Navigating this stupid broken job market is tough enough for your average high school or college graduate, but what about those who fall on the autism spectrum? Despite what the Big Bang Theory and Rainman tell us, autistic people aren't all hilariously kooky magic engineers from space (Special Skills: Knowing when you dropped 17 matches). Difficulty communicating and an inability to read social cues makes sucking up in job interviews practically impossible—and what is a job interview, really, besides a delicately choreographed social-cue jamboree?
A new study has found that, seven years after high school graduation, 35% of autistic young adults still have no paid employment experience or higher education. That's higher than adults with developmental disabilities, speech problems, and learning disabilities.
The data is troubling:
Within the next 10 years, more than 500,000 kids with autism will reach adulthood, said Peter Bell, vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group that helped pay for the study.
"It's a huge, huge issue," Bell said. "Unfortunately there are many families that really struggle to understand what that transition ultimately entails. ...They face the reality of having a child who may potentially not be able to have enough services to keep them busy during the day."
"It's only going to get worse ..." Bell said.
Specialized job training programs and rigorous instruction in social cues can ease the transition into adulthood and independence for autistic teenagers. So, we'll see how that goes. Because there's nothing this country loves more than funding public programs for disadvantaged adults to whom we cannot relate.
Photo credit (C) ilona75 / Stockfresh.