Autism is a neurological developmental disability with an estimated prevalence of one to two percent of the American and worldwide population. The diversity of the disability means that each person's individual experience of autism and needs for supports and services can vary widely. For this reason, the clinical diagnosis in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 uses the term autism spectrum disorder. However, all children, youth, and adults on the autism spectrum experience a common atypical neurological profile with several key traits. Namely, they have atypical language and communication, social interaction, motor coordination and sensory processing, and executive functioning.
Americans on the autism spectrum experience substantial challenges to attaining competitive integrated employment opportunities that match their interests, gifts, and talents. They experience substantial unemployment and underemployment, according to the research literature. Adults and youth on the autism spectrum also experience barriers to completing postsecondary education and training opportunities, accessing healthcare, and attaining integrating community living.
Employers have increasingly focused on expanding efforts to improve access to employment for job candidates on the autism spectrum to tap their diverse talents. Many large and small employers have adjusted their recruitment, hiring, and onboarding policies and practices to increase access for this population. Resources that can help employers and others support employees on the autism spectrum include the following:
Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable: Disability:IN initiative established by six large employers with autism-focused hiring initiatives, which shares overview information on the initiatives' business models, and provides guidance to employers that are interested in developing autism-focused hiring initiatives.
Accommodation Ideas for Autism: Guidance from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) on workplace supports for employees on the autism spectrum and accommodations for the interviewing process to increase access for job candidates on the autism spectrum.
JAN Workplace Accommodation Toolkit: Toolkit on workplace accommodations that features a series of Just-in Time Training Videos on topics that include accommodations for employees on the autism spectrum.
Neurodiversity in the Workplace Webpage: This resource from the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) explains neurodiversity in the workplace context, addressing how it can benefit employers and employees alike, common accommodations for employees with autism and other neurocognitive differences, and related hiring initiatives and partnerships implemented by a range of companies.
Understanding Autism: An Employer's Guide: Mini-guide developed by the Organization for Autism Research, which provides guidance for employers on supervising and supporting employees on the autism spectrum.
Managing an Autistic Employee: Article by the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom that discusses tips and strategies for supervising employees on the autism spectrum.
An Employer's Guide to Employee Assistance Programs: Report developed by the National Business Group on Health to help employers realize the strategic value of an employee assistance program and its business benefits.
Employing Individuals with Autism: Video by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities that shares the benefits Walgreens has seen in hiring employees with disabilities, including employees on the autism spectrum.
Autism-friendly Apprenticeships: Info-brief by the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom that shares recommendations for ensuring apprenticeship opportunities support full access and inclusion for youth and adults on the autism spectrum.
To Tell or Not to Tell: Issues of Disclosure in the Workplace: Issue brief released by the Center for Autism Research at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that discusses self-disclosure by youth and adults on the autism spectrum who are seeking job opportunities.
Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Quality Employment Practices: Brief developed by the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts-Boston that shares best practices for fostering employment access for adults on the autism spectrum.
F.I.T. for Success on the Job: Creating Successful Employment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Mini-guide developed by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities that discusses five key focuses for increasing workplace success for employees on the autism spectrum.
Transition to Adulthood: Guidelines for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guidebook on postsecondary transition developed under a recommendation from the Ohio Autism Task Force and with support from the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities.
PEAT Talks: Neurodiversity & Service Providers: Archived webinar by the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) on advancements in making technology accessible to improve workplace access for people with cognitive and other neurological disabilities.
Cybersecurity Careers for Autistic People: Archived webinar by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce), which discusses how careers in cybersecurity-related fields can fit the strengths and talents of many adults on the autism spectrum.
Job/Career Development and Preparing the Workplace to Support an Employee with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Video by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities that discusses an employer-centered approach to supporting job development for job seekers on the autism spectrum.
2017 Report to Congress on Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Interagency report mandated by the Autism CARES Act, which shares research, gaps in services and supports, and priorities for improving transition to employment, postsecondary education, and community living for youth and young adults on the autism spectrum.
National Autism Indicators Reports: Report series released by Drexel University's A. J. Drexel Autism Institute, which presents research findings for Vocational Rehabilitation, postsecondary transition, and developmental disability services.
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee: Federal advisory committee that coordinates and monitors federal activities related to autism, including development of the federal Strategic Plan for Autism outlining priorities for research, services, and resource development.
ASDNext: Pennsylvania initiative focused on teens and young adults on the autism spectrum, which shares blog posts authored by youth on the autism spectrum and resources for transition to employment, postsecondary education, and community living.
College Autism Network: Portal on college access for students on the autism spectrum, which shares training materials, research study findings, and other resources focused on bolstering supports and services for college students on the autism spectrum to improve outcomes.
Collaborative Career Planning for College Students with ASD: Virginia Commonwealth University resources on enhancing career planning for college students on the autism spectrum and integrating strategies for employment supports and employer outreach.
Transition Truths: Developmental Disabilities: Resource developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, which shares information for youth on federally funded developmental disability services and resources.
Teens Talking to Teens: Youth-centered resource on transition, which the Center for Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill developed from ideas generated by youth on the autism spectrum.
Considering Community Service: Career Development for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Research-to-practice toolkit on community service engagement for youth on the autism spectrum that was developed by the Institute for Community Inclusion under a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.