Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Ahead - Autism and Employment

"Why should we hire you?" "Where do you see yourself in five years?" "What is one of your weaknesses?" Job interviews can be a stressful and (in these times) difficult thing to come by. Interviewees on the autism spectrum can face additional and largely subjective hurdles. No matter how confident you are, job interviews can be an arduous task. After all, the employer most likely has your resume or pertinent job skills - so they are there to judge you, your personality and your ability to answer tough questions.

Employment in the autism community is a pressing social and economic consideration for all of us. According to one study by The National Autism Resource and Information Center, only 32.5% of young adults on the autism spectrum currently worked for pay versus an average of 59.0% for all respondents. There was only one disability group with a lower percentage than this. When you consider the unemployed searching for work, only 29% of those on the spectrum indicated that they were looking for work (as opposed 48% of typical individuals). Because these numbers are viewing all of "those on the spectrum," the vast majority of those working or looking for work are most likely more mildly affected by autism.

It's hard to quantify the impact of earning a living wage. The internal, psychological benefits associated with employment are more transparent. Realizing the outward, sociological benefits as well as the effects on others perceptions when it comes to autism in general, is another thing to consider. Like it or not, a large factor in our perception of others is based on their profession, trade skills or accomplishments. How many times have you used the ice-breaker, "What do you do?" to get to know someone. When an individual with autism (on any level of the spectrum) is gainfully employed, the publics' view on their capabilities and their general place in society may become more developed. Beyond these considerations, one must consider that over the lifetime of an individual with autism, costs associated with treatment and living arrangements can amount to over 3 million dollars.

In any job market, employers are usually choosing between several qualified candidates to fill their needs. Often times, candidates' attributes, awards, skills and non-job related interests become key factors in landing interviews. Imagine yourself as an employer browsing through dozens of resumes which all, more or less, are identical. A brief list of these skills or interests may just get your resume sorted into that elusive 'to interview' stack. When it comes to more challenged individuals, early and proactive actions to help to build these 'resume padding' items is the best approach.

About the author:
Mr. Jeffrey Young is the President and Founder of Innovative Piano, Inc. Mr. Young has published over 17 books dealing with music and autism. To learn more about the author and the program please visit

Innovative Piano, Inc.
Offering piano lessons for students with autism - Nationwide!

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