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How does Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome affect employment?

‘Transitioning’ used in terms of the Autism Spectrum, refers to the move between two periods of life, and getting it right always requires a little pre-planning.

It usually refers to the move from primary to secondary school, and a little less commonly, the move from secondary school to further/higher education. What isn’t talked about so much, however, is the move into employment from education.

Employment in Autism seems to be a problem; from 2009, according to research by the National Autistic Society, only around 15% of people on the Autism Spectrum are in paid full time employment, and only 9% in part time employment.

So why are the numbers of people on the Autism Spectrum in employment so scarce? If I had to hazard a guess, as someone on the Autism Spectrum myself, I’d say that the problem is that a huge portion of jobs require at least some dealing with consumers, whether through email or in person, and all jobs require at least some interaction with co-workers.

If employers aren’t educated about the problems that people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism face, then often people on the Autism Spectrum will find themselves dealing with disciplinary measures, hassle from peers or superiors. This can be over being too blunt, misunderstanding instruction due to use of expressions, or taking a little while to process things.

The thing is, people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism can be genuinely great workers. The ability to hyper-focus, in particular on specialities, can mean that people on the Autism Spectrum often have a real advantage in terms of concentration over people who aren’t on the spectrum.

In addition, people on the Autism Spectrum can have a way of thinking laterally that helps them find solutions to problems which may otherwise be missed by people who aren’t on the spectrum themselves.

In short, there needs to be a little more awareness of the difficulties people face when it comes to employment in Autism, but there could be definite pluses to being on the spectrum in some areas of employment.