October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month. To honor NDEAM, I will be taking a break for the month from the Adulting Series and Emphasizing on areas of Employment and Autism. This week, I will be discussing the statistics and getting the job you want.
In June 2014, only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9 percent were unemployed, meaning only 16.8 percent of the population with disabilities was employed. (By contrast, 69.3 percent of people without disabilities were in the labor force, and 65 percent of the population without disabilities was employed.) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014)
This hurts me in a way because 1.) I have had a job since the age of 18 and 2.) I see the misinformation in my community alone regarding Autists working. Let alone, there are several families that don’t even see this as a possibility in transition, however this is mainly due to mis-education in the fact that if government benefits are attained that they will likely be lost as a result of working. Nonetheless, if one ensures themselves by reding the appropriate literature such as the Red Book which is the guiding light in making sure that you as the beneficiary are informed that you are informed of the earnings limits so that you do not cross them.
But there is more to a job than earning money. Does one know have the social skills necessary to convey what they need in an employment setting? Do they know what to do in the instance of workplace bullying (it does happen)? Are they educated in understanding what is their work and what is not their work? The list goes on and on, but education in what occurs in the workplace is key in making sure that the autist succeeds in their employment venture.
As far as what will they be doing, one must remember that whether using a disability employment agency of fairing it out on your own, make sure that it is something that they the autist are comfortable in doing and can handle all elements of the job and what it requires. It may not be what they want in the end, but those building blocks get you to a better job.
For example, I started my path to employment at the age of 18 when I was a senior in High School. I received job training through a high school youth program where I worked part time at a grocery store part-time. While the position was time-limited and the sponsoring agency paid the wages, for the most part I did enjoy it, except for the time I had to clean human waste off the floor, but that was part of the job, although years later my mom disagrees with this.
Nonetheless, after graduating school I landed another part time gig through the same agency until a different program secured me the job, I have today been a “true employee” of the agency I work for. Now I do work part time simply because I cannot mentally handle the concept of full time and it does not hamper my government benefits, although I do receive a little less benefits as a result, including less food stamps, but one thing that my Certified Work Incentives Counselor (C-WIC) stated to me when I started this job a decade ago, that you come out ahead by working by producing more earnings than benefits alone, and a mutual benefit of feeling that you are doing your part for society by contributing your part to it as well.
Nonetheless, my point is that if you want to work, you can make it happen, and you will get to the point of content and satisfaction that you are happy with if you give it time and patience. If you can dream it, do it! The possibilities are endless.