Are Job Services Lacking for People with Autism?

By Tony Webster from San Francisco, California [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Com

As autism has become more commonplace, the need grows for services to help these individuals find and retain employment, according to new research. There are some 50,000 people who currently suffer from autism turning 18 years old each year in the United States. These transitioning youth, graduating from high school and moving into adulthood, represent the biggest group seeking vocational job services in the growing autism population.

Autism Prevalence

Individuals with autism often need assistance to find and retain employment, as indicated by a new research study done by Michigan State University education scholars.

Due to the fact 50,000 people currently suffer from autism turn 18 every year in America, these individuals may require help making the shift into the job market. However, transitioning youth with autism are the least likely to get a job, states Connie Sung, an MSU assistant professor who co-authored two studies on the subject.

She states, “More focus should be put on the transitioning population with autism spectrum disorder, in addition to children and the adult population. There’s a huge need for both vocational services and better coordination between the high schools and the vocational rehabilitation system to bridge the gaps.”

Autistic youth who are transitioning into adults who don’t find work, she adds, often face an increased possibility of sitting at home and at times it could lead to them developing low self-esteem and depression.

The Study

For one particular study, Dr. Sung and her colleagues reviewed information on 5,681 people with autism who used vocational job services. While transitioning youth, or those who are 17 years old and younger, represented the biggest group, only 47 percent of these individuals secured employment after receiving services. This fact remained true even with all of the participants having some previous work experience.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest estimation, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which is 120 percent higher than it was in 2002. Males are five times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than females.

Dr. Sung states, “These children grow and become adults, and what we realize is that more and more adults with autism spectrum disorder are facing significant issues with employment.”

Another study reviewed gender differences among 1,696 transitioning youth with autism when it came to finding and securing employment. Males particularly had a harder time finding a job when they experienced depression and anxiety. However, these males benefitted from counseling and guidance.
The study authors stated, “When working with males, special attention should be paid to the unique gender differences and their effects on employment. Specifically, providing vocational counseling and guidance to teach interpersonal and behavioral skills are especially important.”

In Conclusion:

Dr. Sung said it is vital to provide help for autistic youth to secure internships or jobs before they graduate from high school and to emphasize that work experience when seeking employment during the transitional phase.

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