One of the biggest worries when you have autism in adults is what their future is going to be like. Will they be able to work? Hold down a job? While this question is obviously very different for each person, there are some guidelines to help you answer this question.
The level of job will obviously depend on their skill and functioning level, but here are some ideas for autism in adults where the adult is at the lower end of the functioning level. They still have skills to use, but they have many challenges as well.
1. Use their skills and interests
Most adults with autism have skills that can be capitalized on in a job. Do they have a need for order, and like to line things up a lot? Teach them how to file, and see if they can get a part-time job in an office.
Perhaps food is an interest, but you’re not sure what jobs in a restaurant an adult with autism would be capable of. See if they can get a job delivering flyers for a local pizza place — something low stress and with little interaction with other people — or cleaning tables of their favorite eatery. Using interests is always a good way to encourage motivation when working with autism in adults.
2. Take advantage of Vocational Rehabilitation Services
The folks at these centers are usually great at pairing up people with disabilities with jobs. One of the most useful things they can often do is offer the use of a job coach when working with autism in adults.
A job coach will shadow your adult with autism on the job and give them instruction or reassurance when they need it. After the person gets more comfortable and used to the job, the job coach is often faded out — but not always. Sometimes, Vocational Rehabilitation can provide paid internships of a sort. The adult with autism gets experience being trained in some area, and the business contributes part of the pay while Vocational Rehabilitation contributes the rest.
The people at Vocational Rehabilitation have lots of connections with employers all over your area, some that you may not have even heard of. They know which employers are likely to work well with working with autism in adults, and which aren’t. They know who to talk to, and what to ask for. Say, for example, there is a job that you think would fit your adult child with autism really well, except for a few things they aren’t able to do. In a regular job situation, they would just show you the door, but Vocational Rehabilitation can often negotiate for a modified job position that more closely fits the abilities and needs in regard to autism in adults.
There is often a wait list to get services from Vocational Rehabilitation, but it is worth it. Google Vocational Rehabilitation for your local area or look for it in the social services section of your phone book.
3. Know what jobs are a good and bad fit
Take for example working the counter of a fast food restaurant. You have to take orders very rapidly, and be good at operating machinery, like the cash register, at a very fast pace. That would be overwhelming for a lot of adults with autism. Their processing speed is not that fast. Things get backed up in their mind, and it can cause meltdowns, even if the task is simple.
Instead, choose something that is slow-paced or can be done at the person’s own pace. This often works very well when working with autism in adults. Perhaps, something that can be done on the sidelines?
Like to be outdoors? Maybe working as a cart attendant, putting back grocery carts, would work. Others may get bored with the job, but an autistic person’s need for order may make this job appeal to them.
Perhaps putting stock on shelves? If the job is relaxed about the pace, may also appeal to the sense of order and everything in its place which is often a strength of adults with autism.
Think about what attributes are most prominent in autism in adults, then try to think of a job that uses those skills or attributes. But try to avoid anything, again, that is fast paced or requires too much interaction with people — a little is okay, a lot will probably be overwhelming.
If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to finding jobs that work when working with autism in adults.