According to the National Autistic Society, only 16% of adults with autism are currently in full-time work.
This issue, which is known as the “Autism Employment Gap” is somewhat shocking. Especially given that people with the condition have a myriad of benefits to offer the modern workplace.
The difficulty, of course, is accessing these opportunities.
Thankfully, the signs suggest that times are changing. Autism and employment need not be such a challenging issue in future. We now live in an age where there are great special schools for autism. Their initiatives are to help prepare people for the workforce and create public awareness. All of which are designed to ensure that employment is now an accessible option for everyone.
If you are an autistic adult looking to embrace these changes and further your career, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
Look for autism-friendly employers
A number of well-known employers have acknowledged the value that autistic employees can bring to their organisation and, as a result, can be considered to be “autism-friendly”. The main resource for these employers is the National Autistic Society jobs section, which lists available jobs for autistic adults and guidance on how you can apply.
Be open about your autism
Many people with autism feel that they have to try and “hide” their autism during the recruitment process.
While this is understandable, times have changed; your disclosure is protected under disability legislation. Most employers are up-to-date enough to know that autism does not preclude someone from being a wonderful employee. Furthermore, there is a secondary benefit to informing your prospective employer of your autism; there may be something they can do to ensure the recruitment process is simpler for you, or suitable accommodations are made when arranging interviews or training sessions. Bare in mind that a large number of businesses outsource their recruitment processes and so make sure you go into the interview knowing exactly who you are talking to.
Seek specific support
There are a variety of different services available that can help you prepare your CV, go through the recruitment process, and refine your interview technique in order to impress a prospective employer. If you attended a special school for autism, you may well have on-hand support already. By working with these services, you will have all the support you need to navigate the recruitment process and eventually secure the role of your dreams..
Give yourself time
Finding suitable autism jobs can be a time-consuming process, and one that is often complicated by relatively high levels of anxiety and stress. As a result, you may find it helpful to focus on the next step along the path only. For example, focus first and foremost on writing your application, and avoid thinking about the interview or training that may be necessary if that application succeeds. If you are then invited to interview, you can focus on the interview only; if you’re then asked to train, you can just focus on the training – and so on and so forth, right up until the only stage left is to start your first day at work.
With the above tips in mind and a genuine societal shift towards a working world that is more understanding of autism, the career you have always dreamed of should be well within your reach.