WORKING IN A SUPPORTED JOB
Because of the challenges that autism often presents for adults, it can be extremely difficult or essentially impossible for some to work fully independently in a typical job. However, many can succeed in real jobs with specialized support. The support may be in the form of persons paid specifically to help workers with autism function in the work place or through more natural supports provided, e.g., by typical co-workers.
Individual Job Placement
One common type of supported work involves individual job placements in which an adult with autism works alongside the regular workers in the work site but with the support of a job coach or an employment specialist. The latter individual may support the worker with autism full- or part-time on a permanent basis. However, the goal is usually to fade the individual’s support as the worker becomes more independent in the work place.
Working in a supported job on an individual placement basis entails essentially the same benefits for adults with autism as working independently in a real job. Supported jobs result in a real income, are integrated within typical work environments, and allow for the dignity associated with working for a living. However, a disadvantage with this type of employment is the degree of integration within the typical work force can be limited to varying extents. The reduced integration occurs because a worker with autism may spend a significant amount of time interacting with a job coach or other specialist who is paid to support the worker. Such interactions reduce the amount of interactions with other co-workers and job supervisors that represent more typical interactions during work. It is therefore important for the job coach to support the individual with autism to engage the job tasks and co-workers directly, rather than fostering dependence on the coach.