By Molly Daly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – According to a new study, one in three young adults with autism has no paying job or college or technical schooling. A local expert says the research shows the need for programs to address the challenges faced by young people on the autism spectrum.
“The autism population is certainly getting older and there aren’t enough services in place for adolescents and adults, and it’s going to be a huge issue, not just for employment, but for other things like treatment and housing.”
The Center for Autism’s Dr. Margot Burke says programs shouldn’t just focus on one phase of development.
“There is more focus now, I think on some of the younger children, but there definitely needs to be services looking at our adult population.”
Burke says people on the autism spectrum face a particular challenge.
“Having a deficit in socialization, which is a huge component of keeping and maintaining a job, being able to read social cues in order to deal with the public, or even to be able to get along with your coworkers.”
Burke says training in interpersonal skills is key, since they generally don’t come easily to people with autism. And she says a technique called job coaching can offer trainees much-needed support until they settle in at work.
“With job coaching, I’ve seen lots of adolescents and adults be very successful in a particular job.”
Burke says training kids with those skills can make them more marketable to employers — and that the study points out the need for such programs through young adulthood.
“I think it speaks to what we need to change, which is have the right training for kids when they’re in school, making sure they’re getting that in school, but then also insuring that there is the possibility for them to have employment.”