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Finding Employment When You Have Autism

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No matter where you go in life, you’ll always need money. Our daily living situations cost money, including having food to eat and a place to live. Unfortunately, that stuff doesn’t come free. We may be able to get assistance, but we still have to contribute in some way. What if you want to go on vacation? That costs money. Driving a car costs money as well. Employment is the one of the only ways we can get income to meet our needs and wants in life.

Your skills and education will help determine your options for employment. In my experience, every individual with a form of autism struggles with employment, myself included. There are some individuals with autism who either can’t work or don’t want to. For those people, there are day programs available as well as group homes if their families can’t take care of them. Disability benefits may be an option for those people.

Working while disabled is an option for some people as well. Work can be a good thing for people with disabilities as it gives us something to do rather than sit home all day. I’d highly recommend trying to work part time if you’re receiving disability benefits. You’ll feel good about yourself. I felt that way when it comes to employment. Some people with more autism-related challenges can work, but can only do so much. For those people warehousing, janitorial work, retail, or even grocery stores can be some options for employment. Restaurants may be an option. Dishwashing or busboy may work.

Finding employment can be hard for people with less severe autism too. Some of us go to college, and may want to do what we went to school for. Some options include working with computers or in an office of some kind. Before I graduated college, I had a couple of different jobs. My first job was at a Burger King. Since school wasn’t going to be my way of learning to interact with peers properly, this job was. I had some behavior problems during my three-and-a-half years at Burger King, but it still helped me learn to interact with co-workers and taught me good customer service skills that I still use in my current job at a DMV. After that I did warehousing for three years. I had a couple of jobs after those two that didn’t work for me. They were bank teller and call center. I hated being a bank teller because I didn’t like working with money. I hated the call center because I hated being screamed at on the phone and being on the phone all day. I got nervous talking with customers on the phone as well.

Another common challenge for people with autism is filling out resumes and applications. Many people with autism have lots of skills, but they have trouble getting employers to realize it. I’ve had those problems throughout my life. Interviewing can be very hard — coping with nervousness, answering questions, as well as dressing appropriately for the interview. Getting job coaching can help with that. The job coach can go on the interview with you if you want. You have to be motivated to get a job; the job coach can’t help you if you’re not willing to do your part.

Behavior problems at work can be common for people with autism. I highly recommend reaching out to someone about that, such as a therapist. You can even discuss any issues with your therapist, job coach and/or supervisor. You still have to be on your best behavior at work or else you can’t work there, but being proactive may still help avoid problems.

If one job doesn’t work out, I encourage you to try again. Sometimes people with autism can have trouble holding jobs. Try to hold a job for at least five years; that will look well on your resume should a better opportunity arise. The more you’re in between jobs, the harder it may be to get another one. If you can work, be grateful, as some people with disabilities can’t. If you have a job, I believe you should feel grateful because there are many people regardless of disability who don’t have one.

Getty image by Urupong.

Originally published: September 9, 2018
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