In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Many posts have discussed efforts to provide them with training and experience.
So, jobs are few for people on the spectrum, and adults with the condition have an estimated 80% to 90% unemployment rate. “One of the ways people choose to address this is by creating a business that allows them to be self-employed,” says Angela Geiger, CEO of Autism Speaks, an advocacy and support organization, which has a business-accelerator program.
By launching their own companies, people on the spectrum can create a work environment that fits their comfort level and doesn’t force them to navigate the traditional, heavily social office setting. Very often, though, their key to success is not to try for independence, but to build up a network of supporters who will help them with the business.
“It’s how interdependent can you get,” says Mr. Raede. “Try to get as many people you can rely on, not one. I want to have 10,000 people I know and can rely on.”
His online community is built on that concept, offering support groups and online courses to facilitate learning on a mass scale.
One of the best ways those supporters can help someone on the spectrum become self employed is to identify and build on their skills instead of trying to change behavior or have them do something they can’t, says Cary Griffin, co-founder of Griffin-Hammis Associates, a Florence, Mont., consulting firm that specializes in developing self-employment opportunities for people with disabilities. If a person can’t manage bookkeeping or marketing, for instance, others can.