What are the barriers that prevent those with autism from being employed? Many adults on the autism spectrum struggle to gain fruitful employment because they may lack some of the social skills that are necessary in successfully interviewing and picking up on the “unwritten rules” of the corporate world. Many adults on the autistic spectrum work well with task oriented, step-by-step responsibilities, and adaptations may need to be made when it comes to working with teams or jobs where responsibilities are always changing.
According to Leanne Suarez, a Green Bridge Growers’ board member and Parent Liaison for the Autism Center at Logan Center of South Bend, there is a lack of opportunity for adults on the autism spectrum because few training programs exist to transition those with autism to the workforce. She believes that if there were more programs that existed for teens with autism, there would be an easier pathway from high school to the working world. Leanne also recognizes that many adults on the autism spectrum are capable of pursuing higher education, but even with a college degree, the problem of unemployment still persists. Oftentimes adults on the autism spectrum lack support teams to help them adjust and maintain employment, which is why there is a continuing need for appropriate programming.
Leanne of Logan Center also believes that given the right opportunities, adults with autism can thrive as employees. She believes these individuals have great strengths and talents, and given the right chance to find job placement, adults on the spectrum are great employees. Adults with autism are typically on time, very reliable, and love what they do. If more employers were willing to take extra steps to give them support, they would have a very dedicated and fruitful employee.
Green Bridge Growers has seen many of our own trainees grow in their confidence and capabilities through their work with us. A few have shared the impact this work has had for them and we are very proud of them. Xavier, one of our trainees, noted that he has grown through his work at Green Bridge Growers, and has learned to talk to people in a more professional manner. He believes Green Bridge Growers is helping him take steps to improve his future.
Matt has shared that he has grown in his patience for learning how to work with various individuals, helping him thrive at Green Bridge Growers and in the future. Chris has enjoyed his time working in the greenhouse, giving him a chance to work with other people as a team. We are inspired every day by all of Green Bridge Growers trainees - they continue to demonstrate that adults on the autism spectrum are capable of thriving in the workforce. We are proud of what Green Bridge Growers has been able to contribute as a creative solution to the problem of unemployment, and we are excited to see what new ideas will be developed around the country to create more employment opportunities for young adults on the autism spectrum.
- Erin Taylor
Erin is a Saint Mary's College senior and blogger extraordinaire who majors in communication. Her buoyant personality and writing skills will be very much missed when she heads off to the nation's capital for work at a public relations firm after graduation this spring.