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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Autism Job Club

Many posts have discussed public and private efforts to encourage employment of autistic adults.

At Fox and Hounds, Michael Bernick writes:
This week The Autism Job Club is being published (book’s website). Richard Holden, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Regional Commissioner and I are the authors. Much of the book focuses on employment initiatives in California, especially a job club for adults with autism that we have been involved with in the Bay Area.
When I started in California’s autism community 24 years ago, autism was a little-known and little-discussed condition. Today, it is impossible to pick up a newspaper or book, or turn on the television, or go to the movies without an autism reference.
However, despite the heightened autism presence in public consciousness, the employment situation of adults with autism in California and nationwide has changed little. In the early 1990s, the unemployment rate among adults with autism was estimated at over 65%. Today, the unemployment estimates are as high or higher.
In the book we discuss the dynamics of this high unemployment rate. Chief among these dynamics are the heightened competition for all jobs and changing structure of employment, the sharp rise in government disability rolls, and the failure of several highly touted government initiatives, particularly the Ticket-to-Work, to have any significant impacts.
The book focuses on collective and individual efforts to increase employment of adults with autism. These are the efforts to place adults with autism in tech positions—including Ultra Testing, SAP, and Specialists Guild. They are the small businesses targeting adults with autism, such as the Rising Tide Car Wash, Roses for Autism, and the Agricultural Communities for Adults with Autism; and they are the larger businesses, such as Walgreens and Best Buy with autism initiatives. Most of all they are the art of the autism job coach, the understanding of the job placement techniques applicable to all workers and how these are tailored and taken up by adults with autism