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Believe it or not, for most people, autism creates a barrier for employment. It doesn’t have anything to do with the individual but the lack of understanding and awareness.
Remember; everyone is different. Every has different barriers so the blog post may not be completely accurate.
For one thing, the job itself. For me, retail and fast food will not work because of
- Having to work fast
- change tasks quickly
- fast pace
- loud noises
- I won’t be able to take needed breaks
- constantly changing schedule and/or position.
- If I need clear direct instructions but the boss doesn’t have the time/patience.
My mom wanted me to work in retail. I tried getting her to understand why retail will be too much for me but to no avail. Simply ‘taking deep breaths’ won’t work if I am still in the environment that is causing my anxiety. If someone faints from the heat, you get them in the shade or an air-conditioned space. If someone is dying of hypothermia, you get that person warmth. Not keep them in the setting that is causing their distress. I mean when someone is in distress, you get them out of the setting that caused it.
I need clear, direct instructions to know what I am expected to do. If the instructions are not clear, I won’t understand what needs to be done and it won’t get done or will be done incorrectly. Say the boss gives me subtle instructions and I don’t understand what I am supposed to do. I ask for more clarity and the boss expects me to know. I don’t do the job correctly and the boss gets angry. Too many incidents and I will be fired.
These are possible things to keep in mind.
I need to be able to go at my own pace. Break up the workflow. When I do my YouTube content. One day I will record, the next time prep the video, and then edit.
Office jobs will not work because certain lighting causes me sensory issues which can be headaches or terrible nausea. I need to be able to do my stims without complaints from other works and/or bullying and shaming. Also without causing me to get written up. Remember autistic behavior is read differently to Nts
Although I originally wrote this in 2018, this is a blog post I wrote regarding how autism can complicate employment.
I would say the interview is the next barrier. Let’s say a question I don’t know how to answer comes up. If you look at the blog post I wrote about that program, I would have failed if it was a real interview.
If the interviewer ask follow ups and I don’t know how to answer or ask them too fast for me to absorb it and understand.
I need time to think about the question to give an answer which can make my chances of passing the interview slim.
Social interactions. Not being able to pick up non verbal cues.
Being unable to pick on on body language will cause problems. I was talking to someone at Subway and my mom used a non-verbal cue to tell me to stop; because autism hinders your ability to understand social cues, I had no clue what it meant and kept talking.
I will be subject to bullying either by the patrons or co-workers.
Missing non-verbal cues, body language will cause a problem.
Jobs that have the setting the person can manage are most likely inaccessible or unavailable.
There is probably a job out there for me however it is inaccessible.
Something that is ideal for me
- Something that allows me to work from home
- Where I can go at my own pace
- Where I can adjust my environment ( change the lighting, have a fan/heater, etc)
- Where I can take a needed break(s).
- No crowds
- Nothing fast-paced
- Where I can get step-by-step, clear instructions
I went through a job program that I thought would help me. They gave me a coach that refused to believe that I am autistic, refused to understand the barriers that get in my way, and recommended jobs that she thinks fit me rather than what I KNOW fits me. She sent me for an ‘assessment’ only to say I can do retail which is what I would not be able to do for the reasons I listed.
There needs to be job programs that actually work with you. That actually narrow it down to jobs that will work for you.
You need to look past ‘stocking shelves’ you need to look at
- being bounced all around the store when that messes with their routine
- schedule constantly changing
- being put in overwhelming situations
- being called in on off days which are needed to recover from burnout.
- being at risk of being fired if it’s not done fast enough
- sensory issues like crowds
- being called to cover for someone
Look past the job and also look at possible scenarios and the setting of the job.
Actually listen to the person when they tell you what job is ideal for them.
A job that is ideal for me would be writing jobs. Or reviewing products for companies. Maybe to help small companies. They don’t have the money for ads like larger companies do.
If there is a program that helps autistics find employment, it needs to do a precise assessment to find what job works. I mean ask questions. Do a skills assessment. What ever skills scores high, find a job that requires that skill. Say if they score low for efficiency then you know jobs that require it are out.
If their writing skill scores high, or SEO. Ding Ding Ding you have a match.
Find them writing jobs etc
This was my original impression of that program I’ve been ranting about for 3 years. I did that to remind myself to always get info. Even though my mom originally calls them, I take responsibility. When I asked my mom about these people and she kept saying ‘ I don’t know’ I should have found that dodgy asked for the number and called them myself to get info. If the program didn’t seem like it would help me, cancel my appointment and I would have avoided the struggling I went through due to that lady refusing to believe my autism.
Everyone employment barriers are different. For the autistics who are employed, chances are they got diognoised early in their childhood therefore making it easier to get services. The later you wait, the harder it is. I am not saying this is the case for everyone. I found out at 14/15. I was a teen.
I follow a mom and she got services for her autistic kids. Probably because the later she waits the harder it will be. Plus if she gets them services early, it could be easier to carry said support through school and so on.
Also people think you grow out of autism at 18 so availability for adult services is scarce.
So, that’s that. Even though I have never had a job due to autism, I imagine if someone were to contact me for feedback on what keeps autistics out of the workplace, what would I say.
Another thing is that people will argue ‘there are people with X’ who work.
Let’s consider if they have to fight for days off to go to appointments, they may eventually quit because they are sick of fighting for their health. Most jobs are picky with employees needing days off.
You can argue ‘do it on your days off’ if the job changes your schedule frequently it can be tough to do that.
To fix the chronic unemployment within the autism community, there needs to be jobs for that particular person. We can’t assume retail or fast-food is ideal just because it works for Tom.