Bridging The Gap
While educational systems in Canada have done a remarkable job in providing secondary and post-secondary educational programs for students with ASD and other cognitive differences, they have not established systems to bridge the gap between education and employment. As a result, young people with ASD who are willing and able to work and have many excellent qualifications to establish rewarding careers have higher unemployment rates than those with similar challenges or barriers to employment. Focus Ability has created a solution to these challenges. We provide a comprehensive six to eight week training program that includes an assessment focusing on skills, abilities, and interests and a training course focusing on job readiness, employment skills, and career focus.
Businesses and organizations in North America and Europe have begun to recognize the benefits inherent in employing people with ASD. These benefits have emerged first in the area of information technology, but many other careers and fields of employment can also benefit from employees with ASD. In addition, while educational systems in Canada have done a remarkable job in "mainstreaming" students with ASD or other related cognitive differences, they have not put any systems in place to help bridge the gap between education and employment. As a result, although able to work, willing to work, and possessing many excellent qualifications for rewarding full-time careers, young people with ASD have higher rates of unemployment than nearly every other category of young adult with challenges or barriers to employment.
Focus Ability has created a solution to these challenges that will benefit individuals with ASD, their families, the businesses who will gain reliable, caring, and gifted employees, and society as a whole. The overall opportunity is almost incalculable, as an estimated 500,000 young people with ASD are anticipated to graduate from high school in North America over the next ten years. In British Columbia, there are already an estimated 26,600 young adults with ASD, and another 12,000 young people with ASD between the ages of 10 and 18 who will graduate in the next ten years. Each of these young adults is a potential excellent employee who may be able to pursue a full-time, rewarding career.
A May, 2011 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that young people with ASD who were of normal or above-normal intelligence were less-likely than those with ASD and some cognitive disabilities to be employed part- or full-time, or be involved in a sheltered workshop or day activity center (Taylor and Seltzer, 2011). Only about 18 percent of those studied were employed, 14 percent were in college, and 12 percent did nothing at all during the day.
Paul Shattuck, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University reported to Forbes magazine that “Many families with children with autism describe turning 18 as falling off a cliff because of the lack of services for adults with ASDs.” Employers and the general public are often unaware of the benefits that an employee with ASD can bring to an organization. According to Mark Hutten, M.A., Counseling Psychologist and Online Parent Coach, children, teens and adults with ASD have many positive traits that contribute to positive employment outcomes, and which can be extremely valuable to employers. Among them are conscientiousness, reliability, honesty, a deep focus on detail and a lack of interest in gossip or on-the-job conflict. Hutten also reported that people with ASD often have exceptional memories, highly-developed talents, and an excellent work ethic.