You Aut to Know | Hard Labor: The Truth about Jobs and Autism
Finding work in today’s economy can be a challenge. However, when you’re on the spectrum, “challenge” is sugarcoating it. I should know, after all, because I’ve experienced such hardships before. In fact, I’m going through them now! That’s why for this article, I really want to tell you all what it’s like. People need to know, so I intend to raise awareness of the difficulties I’ve faced when seeking employment. Here’s the truth about jobs and autism.
If job seeking’s like running a race, then my track’s been full of hurdles. For my job hunt throughout the years, I always had one question in the back of my head: “Do I tell them?” Was I supposed to tell my potential employers that, yes, I had autism? That it meant I perceived information differently and that this might impact the way I do my job and interact with others, even though I was qualified? There were times I regretted being open about it. Eight years ago, I’d applied for a job with the TSA and passed the interview－I’d even passed the bomb detection simulator and I’d forgotten my glasses! But when the medical evaluation came up, I told the doctor I was on the autism spectrum. He then wrote some things down and I was called later that week saying I’d somehow been put on a “waitlist” and that they’d “let [me] know when something opened up”; given that there had been many open positions when I applied, I put two and two together and felt dejected about the whole ordeal. The sad reality is that even though employers aren’t legally allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities, it’s still done to this day and can be orchestrated in such a manner that there’s no way to prove it even happened! I felt so despondent about it that it took me many years before I told another employer about my autism－I thought that it was hurting my chances of success.
If my experiences haven’t convinced you, then here’s a few statistics. When it comes to young adults on the spectrum, “just over half [of them]…had ever worked for pay outside the home…” (Source). Furthermore, that same source not only states that “only about one in five…[of them] worked full time…” but also that “[their] average pay was $8.10 [per hour].” Yes, people－eight dollars and ten cents, just a shade above our federal minimum wage. Let’s put that in perspective: In Mississippi, “the poorest state in the US” (Source), the living wage is “$9.80 [per hour]” (Source). So not only is it difficult to find work when someone’s on the spectrum, but even if that person found a job, it likely wouldn’t even pay enough to make ends meet in Mississippi! Autism or not, if you’re reading this, then you ought to be concerned.
As you can see, people with autism spectrum disorder have far greater difficulty when it comes to employment. These difficulties have largely been ignored to the detriment of society at large. That’s why it’s important to share this article. People on the spectrum need your help. Remember, when it comes to autism, everyone is affected.