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Issues Autistic Adults Have With Employment

Over 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. Only a small percentage of us work full-time or part-time. Why is that? There are several reasons why we struggle with jobs. The lack of education on autism makes it difficult in life. We see the world in black and white. It's like people are speaking a language you don't know. The way others teach is not how we learn, and it's very difficult to thrive in a world you don't understand. Most of us struggle with adulting. I know I do. My mom child shames me for it all the time. She should not shame me and guilt me over traits I have tied to a disorder that I never wanted in the first place. Instead of listening to me and trying to understand my perspective, she brushes it off as 'excuses.' Everyone pulls the excuse card because they don't want to understand.

It's not that we cannot do the job. I know a non-aspie will say 'well if anyone can't do the job, of course, they will be fired.' In fact, we are more than qualified for the job. Our differences aren't accepted. The workforce is running on neurotypical standards and we are not like the NTs.

There are several reasons why job hunting is a challenge. There is no set reason why we struggle with job searches, landing a job and keeping it. I am just pointing out the most common reasons. If you want, you can comment on your struggles with employment that I did not talk about on this blog. 

The Application

If you are looking for a job, you have to apply. You cannot walk in and ask for a job like the movies. Application screening is the first struggle for autistic adults. Most applications have a questionnaire where it gives you a scenario and you have to pick the best answer. A person may misunderstand as to how the assessment will determine if they're right for the job. Eg avoids picking X too often. The applicant may not know how to answer the questions or know what the question is asking. They will not even consider you if you do not pass the questionnaire. I applied to Walmart last year, their application has the questionnaire. It even said I had to pass to be considered for the job. I did not know how to answer most of the questions, I did not pass the assessment, therefore, they did not want me. If that's the case, I can't get hired at places that do assessments on their applications. More than likely most stores do these tests. Remember, neurotypicals don't have the issues that we have. I watched a video on YouTube called "employable me" where it featured someone on the autism spectrum who struggled on an assessment they need to take to be considered for the job, they did not pass because of a question they could not understand. It feels like most jobs are made for the neurotypicals and not us.

One thing that was a huge issue for me is all applications ask for your work history. The person may not know what to put down if they have never had a job. I just didn't know what to put on the work history. The only thing I had done was when I was in high school, I was in the music program and everyone in the music department ( band, Choir etc) was required to help out at a Jazz band fest. This was from 2011/2012. This could be too far back as most places probably look for more recent stuff. If this was from 2015/2016 maybe I would have had a chance. Most applications require you to have references, however, the applicant may not have any friends to put down. I applied to Culver's and didn't get a call because I have no references and fast-food places hire anyone. The person may not have anyone reliable that they can put as a reference. The job will call whoever you put down so the applicant can't just put down anyone or make someone up and add a random number. You have to tell them you're adding them for a reference. If they're busy, they may not be free if the job calls them.

Resume Screening 

I follow some autism pages and one page posted a graphic about discrimination against us in the workplace. The graphics mention how gaps in employment or if the person had several jobs that were only held for a short time can cast bad judgment on us. Gaps in employment probably refer to the person's struggle with finding a job maybe after quitting a job that didn't work out. The several jobs refer to how we struggle to hold down a job and is fired after X amount of time. Most likely if the interviewer/manager sees the person had 10 jobs but only had them for a month or less, this makes the interviewer think the person wasn't fit for the jobs. That person is qualified to the tee for the job. They were fired because their differences weren't accepted or for other reasons. For instance, my mom refuses to accept that I need a time frame and direct instructions to better understand when I need to be ready or how something needs to be done. If you just say 'get up early,' that tells me nothing. How early? 7am? 8am? 9am? 

The Job's environment 

I've mentioned that the setting of the job can play a big role in our ability to perform the job. ASD people have sensory issues. These can vary. Some are sensitive to light, cold, hot, unwanted physical contact, etc. If the jobs have a lot of people, it's possible these sensory issues will be a problem. Take Walmart, it's just too busy and fast-paced for me to work at. Too many people, too many things happening to be able to focus on the job. It would be impossible to focus on a job and there is a kid screaming around me. Not all of us can afford noise-canceling headphones. I feel some autism pages should have a giveaway for noise-canceling headphones or if the aspie has a YouTube channel/ blog, the page should give them the headphones for free in exchange for a review/mentioning the headphones. In my opinion, retails jobs or any job dealing with the public is not for us. This is just my 2 cents. Everyone is different.  Jobs that care about efficiency I feel is not for us. We do struggle on the job for not being fast enough for the employers. 

A greeter at Walmart could work for some of us, now the position is being cut at some Walmarts. If any aspies were greeters now they're out of a job. This position can help people with anxiety, too. 

Workplace Bullying

Due to our social differences, we are targets for bullying. In fact, we have issues with bullying in school. By kids and adults. I got bullied for being different and I just need an alternative method. I would get called names by the NTs for not understanding their language. When if you explained it in a different text, I would have had that light bulb over the head moment. Kids I had never seen before hated me all of a sudden. I wasn't given a change all because these kids listened to what people told them about me. We can be bullied to quitting the job. Employers can even harass us. Someone posted in a group that their boss made a snarky mark about their autism. They could not quit because they had no other way to pay their bills. Noone, I mean NO ONE should have to be treated badly so they can live. This is why I strongly suggest you create a savings account and put money away to have for back up. This is why I am all for self-employment for autistic adults. Self-employment for anyone really. No one should have to damage their mental health or health all together for a job that doesn't give a rats hat about them. If you were to drop dead right now, they'd replace you in a week max. 

Lack Of Communication 

When it comes to autistics, you have to add more context when giving them commands or explaining something. For instance 'Joe needs the tape' will not cut it. I saw another graphic on Facebook that explains if you just leave one-liners with no context it may seem like a passive statement more than a request. For instance, my mom mentioned helping my uncle in the flea market. She did not provide context, so I just saw it as a train or thought. If I didn't have anxiety with crowds, helping my uncle at the flea market would be something I could do. She was actually suggesting it and I thought it was just a random thought. If you do not provide context like 'please take out the garbage in a minute' we will not think it's important. Everyone is different, remember that. This can be extremely problematic if the boss were to give us a task but not provide those extra details. Say the boss says 'Joe needs help in the so and so department,' if the boss does not say now, at 3 o'clock, etc the employee will not think Joe needs help right away and the boss gets mad that the employee did not help Joe when the boss asked. This happens with my mom and me all the time. Like as I update this blog, my mom did not give me a set time she wanted to leave and yelled at me for 10 minutes for not being ready in time. I felt dead inside and wanted to hurt myself again. This would have been the 3rd time I self-harmed or contemplated self-harm for getting yelled at. Is it really a wise idea to put someone prone to hurting themselves or think about hurting themselves when they get yelled at putting them on a job where it's highly possible is a good idea? This is the icing on the cake as to why I cannot handle the stress and hassle of a job. If we are not fast enough they yell at us which just adds fuel to the fire.

Workplace Discrimination 

Closed-minded employers can also make the persons stay at the job short, or stop them in their tracks. The aspie tells their employer about their autism to request the accommodations that they need to function. In most cases, the aspie is fired upon revealing their autism. It does sound like a personal attack because the worker has autism. In other cases, the person is harassed and they quit as a result. I was on Reddit and a person posted that they were fired for being autistic. I feel it's more of their autism habits being read the wrong way, being found annoying by other workers and the boss fires the employee due to too many complaints/reports. When someone says they were fired for being X, they are probably saying the traits tied to their disorder was seen the wrong way.

Not only autistic people have this problem. People with certain disorders I saw an article where a Chrone's patient who worked for Amazon got fired because of his illness. Due to his frequent restroom trips. This is just to show when people say they lost their job due to their disorder, they were punished for traits caused by the disorder that they can not control.

Not Working Fast Enough

 The employee not being fast enough for the employer can also make keeping the job hard. Which is why we need jobs where ASD people can go at their own pace without being bashed for 'moving too slow.' Most jobs care more about efficiency than quality. Which is a messed up system. Customers can also complain about you not moving fast enough. That rules out fast-food for us (or me at least) since you need to be quick. Hence what it's called FAST food. Some of us can handle fast-food, some can't. I feel jobs that care about efficiency are not for some of us. I feel jobs that care about quality are for us. me personally, I rather someone take 2 hours to clean my room and it's neat than for them to rush and do it in 20 minutes and it's just as messy as when the person started. Not everyone thinks like that.

Can't Get Passed The Interview

Why do we struggle with interviews? Well, there are several reasons why. The person can take the questions too literally. The question 'tell me about yourself' could be the reason why we struggle with the interview. This question most likely is, to sum up, your previous employment or how you feel you fit the job. The person will think the tell me about yourself question is, to sum up, some facts about them like where they're from. When a friend wants you to tell them about yourself, they want to know some interesting things about you. We take things literally, therefore, we may answer the questions too literally. I talk about this in a video on YouTube. It takes us a bit to process and understand your question. If the interviewer sees the person taking too long to answer the questions, this can count against them. Sometimes anxiety gets to the person and it causes them to mess up the interview. Sometimes an unexpected question can pop up and the person does not know how to answer it. The interviewer will not know the interviewee has autism, therefore the interviewee's behavior will likely be read as they are not interested in the job. I know this is rich coming from someone who has never had a job due to autism, you have to think about how your behavior can be read. We lack the skills to know how someone may read our body language, voice tone, etc. Of course, if the person is not aware of how their body language, voice tone, etc is being read, this can complicate things.

Can't Keep The Job

Why is it that we can't hold down a job?  It's NOT because we can't do the job, it's because our differences are not accepted. It's because of the employers' or co-workers' attitude towards us. The boss's method of learning the job is too difficult for you to understand. You need to see someone do the action to better understand the job, depending on the job. However, there may not always be an option to have someone demonstrate the job for you to understand. You may need more clarity on the tasks you are given. We need a timeframe when giving a request, otherwise, we will think it's not important. The boss does not do this when he/she gives you your assignment(s). The person does not do the job the way the boss wanted to and the boss gets mad. You're reprimanded for taking too long to understand the job, it's not your fault you need a different method or take longer on some things than everyone else. Or you're yelled at for not doing the job the way the boss wanted you to do it due to missing details as to how the job needed to be done.

Results Of My Survey

I surveyed some autistic adults to get a better idea of their employment struggles. Let's see what we got here.
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I asked if the people have ever had a job. More have worked a job than those who haven't. This still doesn't mean the ones who work struggle.

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I asked who was currently working. This was when I counted the results. As of now, it's a tie. 50% of my survey takers are unemployed.

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I asked what jobs did every have who works. 2 of them are self-employed. I feel self-employment is better for us. While these fit the survey takers. Someone else can/could struggle on these jobs.

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For those who are unemployed, I asked what their struggle is. of course, the interview is one of the struggles. 

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I asked people how long they were at their jobs before quitting or being fired. 

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I asked how long the person was at the job before being fired or quitting. 

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I asked if people struggled with the interview. 
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I asked people what was their struggles in the interview.

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I asked people how they were treated in the workplace. 

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I asked people why do they did ASD people struggle with employment.

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I asked what jobs are ideal for autistic people.

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I asked those who cannot hold a job why. Autism burnout can be a reason.

My Proposal

If you are an independent game developer, app developer, programmer, etc. Hire us, hire autistic adults to be on your team. Even if you start them off with testing your app or game and giving you feedback. I feel that is a reasonable job to start them with. For example, I can write an article about your game to get people hyped or review it. Say you have an interview, I can write a written version of the interview in a blog. I just need a script from the interview. I am asking you to help us. Some of us struggle to find or hold down jobs. Think about how happy we will be that you decided to make it work for us when no one else did. Think about it, solo/small game devs don't have the tools that larger companies have, especially when it comes to promotion. Simply hiring someone to write articles promoting your game can really help you.

I Wrote A Book On Autism And Employment

I wrote this book to showcase our struggles with employment. I feel this is a very important topic to cover. I told my 'friend' that I couldn't work due to a disability, after a misunderstanding argument that happened the night before. My friend judges and shames me acting like she knew everything about my case. She judges me on her standards just because there are people with disabilities who work. It doesn't always mean their skills are poor. It could mean that they can't find a job that fits their skills. It's about time more autism education is spread. Why not start with a book on the one thing we struggle with. Maybe if people saw behind closed doors on what we struggle with, they wouldn't be so judgy.

Why You Should Buy This Book?
This book provides insights on the challenges adults with autism face with finding or getting a job. Such as how filling out an application is a problem, or getting past the interview. This book provides education on what happens behind the screen. People judge situations that are not in. Aren't you tired of people telling you to 'get a job?' Little do they know that getting, or keeping a job is nearly impossible for us Aspies. The more jobs you keep getting fired from, the harder it will be to find another. The book is 2.99 if you use the code 'wired differently' you will get 1 dollar off. As of now, May 4th, the book is ready for preorder and will be out May 31st. You can get it here.
Or you can get it via Amazon Kindle.  This is a preorder as of May 4th and it will be sent to you when the book is out. If you are reading this after May 31st, then the book is already out. 

The book covers the major issues that complicate employment, the application, the interview, and not being able to hold the job. I explain the things that complicate these 3 things. 

How This Benefits You.
  • Maybe you have to do a report on a disorder. Everyone writes about autism. Why not stand out and write about how the disorder makes it hard for us on a job. How we can't be independent because we can't hold down a job. We need to talk about more than just how people autism struggle in school. I mean at least they have a support system but what about when it comes to getting a job? You need to know how they will struggle greatly. 
  • Maybe you're a parent and your son/daughter has autism and you wanna know how it will complicate things for them when they become an adult. It will complicate their ability to find/keep a job. Perhaps this book will give you insights on what job you want your Aspie to have.
  • Maybe you're trying to get SSI and keep getting denied. The things I mention in the book could be your problems with keeping a job. If the lawyers see your issues in a source, perhaps they can defend your case. Eg my client cannot survive if they can only keep a job for a month or less, they've told the longest they can keep a job is 2 weeks. And those reasons are what I mentioned in the book. Remember the person who reviews the case is not autistic. 
  • You can educate people on how hard it is for us in the world. 

It's time things changed. 80% of autistic adults were unemployed and only 30% being employed is unacceptable. There is no excuse for employers not creating a job we can do. If for a movie, if a director can create a role they feel the actor can play better, then employers can create a job we can perform better. They just choose not to. We are talking about arrogant employers.


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