In 2014, Governor Patrick signed the Autism Omnibus Act, expanding supports and services for individuals with autism living in Massachusetts. As a result of this important legislation, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be eligible for services from the Department of Development Services (DDS) without having an intellectual disability. Employment support will be an important part of the service array for individuals who will now be eligible for DDS services.
What do quality employment supports look like for individuals with ASD?
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) cover a wide range of neurodevelopmental conditions. Core features include:
- Difficulty with social interaction
- Impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication
- Restricted, repetitive, and stereotypical patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities
- Difficulty processing sensory information
- Difficulty planning movements
- High levels of anxiety
Each person with ASD is unique. Even those who share a common diagnosis differ dramatically from in their skills, interests, motivation, ability to communicate, behavior, and social ability.
The most important consideration in helping an individual with autism find a job is making the job match and developing an individualized plan for support in the workplace. Three broad areas must be considered:
- The interests and skills of the person
- His or her learning style
- The environmental demands on the worker related to communication, sensory input, social interaction, and organizational norms
There are many reasons to be optimistic that employment options for people with autism will continue to improve. And you can help make this happen! We know a whole lot about effective employment supports. We also recognize that there are valuable strengths and skills that job seekers with autism can offer to employers, given a good job match: meticulous attention to detail, attraction to process-oriented jobs, and adherence to rules and honesty are just a few.