The 2nd of April is Autism Awareness Day. I chose to specifically learn more about autism and employment for a couple of reasons: firstly, autistic spectrum disorders are not a completely new subject to me (I have quite a few ASD friends, and was in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome for a couple of years); and secondly, because I would like to learn how to make the workplace more supportive for someone on the autistic spectrum.
What I discovered
I learned that 80% of adults with autism are unemployed. That is huge, especially as many people on the autistic spectrum have a lot of abilities. I read about the different discrimination some people with autism face, as well as a lack of support in helping them realise their potential.
I went to Autism NZ and spoke to the Outreach Coordinator (who happens to be my sister-in-law). She gave me information for employers to help support autistic employees (in case I am in a position in the future where I might employ or work alongside someone on the autistic spectrum).
I asked her whether there are any befriending programmes for neurotypical people to spend time with people with autism. She said not yet but she would look into whether this could be set up.
I also gave her information about the Achievement Trust who employs people with intellectual disabilities, as she said that might be interesting for some of her clients.