Employment Support for Adults and Finding the Right Work for You
Each autistic individual has different needs, strengths and challenges. There are many types of employment for autistic individuals based on your abilities and interests. Everyone’s situation is unique. We provide information here to help you in whichever path is right for you.
Whether you’re 22 years old starting out or at any stage of adulthood, you and your family can seek assistance to help you find meaningful and valuable work options. If you haven’t yet, you and your family should seek assistance from local and state agencies that help people with disabilities obtain meaningful and valuable work options.
There are two primary agencies that serve people with disabilities relating to employment services. If you have not been connected to these agencies yet, you should apply as soon as possible. To find your state’s Department of Developmental Disabilities, go online and search “Department of Developmental Disabilities” and your state of residence.
Also get connected to your state’s vocational employment agency that helps people with disabilities find competitive work, to develop skills to find and maintain a job. In Ohio, that agency is Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD). The Rehabilitation Services Administration provides this gateway to the various state agencies. Your state's vocational employment agency may help you with getting or finding out about asking for job accommodations such as having a job coach that might help you be successful.
There are various kinds of job accommodations such as having a job coach that might help you be successful. The Supporting Autistic Employees page on the Milestones website includes information about potential job accommodations to help you think through options.
If you are still in high school, you must exit from high school by age 22 (whether on the exact date of your birthday or shortly before or after). School district services end at this time.
At 22 years old individuals transition to employment, a day program or post-secondary education as appropriate.
Finding Employment that is Right for You
As an adult, the most important thing is to find a job doing something you could enjoy. However, it’s important to understand the difference between a hobby you love like watching video games vs. doing a job that you get paid for. You may not have the job of your dreams but you can find a job that builds off your interests.
It can be very helpful to learn more about the kinds of jobs you are interested in. What do people in those jobs do during a typical day? What kind of environment is their job in - is it indoors working at a desk, or in a factory, or outdoors? Are there a lot of people there or do people work alone? What kind of training do they need? The National Occupational Outlook Handbook can provide information about different jobs.
Maybe you can find someone in that kind of job to talk to and learn more about it. This is often called an informational interview, asking someone in a job and/or organization if you can schedule time to to learn more about their work. You prepare some questions for them and listen to what they share. Afterwards, you send them a thank you email for their time. They may recommend some steps to take or people to meet to help you in finding a job. Your vocational services provider can help with this.
Learning about the reality of a job can be very helpful. Keep in mind that pretty much every job involves things that don’t appeal to you like doing some kind of tasks you don’t like to do. Almost every job includes some cleaning. Whether it’s taking out the trash or cleaning your desk, for example.
You may not understand everyone you work with or think some people are difficult. Everyone is different. We get along great with lots of people and some not as much, but we need to learn to work well with everyone as part of our job. That’s part of working in the real world.
Employment First is a policy to ensure every individual of working age has an opportunity to seek employment.