Oftentimes when we try to relate autistics with being employed, autistics and employers alike often think it is impossible. I at times think I don’t want to work and like many others think it is easier to become a vegetable. But what good what that do? I would remain in home day in and day out, eat excessively and gain weight. Oftentimes, having a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t prove well for many reasons. If one keeps everything in check and has the ability to garner the skills to do something frank and productive, then their talents should be sought out and used to their maximum potential.
Now, I should say that I understand that every autistic has to work. That is certainly not the case. As much as autism is a spectrum like disorder, also the ability to work is of the spectrum variety. Some can do so well that they can do it full time. Some individuals such as myself are only able to perform a job part time for various reasons of overwhelming characteristics and the need to be focused on self-regulation and self-care. Lastly, we must also recognize there are autistics that are likely unable to work because of their inability to communicate, focus or be independent when doing employment-related tasks.
With the varied capacity of what an autistic individual can do, their line of work that they choose to pursue also should be tailored as much as possible to fit their ability. In a mid-pandemic world where opportunities are abounding, many autistics are a pivotal resource in many jobs in the community. When I started my job 11 years ago, I had no plans of being in the workforce in the manner I wanted to be. I just wanted to sail by attending day program and banking by solely on government benefits alone. Yes, I still need them because of my inability to be gainfully employed because it is a not only a financial resource, but it opens the door the other qualifications such as SNAP, public housing waivers, healthcare benefits, etc. that I could not otherwise not receive if I didn’t have the benefits.
I got into the line of work I have been in because a distant relative who would become my supervisor sought out a employment program of the day program I have been attending to seek persons to work for them. She was very adamant about having me join their team that when the placement was termed to end that it was decided that the level of supports would change that the position would change ownership from the day programs to my own with customized supports that I would need. There are several of these supported employment models across the nation and while I would like to say they are all equal, they are not. Some are time-limited and supports vary from entity to entity but if you do your research and find the entity that would be willing to work with the autistic challenges one has, it will be a matchmaker that could pan a success.
As the years progressed, I have fell in love with the line of work I am in. I am very passionate about what I do and by doing so has opened up the door to additional opportunities that I am immensely grateful for. Another part of that is about asking for the proper accommodations one needs to complete the job and not have it toned down to a miniscule task to create busy work for one. Having a neurodiverse and inclusive workplace is essential and can be successful if established correctly and treating everyone equally while attempting to find a delicate balance at making everyone feel as they are part of the team with the goal in mind of getting the work done at the end of the day in good manner.
As such, autistic should try in earnest if they are able to find of some sort, whether for pay or not to find their calling where they can utilize their talents and display their maximum potential. While the ideal situation would be to work for pay, at first that may not be possible and a volunteer opportunity may be needed to be sought to ease one into working and discovering how to manage one’s challenges while seeking their talents and using them to the entity’s benefit so that one can feel as if they are performing a good deed and feel as if they are a contributing member of society.