Work as a route to choice and control for people with autism

Only 15 per cent of people with autism are in full-time employment,[54] so too many are financially and socially excluded by not working.[20] Employment can be a powerful mechanism in promoting control over an individual’s life. People with autism, with appropriate support, can really benefit from working.[82] The National Autistic Society’s specialist employment service has had good success in finding work for people with autism, placing 70 per cent of those they work with into employment.[82] Autistic people are often diligent, good at paying attention to detail and unlikely to move from job to job.[57]

Evidence that work leads to genuine social inclusion for those with autism is slight,[10] suggesting that more needs to be done to change employer and employee perceptions about autism. Autistic people report that employment support staff also need more knowledge about the skills and abilities they may have in order to avoid being placed in inappropriate roles; for example, placing someone with high-functioning autism in a job set up for someone with a learning disability.[62] ‘Think autism’ proposes further autism awareness training for Department for Work and Pensions staff such as disability employment advisers, and has developed a ‘Hidden impairment toolkit’ in partnership with employers and user organisations in order to make employment advisers, administrative staff and prospective employers more aware of the sorts of differences that autistic people present with. Engagement by employers with local autism partnership boards should also be encouraged.

Further reading