College and Jobs for People with Autism

College and Jobs for People with Autism

The stigma surrounding autism suggests that individuals with autism are dumb or incapable of learning and work, but this picture is not very accurate.

According to a study published March 2012 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, people with autism are more able to sort through information and comprehend it better than people without autism. Many parents and therapists of people with autism often document that these individuals, while they might lack in certain subject areas, find it easy to focus on certain things, and this enhanced ability is often centered on subjects like computers and technology.

In the study, 16 adults with autism and 16 adults without autism participated in information processing tests. The results show that the adults with autism often performed better when the tests became more difficult, which shows they can function well in challenging conditions, and they can often perceive more information than the “typical” adult.

What implications do such studies have for adults with autism or those individuals transitioning to adulthood? While many parents focus on the here-and-now aspect with their children with autism, there is often not as much attention on what happens when public school and therapy support ends. Since individuals with autism often display enhanced abilities in certain areas, the prospect of them attending college or holding a job should be great.

The College Autism Spectrum has identified 15 universities and colleges in the United States who provide programs to help incoming students on the spectrum. Co-founders Dr. Jane Thierfield Brown and Lisa King have also conducted training seminars at more than 50 colleges to help educate the faculty about how they can help individuals with autism.

Again, the social stigma seems to be that people with autism cannot have independent lives or hold jobs. However, a new bill by Republican Senator Carla Nelson would produce support for individuals with high-functioning autism; this bill would allocate $60,000 to provide employment support to individuals in Olmstead County in Minnesota.

Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism are often intelligent but have difficulty interacting socially and professionally in an appropriate manner. This characteristic of autism often makes it more difficult for them to obtain work.

All these individuals really need is a bit of support and help to push them along. Many of these people can go to school and become successfully employed.

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