Another type of employment for adults with autism is sheltered work. This type of work has historically occurred in sheltered workshops in which groups of people with disabilities are paid to make products for use or sale by a company that has a contract with the agency that runs the workshop. The workers with disabilities are usually paid based on the amount of products they produce. Traditionally, sheltered workshops have been considered not only a place of employment for adults with disabilities but also a means of training them in work skills to obtain more typical jobs in the local community. However, it has been well established that working in a sheltered workshop often does little to effectively prepare people for community jobs and at least historically, people who attend sheltered workshops have rarely left the workshops and entered the regular work force (Cimera, 2011).
Sheltered work is generally considered much less meaningful for adults with autism than real jobs for real pay or supported work. The consensus is based on a number of factors. In particular, sheltered workshops are segregated from the regular workforce such that there is essentially no community integration or inclusion for the participating workers with disabilities. Additionally, workers in sheltered workshops frequently earn less of an income relative to the former types of employment (Cimera, 2011). For many sheltered workshops, there are also inconsistent work opportunities due to contracts being of a shortterm nature or otherwise unavailable. When work contracts are lacking, individuals are often observed to have little if any constructive activity in which to engage (Reid, 2015b).
Having a real job promotes the dignity of adults with autism that comes with working for a living and contributing to society as part of the country’s workforce.