The world is filled with diverse talents and abilities, and it is crucial that we create inclusive career opportunities for everyone, including individuals on the autism spectrum.
Many autistic individuals desire to be employed, but companies often lack the knowledge to implement and manage an inclusive workforce.
“A conservative estimate is about 50,000-60,000 autistic people turn 18 annually. They graduate from high school and are ready to take on college and careers, yet four in 10 adults with autism never work for pay between high school and their early 20s” (Palumbo, 2022).
As a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the marginalized communities in our society, we are actively working towards inclusivity and providing employment opportunities for individuals on the autism spectrum. We want to unlock the career potential of autistic individuals and advocate for a supportive and fulfilling work environment for them.
In this article, we want to highlight some of the best opportunities for autistic individuals and want to provide tips on how to find autism-friendly jobs near you. We’ll also describe the internal opportunities that we have available for career-minded autistic individuals.
Understanding Autism and Employment
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), affects people in unique ways. Some autistic individuals possess exceptional attention to detail, strong analytical skills, and unwavering focus, making them highly valuable in certain professional fields. However, many face obstacles in traditional work environments due to sensory sensitivities, social challenges, and communication differences.
Fortunately, as awareness grows, more employers are recognizing the strengths and potential of autistic individuals, leading to the creation of autism-friendly jobs and workplaces. These opportunities aim to accommodate and harness the abilities of individuals on the spectrum while addressing their unique challenges.
Here are some examples of autism-friendly career paths, and why they work:
- IT, Computer Programming, and Data Analysis: Autistic individuals often excel in fields that require attention to detail and logical thinking. The tech industry, particularly computer programming and software development, offers a range of roles suited to their skills. The structured and systematic nature of coding can be an excellent fit for individuals with autism.
- Graphic Design and Digital Arts: Many autistic individuals have a keen eye and an exceptional visual sense. Jobs in graphic design, web development, and digital arts allow them to leverage their creativity, attention to detail, and visual acuity.
- Library or Archival Work: Libraries, archives, and museums often offer roles that cater to the strengths of autistic individuals. Meticulous organization, attention to detail, and a naturally structured environment can make these professions an ideal fit.
- Accounting and Bookkeeping: Jobs in finance, accounting, and bookkeeping require precision, accuracy, and an eye for detail, which are qualities often found in individuals on the autism spectrum.
While many of these attributes are research proven, it is important to not make sweeping generalizations of an autistic individual and assume they are comfortable with one position or the other. Engage in discussions to discover their strengths before allocating or assuming a fit of any potential career opportunity.
Creating Autism-Friendly Workplaces
To ensure the success and well-being of autistic employees, it is crucial for employers to create autism-friendly work environments. Here are some strategies employers can implement:
- Sensory Considerations: Provide a sensory-friendly workplace by minimizing excessive noise, bright lighting, and strong smells. Offering noise-cancelling headphones, adjustable lighting, and designated quiet spaces can make a significant difference.
- Clear Communication: Employers should prioritize clear and direct communication, avoiding figurative language or ambiguous instructions. Providing written instructions or visual aids can enhance understanding and reduce anxiety.
- Structured Work Environment: Establishing clear routines, processes, and expectations can help autistic individuals navigate their workday more effectively. A structured environment provides stability and reduces stress levels.
- Flexibility: Offering flexible work hours or remote work options can be beneficial for individuals who may struggle with the demands of a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule. Flexibility allows employees to manage their energy levels effectively.
While we list these strategies geared towards autistic employees, in reality these are all broad-based concepts that would benefit any employee, regardless of their potential challenges.
Expanding Career Opportunities within Believing Through Achieving
As Believing Through Achieving continues to expand its online student base, additional career opportunities emerge for autistic individuals within various departments of the company. Let’s take a closer look at some of these areas:
- Social Media Marketing: Because autistic individuals often possess a keen eye for detail, creativity, and a unique perspective they can be well-suited for roles in social media marketing. They can contribute fresh ideas and diversity while engaging with the company’s online community effectively.
- Administrative Department: Organizational skills and a methodical approach are valuable attributes for administrative roles. Autistic individuals can excel in tasks such as data entry, scheduling, and record-keeping, ensuring the smooth operation of the company.
- Content Creation/Video Editing: Autistic individuals often exhibit a high level of focus and creativity. In the content creation department, they can contribute their unique perspectives and skills in developing engaging written, visual, and multimedia content while editing that content with a meticulous approach and commitment to quality.
- Affiliate Ambassadors/Creating Residual Income: Believing Through Achieving also offers a distinctive opportunity for autistic individuals to act as Affiliate Ambassadors for their online platform. As Affiliate Ambassadors, autistic individuals can refer new students to the platform and create a residual income stream. This program not only recognizes the value of their contributions but also empowers them to become advocates for the company, expanding its reach and impact.
The Affiliate Ambassador program leverages the social networks and connections of autistic individuals to expand the network of the organization. Students who refer new participants receive financial incentives, while the referred students gain access to a valuable platform. This initiative promotes self-employment, financial independence, and entrepreneurial skills among autistic individuals.
- Online Graders Academy: We have also established an Online Graders Academy, specifically designed for students who have reached the intermediate level of their martial arts curriculum. This unique program allows these students to become graders, responsible for evaluating and grading the challenges that they have already completed. By participating in this academy, autistic individuals can develop and hone valuable skills in assessment, critical thinking, and attention to detail.
The Online Graders Academy not only provides an avenue for personal growth and empowerment but also contributes to the growth of Believing Through Achieving as a whole. Autistic graders play a vital role in shaping the experience of future students and ensuring the quality of the curriculum. This program recognizes and harnesses the unique strengths of autistic individuals, fostering a sense of purpose and belonging within the company.
At our company, we prioritize internal promotions, ensuring that both neurotypical and neurodivergent employees have equal opportunities to advance to the highest executive positions as the company expands.
We want to stand in the career field as a shining example of an organization that actively embraces the strengths and potential of autistic individuals. By expanding career opportunities, introducing the Affiliate Ambassador program, and establishing the Online Graders Academy, we have created a truly inclusive work environment adaptable to any potential career seeker.
By providing opportunities in diverse areas, Believing Through Achieving ensures that autistic individuals can pursue careers aligned with their skills and interests, fostering a sense of fulfillment and professional growth.
Finding Autism-Friendly Jobs Near You
Aside from the opportunities at Believing Through Achieving, finding autism-friendly jobs can require targeted search strategies. Here are some approaches to help you in your search:
- Local Autism Organizations: Reach out to local autism support organizations, vocational training centers, or employment agencies. They can provide information about companies and industries that prioritize autism-friendly practices.
- Online Job Platforms: Utilize online job platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. Use keywords like “autism-friendly” or “neurodiversity” in your search to narrow down the results.
- Networking: Leverage your personal and professional networks to learn about autism-friendly employers or potential job opportunities. Attend industry events or join relevant online communities to connect with like-minded individuals.
- Direct Employer Outreach: Research companies known for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Contact their human resources departments directly to inquire about their autism-friendly initiatives and potential job openings.
Creating inclusive and autism-friendly workplaces is not only morally right but also beneficial for employers and society. The unique abilities and perspectives of autistic individuals can contribute to diverse and innovative workplaces.
By recognizing their strengths and providing necessary accommodations, employers can unlock the potential of individuals on the autism spectrum. With the right support and access to autism-friendly jobs, autistic individuals can thrive professionally and make significant contributions in various fields.
Together, let’s nurture an inclusive society that celebrates neurodiversity and ensures that all individuals have equitable access to rewarding employment opportunities and an equal chance to thrive and succeed.
Palumbo, J. (2022). The Range of Career Options for Autistic Individuals. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferpalumbo/2022/08/31/the-range-of-careers-options-for-autistic-individuals/?sh=7c6bbc7a5df0