Tired of focusing my Tuesday blog posts toward the gloom and doom of COVID. I have decided to re-shift Tuesday’s focus towards the need to hire autistic adults. According to a report from Drexel University, 58% of young adults of autism had a far lower rate than their peers according to the Longitude Transition Study. For those who worked, jobs were low wage and part time, 80% of them in fact and traditionally low wage.
I have worked since I was 18. This was through the encouragement of my mother. Until I was 25, when I landed my current job, I worked time-limited and part time jobs. While my job I have had for the past 11 years has been part time, it is rewarding and makes me happy to be there. I wouldn’t have been there this long if I didn’t like it. There were gaps between my time limited placements because I wasn’t happy with them and I wanted to just remain stagnant and not make an earning, the fear of government benefits, in part and the fear of specifically losing them was a fear in me not wanting me to work.
However, that changed when the director of the day program I presently attend referred me to a Certified Work Incentives Counselor (CWIC). The took my information and prepared a report that helped me see that it was beneficial to work part time rather than rely on government benefits alone. Sometimes, autistics such as myself cannot work part time because it can present a imbalance of one’s life and ability to recharge and take care of oneself. It is important to make sure that you can take care of yourself while working because you have no health without your mental health.
When the opportunity to work the job I presently have was brought to my attention over 11 years ago, I shied away from it saying I couldn’t do what was expected of me and be the worker I wasn’t expected to be. However, it was a distant relative that would be my supervisor and she was very adamant about having me join her team So I gave in, with little knowledge of what I was doing or what the job consisted. Nonetheless, on the job training was provided and it was very beneficial.
During the first few years, the challenging thoughts presented themselves big time. It prevented me from going to work at times. Luckily, I made those days and my employer was very understanding of my need to step aside when I become anxious and still are to this day. However, it is more controlled and I feel more at ease in what I do. It takes time, but once I get into something, I become well versed in it and excel at it too.
My employment has provided my to become blessed with many opportunities as our agency expanded and some tasks were available to meet my college requirements that I had later went to community college for because I wanted to learn more and there was funding to do so for my benefit and because I needed that experience. Other leadership opportunities have since presented itself, technology has been upgraded, making the job more pleasant and easier to perform.
As such I have developed a nice working relationship with my coworkers. I am a valued employee because of my autism and thanked immensely for it. I am thankful for my job, and sometimes it can be difficult when starting the day, but once I get to the workplace, I enjoy the day.
Now, I cant say that all workplaces are accommodating for individuals on the autism spectrum, however those that advocate for autistics and other individuals and others who present similar challenges I encourage them to be well versed in what is needed for the individuals’ employment and how things are working for in the workplace. Communication is key when expectations are needing to be met and sometimes it is uncomfortable to be out of one’s comfort zone. I encourage coworkers, if needed to be versed in this and make sure that the individual is at their maximum potential to do their best at their job and be a contributor to society.