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Finding successful employment is one of the biggest challenges facing those on the autism spectrum. In British Columbia alone, it’s estimated that 40,000 adults are on the spectrum and are either unemployed or employed in jobs that don’t make use of their qualifications, skills and experience. For potential employers, this should represent a vast reservoir of untapped talent that just needs the right hiring process and on the job support and training to succeed.

the Take big picture

For those individuals with ASD looking for successful employment, it’s important to think about the big picture first. Finding a job field that you have a personal interest in is going to be the key to keeping your interest level high and giving you the motivation to succeed. When you’re starting to think about jobs that you would like to have, start by listing the things that you are interested in, and those that you already have some skills and talents in. You can then talk through with someone about the kinds of jobs that would make use of these interests and skills and the kinds of places that you might work.

Essential skills

Regardless of the field of work you’re aiming to go into, you’re going to need some essential skills to be successful in any workplace. Three of the most important skills are:

  • Communication – even in a job that sounds like it might not involve talking to a lot of other people, like a commuter programmer or truck driver, you’ll still be working as part of a team, with someone in charge of you and people who will need information from you to be able to do their jobs. Being a good communicator at work is all about being able to listen to instructions and ask for help as you need it. Your employer will know that you are on the spectrum and will be willing and able to help you understand and complete your job to the best of your ability. Get a head start: Practice your communication skills by repeating back instructions and information that you hear in your own words, and show you’re listening by watching the talker’s face and body language as they speak.
  • Consistency – in most jobs, you’ll be asked to do the same set of things each day in the same way within the same amount of time. Think about working in as a supermarket cashier: you’ll be expected to set you till up, check each person out in a timely fashion and close your till at the end of your shift. Being able to do these things consistently will help you keep your job as well as letting your employer know that you’re capable of doing the job and may even be ready for more responsibility. Get a head start: Practice your consistency by timing how long it takes you to perform certain household tasks and then seeing if you can keep to that time limit (or do it faster) each time round that you have to do that chore.
  • Hard work – if going to work and getting paid was easy, the world would be a much simpler place! However, most jobs require a lot of hard work: sometimes this is hard work for your body, like working in a warehouse moving crates around, and sometimes this hard work for your mind, like sorting and creating files in an office. The hardest part of any job is when the unexpected happens and your routines are knocked out of whack. This will require you to put in extra hard work to be flexible and to get your job done even among the chaos. Get a head start: start planning for the hard work of being employed by setting a daily routine for yourself where you’re on the go for most of the day. Your body and brain will get used to it over time, and you’ll find that you have to overcome some obstacles on the way.
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The biggest tip for successful employment for those on the autism spectrum is to talk to people like Focus who have lots of experience helping people with ASD employment. They can give you further advice about how to get a head start for any job, as well as helping you find the right kind of workplace where you’ll be able to make use of skills and interests.

Shabbir Ahmad

Shabbir Ahmad is a freelance enthusiastic blogger & SEO expert. He is the founder of Shifted Magazine & Shifted News. He contributes to many authority blogs including porch, hackernoon & techcrunch.