Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Counselor for Job Seekers with Autism

In response to a previous post, Help for Job Seeker with Autism, Jan Johnston-Tyler sent this email.
I'm a counselor in private practice working with neurodiverse teens and adults, including those on the autistic spectrum.

There is a huge variance in presentation of those with autism, ranging from mild impairment (requiring basic guidance and some scaffolding skills) to major impairment (requiring supported employment).

Because there aren't any simple answers, you first have to determine the level of disability/level of functionality. Once you've established this (white collar worker? skilled laborer? unskilled laborer?), the next thing to establish is what his/her career desires are -- does she want to work with animals? Study to be a graphic artist? Don't 'dumb down' this part of the process -- most folks on the spectrum are highly intelligent, and resist and resent being talked down to.

Once you have an idea of function and possible career paths, the trick is to create a plan toward an end career -- it may take several steps (certificate of achievement --> AA --> BA), with each completed step being an 'exit' if need be.

One thing to be careful of -- many vocational rehabbers make the huge mistake of putting high functioning autistics in customer service roles, which is a huge mistake. Many people with autism/ASD have difficulty under stress, and can 'go off' on customers, resulting in being fired. These individuals need to be working in calmer environments, frequently either in small groups or alone are good choices.

If you have any questions, let me know via email. Also, please check out my website, EvoLibri.

Take care,
Jan Johnston-Tyler
Neurodiversity Counselor

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