." For those who may not have read previous blog entries I have written, Ari Ne'eman is an individual in his early 20's who is an autism self-advocate who has never had paid employment of any kind who says that social pleasantry should be eliminated in the workplace as a criteria for evaluating new hires and job evaluations.

After this though, the article goes on to state that the lunch break is one of the more difficult things for persons with autism and the mandatory social requirement. I think of all the times in the days years ago, when I worked outside my home and usually ate lunch alone at a restaurant or bought something off a roach coach and was never required to socialize with anyone, so this is rather silly. The last 9 years or so that I worked I worked at home, so this was not an issue. Finding a job you can do at home may make some of the social problems we face easier. I realize this is probably not a feasible option for most on the spectrum, as it was for me for a time.

The article offers an opium-induced dream: Families of people with autism as well as employers and co-workers can all help to make the employment experience a positive one for these individuals. This is never going to happen. The sad truth is the world does not accommodate autistics and their families for their own convenience, regardless of what neurodiversity advocates think will happen. Though I have been out of the workforce for a while, this must ring even more true with nearly 10% unemployment nationwide.

Without going into the further specifics, (the interested individual can read the above-linked article) some rather pat solutions are given as well as certain jobs that autistics are supposedly good at.

The article is of interest to me as an individual on the spectrum with nearly 28 years experience of utter hell attempting to make a living with a fair amount of success. Though I'm retired now at a relatively young age, I will never forget those struggles. I now had to stoop to applying for disability which I probably won't get. I have contacted a new lawyer and have yet to hear from them and the deadline for filing a suit in federal court expires soon. It's probably not worth contacting any other attorneys and I'm probably going to have to drop the case, so it goes.

I wish there was a quick fix way of helping persons on the spectrum find and keep jobs but unfortunately there is none.


Anonymous said...

This report says that basically 15% of the autism population has a job. A statistic I find dubious, I'm sure its much lower and non existent for those with Autistic Disorder. However, even that 15% is underpaid compared to similar jobs with peers.

Very depressing for a parent. But I'm sure ASAN and others will find a way to blame the parent for this situation.

jonathan said...

Anonymous: I am not sure what the true employment/unemployment rate is among autistics. Based on the difficulty of finding adults in prevalence studies and such I am not sure there are any reliable employment statistics.

You're probably right about ASAN and other neurodiversity groups, they're the Bettelheims of the 21st century.

lurker said...

Hearing the employment and services predicament for autistics described in article after article wears me down over time, as there won't be a solution anytime soon. And the ASAN has become so much further out of touch and corrupt than I ever expected.

After 2 years of twists and turns with disability services, they finally set me up with a job part-time recently, just around the time that the contract that the government has with the agency I went to expires. It gets kinda confusing depending on what I'm to work on, and those I'm working with don't seem to understand how I make mistakes and why I get confused. And my job coach isn't that helpful either, with the irrelevant stuff she asks me. I don't know what to expect as time goes on if they have me do less simple tasks, and I'm anxious about it.

I wonder what will become of me when I get older and my parents can't provide subsistence for me anymore. I don't know if I'll ever be sustainable in a job on my own. I hope you get luck in your legal attempts to get disability.