Despite the many social strides that have been made in 2018, it’s still far too difficult for adults with autism to find work. With prevalence rates now showing 1 in 40 people with autism, only 16 percent are in full-time paid positions, and those people can face criticism, isolation, and discrimination in the workplace.

People with autism deserve more opportunity for employment and fair treatment when they are employed. Furthermore, it’s possible that in minimizing employment opportunities for those with autism, we miss out on the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce, in which the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits are regarded as part of a normal variation in the human population, and squander their unique talent.

In 2018, we have finally begun to see a national conversation budding around advocacy for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the workplace, but simply put, adults with autism want and deserve more opportunities to exercise their strengths and feel engaged in the workplace.

At CentralReach, we’re working to create those opportunities through our ReachOut Program. While our clients support the lifespan of needs of children and adults with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities, we saw the incredible need of creating employment opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum. CentralReach now employs an inclusive team that includes adults on the autism spectrum.

Beyond how the program proudly seeks to address the need for greater neurodiversity in the professional world, we are excited to see how it is making a significant difference in the everyday morale not only for the adults in the program, but for their families who have witnessed a major change in their adult children and have entirely new outlooks on what is possible for them in their adult lives.

Family members of participants in the ReachOut Program report that they have seen huge improvements in the quality of life of their adult children as a result of the program.

“My son was incredibly bored, disengaged, and longed for a job,” said one mother. It was difficult for her to imagine an independent future for him where so few job opportunities existed. After just six months in the program, he has a newfound sense of responsibility, a better relationship with his family, is helping to pay bills and opening up more. Another program participant has learned to drive and bought his own car since joining the program, and many more examples exist.

These individuals bring remarkable talent and work ethic to the team at CentralReach. We’re excited to continue to grow the ReachOut program in the coming year, and to advocate for the equal opportunity and treatment of adults with autism in the workplace.