Yesterday while I was at work I took a coffee break. As I walked back to the kitchen and got an afternoon pick-me-up I started to notice all the diversity in my office. There were a group of young teens hanging out together in the clubhouse playing with their I pods and phones. Two boys, one white and one black, and three girls, all black.
At the table in the leasing office my boss, who is a white lady, was discussing the terms of breaking a rental contract with a black gentleman who leases some property with us. One of our consultants, a young Hispanic, was one the phone talking to a resident who needed some maintenance work done. Our other consultant, who is Asian, was discussing rental terms with a couple of prospects who were both from the Middle East. Wow. I thought about our other staff members who do maintenance. There are respectfully made of up one white guy who is also part Hispanic, another white guy who is also part Native American, three Hispanic men and a Hispanic lady. Just for the record, I am white and Native American. Talk about a group of many colors!
But, you know who I didn't see?
It is not that I have never noticed how diversified a group I am around for a large part of my day. I work in a major metropolitan area and diversity is just a part of life. However, most days it is just what it is. Yesterday, however, I just seemed to think...no autistic people around. No autistic people working here. No autistic people out looking for a place to live; at least not that I could tell. I started thinking about the places I go and trying to recall if I have ever noticed an autistic person working. I could only think of one; the gentleman that stocks shelves and runs a cash register at the local Dollar General store.
Now, I have never asked him if he's autistic. But as you all know, the longer you are around your own child, learn more about autism, and spend more time around other known autistic people; you start to be able to spot them pretty easily. There may be a lot of them out there working that are not easy to notice because their characteristics are mild or maybe they have been able to learn how to "blend" into society. It really does make me wonder though how many adults in the work force are autistic.
There are, of course, some very famous people that work and are autistic. A few that come to mind quickly are Temple Grandin, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hannah...Albert Einstein, although resting in peace, worked. Anyway, there are not that many. I once Googled the results and there may have been about 50 on the list that are still living, and about that many that have passed away. Okay, roughly about one hundred famous autistic people. I think it would pretty safe to assume that Sir Dantes will not be on one of these list. Does the Census Bureau keep statistics on how many people in the work force are autistic?
According to Times Magazine not one single agency kept numbers on autistic adults until 2009, and it was a study done in England.
"On Sept. 22, England's National Health Service (NHS) released the first study of autism in the general adult population"
The article that features the findings of the study was published on October 3, 2009, and also finds that about 0.02% of autistic adults finished college or held a job.
Now, I am not positive that this is the first study or findings because I found another site posting findings from 2008. The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in Florida conducted a state-side study that year. Their findings are not any more encouraging than the previous:
"The potential of young adults and adults (14 years of age and older) with autism to become employed and engaged citizens of the U.S. is not so much limited by their disability itself but, rather, by the failures of the system charged with supporting them. According to a state-wide study conducted in Florida in 2008 by The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), approximately 67% of the 200 families of 18-22 year olds with autism surveyed did not have knowledge of transition services; 73% indicated they needed help with their job; 63% need help with daily living; 78% do not know of agencies or professionals who can help them find work; and while74% want to work, only 19% were currently working."
Advancing Futures For Adults with Autism
So, what does this all mean for us? Resources! We need resources and training for our children. With approximately one in every ninety-four children being diagnosed with autism in a few years this is going to be a huge epidemic brought down upon our society. Seventy-four percent want to work! Only about nineteen percent are working! Now, these numbers probably vary from state to state, and if I had more time in my schedule, I would plunge myself into a full fledged research paper and have it published. If anyone would listen...
In August 2009, Scott Standifer, Ph.D. published a paper titled "Adult Autism and Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals". In it he outlines how to help our young adults find employment. Yea! Why did it take so long? However, the article is certainly worth reading. Here is the link:
I recommend printing it off and taking it to your local school systems, local government, whoever you think would use it.
I have been warned by many to not to project my fears for Sir Dantes' ability to take care of himself as an adult. After all, he is just a few months shy of five years old. There may be a world of new research that will help him in the near future. There may be a change in the government budgets to help in the near future. He may grow up and be another Temple Grandin or Albert Einstein. Who knows? He may grow up and be one of the lucky ones that is able to find gainful employment, marry, and have children of his own. But, he may need assistance his entire life.
My wish for all of us in this new year is that more studies will happen and more resources will become available for us all. But, we have to make this wish happen. If we stay silent, no one will hear us. If we keep pushing for change, hopefully change will happen. So, please use your voice and keep talking and sharing. Every chance you get. Thanks again for reading and have a good night.
Anyway, last I remember hearing, unemployment among autistic adults was hovering around 95% or something crazy like that. Wow. These are people who can be counted on to be there on time, dedicated, honest, and overall love repetitive work that most of us hate. A lot of autistic people would make good employees.
I also went to the Wiki page for Aykroyd. I followed the reference and listened to the first 3/4 of the NPR interview. From Wiki, "Aykroyd described himself (in a radio interview with Terry Gross) as having mild Tourette syndrome that was successfully treated with therapy when he was a preteen, as well as mild Asperger syndrome." In the interview, and I quote, Aykroyd says, "...Uh, well, it was more of a Tourettes thing... I was analyzed as a Tourettes and Aspergers, uh, which I still have a little bit of today." He goes on to say that he has "a touch" of Aspergers. That's not enough to convince me he was ever truly on the spectrum.
Einstein; "Sometimes considered autistic" is not enough for me either. That could come from anywhere. In my opinion it's far from a diagnosis.
I don't mean to be argumentative. I'm just putting the facts out there and then voicing my opinion. However, I respect your opinion too!
Leave a comment
|« Reliving the Toddler Years||Happy Holidays »|