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June 2024



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First Published Saturday, 21st June, 2008.



According to information on the ‘Planning for Life’ report, only 6% of adults on the autism spectrum are in full-time paid employment. Only 20% of adults on the autism spectrum are in any employment. Autistic adults say that finding a suitable job would improve their lives more than anything else.

In the following article, we take a look at the wonderful work those over at Prospects are doing to support and assist those on the spectrum employment-wise, as well as their employers and work colleagues here in the UK. We also hear personal stories/case studies from both men and women on the spectrum. There will be more upcoming contributions from the US shortly, and we’ll also take a look at “Self Employment” but meanwhile, in “Job Interview Jitters”, Nick Dubin supplies us with some invaluable job interview tips. From time to time, I hope to update this particular article and warmly welcome any contributions.

Prospects Employment Consultancy

Many people on the autism spectrum are keen and able to work. The work carried out by the NAS employment consultancy Prospects over the past decade demonstrates that paid employment is a very real option for people with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger Syndrome. Here we highlight some of the successes achieved by our clients and the Prospects service, lessons we have learnt along the way, and our hopes for the future.

How did it all start?

Prospects began in 1994 as a small pilot scheme working with 30 people registered with an ASD in London. During the first 2 years 19 of the 30 people registered with the service secured jobs. In contrast only five of 30 people in a comparable group with no specialist help in other UK cities were placed in work.

For many in the Prospects group this was their first job after many years of unemployment. For others it was their first job that enabled them to use their skills with an employer who understood why they were different to other colleagues. The pilot project clearly showed that specialist help in finding and maintaining jobs could lead to success in the job market even for the long-term unemployed.

Building on the successful work carried out in the London pilot, we set up a further three services – in Glasgow (1999), Sheffield (2000) and Manchester (2001). Today our team of 16 staff helps 300 people a year to prepare for, secure and retain paid employment. Lack of funds has unfortunately meant that the service has not become more widespread.

What works?

Prospects employs a team of dedicated co-ordinators, employment consultants and employment support workers who understand autistic spectrum disorders and who are committed to helping clients make real progress in the world of work. They provide work preparation training, secure work experience placements, help the client to get a job and then support the individual and the employer in the workplace. The relationship they build with each of their clients is at the heart of finding the right jobs. Giving the employer the knowledge to understand autism and Asperger Syndrome is also a vital element in helping the individual succeed at work.

Prospects co-ordinators and employment consultants enjoy their roles: “I like giving people the tools to realise their potential and move forward in life and work,” says Jim Doherty – Employment Consultant, Prospects Glasgow.

“Listening to a client talk about a friend they have made at work says it all,” says Suzanne Lees – Employment Consultant, Prospects Sheffield.

A client’s journey through Prospects

Some clients have help with finding more than one job. For example, we help people to access temporary or fixed term contracts which provide excellent experience and give the person the chance to get some paid work on their CV. After this they return to get help with job finding and often at this stage go on to secure a permanent position. Like many working people our clients sometimes decide they want to move on from a job after a few years. We help them to find a new job and progress their careers.

Whether the job is temporary or permanent our consultants provide support for the client and the employer once the job starts. This involves helping the person to understand what is required of them, to learn the job and to establish good working relationships with their manager and colleagues. Most of our clients are keen to become as independent as possible and see the regular support provided by the consultant as assisting them to maintain their independence at work. Support is tailored to the needs and wishes of the client and employer with a gradual reduction of involvement over time.

Most people need more support at the beginning of a job:

“As I began my training at the job, I felt overwhelmed because of the amount of information I had to try and take in. Early on in the job (day two), I telephoned Judith and told her I was not coping. But I had not understood the fact that EVERYONE takes time, maybe months, to learn a new job. Thankfully, I did not give up and I am now enjoying my job very much.”

Ben – administration, Criminal Appeals Department, High Court, London.

But almost all clients feel that some level of ongoing support helps them in their jobs:

“When I started doing tele-sales I had to learn new skills like how to use a different computer system, how to check for ticket availability and book seats. I feel it is important for me to have a regular meeting with my employment consultant in case anything goes wrong and I feel something is too complicated for me to understand.” David – customer services assistant, GNER

What are the benefits of working in the right job?

Many of our clients have found that they:

  • *are more financially independent

  • *grow in confidence and self esteem

  • *are able to use their strengths and skills productively

  • *meet more people and in some cases gain a better social life

  • *relationships with other people improve through learning how to get on with people at work.

What have we learnt?

One of the most important lessons we have learnt is to keep an open mind. At first we assumed that there was only a narrow range of jobs that people with an autistic spectrum could or should apply for – even to the point of listing ‘suitable’ and ‘unsuitable’ jobs.

The good news is that this assumption has been proved wrong, as clients now hold down a wide range of jobs, including some with a customer service and supervisory focus. For example, David works very successfully as a customer services assistant for GNER

He says:

“I like my job as it is to do with trains and it’s a customer service job. I would hate to be working as an engineer or a builder or something like that. Also my job gives me the opportunity to mix with people.

Occasionally I may chat to a customer i.e. If they live in an area where I know or even a tourist and I can help them have a most enjoyable stay in the UK.”

At Prospects we now believe that it is the unique skills and abilities of the individual which determine the suitability of a job and that no role should be ruled out just because the person has a diagnosis of autism or Asperger Syndrome. If you are on the autism spectrum, it is important to ask yourself, “Do I have the skills, qualifications or experience to do this job?” Equally, a good employer will consider whether the job applicant has the skills needed for the job and not be distracted by the person’s disability.

Having a learning difference or a diagnosis of autism and not Asperger Syndrome does not automatically make an individual less employable. Our clients have a wide range of abilities and making a judgement based on the level of IQ does not determine the person’s ability to do a job. Many of our clients are considered to have a learning disability and this has not hindered their success in work. Their motivation and hard work are far more important to holding down a job. A manager at Goldman Sachs listed just some of the benefits of employing someone on the autism spectrum:

  • *A dependable and hard-working individual is brought into the team, making a worthwhile contribution to the workplace

  • *Strong integrity and reliability that we look for in everyone

  • *High level technical ability and attention to detail

  • *Good memory for facts and figures.

81% of line managers felt that they had personally gained something from working with Prospects.

“It has given me a greater insight into autism.”

“I often apply many of the techniques taught to me by the Prospects employment consultant to the rest of my team.”

99% of senior managers were satisfied or very satisfied with Prospects’ service.

“If there is a problem, the employment consultant will come the same or next day.”

“I like the way the service is tailored to suit the individual.”

Prospects, Unit 8, The Ivories, 6/8 Northampton Street

London, N1 2HY Tel: 020 7704 7450

Prospects – the next 10 years

Our aim is to directly help at least 300 people a year across the four Prospects services and to continually develop good practice for the benefit of clients and employers.

Our vision is that in 10 years time all people on the autism spectrum who want to work will have access to a service which understands their abilities and needs and which can help them to achieve their employment goals. Here are details of some of our initiatives.

Prospects for young people – transition time

We want to ensure that young people on the autism spectrum have access to our four services as soon as they start looking for work. Whilst we work with anyone of working age (17 to 65 years) most of our current client group are in their mid to late 20s following a series of setbacks and negative experiences of work. Our aim is to dramatically increase the numbers of school and college leavers entering the service so that we can help them earlier in their lives.

In many cases it is possible to improve their chances of success and reduce the feeling of failure and lack of confidence that can come from repeated knockbacks and disappointments in the search for a job or when an employer is not aware of their diagnosis.

We are making good progress in reaching young people before they leave school through our Transitions programme that began in Scotland and which we aim to establish in other Prospects services in the coming years.

Project officer Ruth Langford writes here about the start of the Transitions programme in Scotland:

Prospects and the NAS Development team worked jointly on a bid to the Scottish Executive, securing over £200,000 to set up a new ‘Transitions into Adulthood’ project.

The aim is to support young people (12 – 17 years) who are on the autism spectrum through a major transition period in their life – leaving school.

The project has two core elements:

  1. 1. Term-time support (Prospects Project Officer – Ruth Langford) A programme of support will be offered to young people who wish to make the transition from school into further/higher education, employment or other community involvement. The project will help them to identify not only their skills and strengths, but also the adult services that are available to meet their future needs. Many of the young people leaving schools and colleges with a view to gaining employment will benefit from the specialist support that can be offered by Prospects at the NAS.

  1. 2. Social Groups (Project Officer – Lynsey Calderwood) The opportunity to attend a social group will be offered to young people to help them develop their social skills, confidence, and social awareness. At the same time they will be able to enjoy different activities and learn to support one another.

Who is the project for?

The project is for young people who are on the autism spectrum with a focus on those with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome. By the end of the three years we hope to support people from the following local authorities: East and West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City, North and South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire.

How long does it last?

Support will be built up gradually as the young people progress through their secondary school education. When they reach 15-16 years, a more intensive programme will be provided to prepare them for continuing their education, entering employment or leaving school.

The story from the start…

The project had a very positive start.

Thirty schools contacted us to express an interest in taking part, and the project officers have met with a wide range of professionals who are already involved in supporting young people on the autism spectrum, and who are supportive of the project and its aims. 32 pupils were referred by the second week of the school holidays.

How can young people be referred to the project?

Please express an Expression of Interest form by contacting Ruth Langford at the Glasgow NAS office:

Ruth Langford,

Transitions Project Officer,

Prospects Glasgow

NAS Scotland

Central Chambers

109 Hope Street


G2 6LL

Tel: 0141 221 8090

Email: ruthlangford@nas.org.uk

Case Studies

Jobsearch – Alex

Alex was referred to Prospects in April 2004. He was already working on a voluntary basis at two organisations (both of which he had arranged himself) and was doing a self-taught IT course. Despite his strong motivation, Alex lacked confidence in his own skills and abilities. He has no formal qualifications and felt this put him at a real disadvantage in achieving his goal of becoming an administration assistant.

Through the work preparation course at Prospects, Alex learnt how to present himself and his disability more positively. He learnt more about different types of roles he could apply for, and had support in completing application forms and understanding the conventions associated with them. As part of Alex’s course, a six-week placement as an administration assistant in the HR department at Guardian Newspapers Limited was arranged. The Head of HR was also impressed with Alex’s enthusiasm, and his ability to express his own strengths and needs.

Alex started the placement in June and within his first week he made a good impression with his department. He was given a range of tasks, which he completed well, with the help of clear guidelines from colleagues and Alex’s own written notes. Alex’s confidence grew significantly during his placement. He was achieving all his goals and receiving positive feedback. At the end of his fourth week, he was offered a contract as an HR admin assistant at The Guardian, proving what a great success his placement had been. Ade Adeniji, Head of HR, said of Alex:

“We have all been very impressed by the commitment shown by Alex. He became a part of the team very quickly. We are pleased that we are able to continue using his talent at the end of his placement.”

Through Prospects, Alex was given the opportunity to prove his skills to an employer. Alex has summed up his experience in his own words:

“I’m absolutely delighted with this development, as it was exactly what I was looking for: nice people to work with and interesting work. I feel very motivated.”

Katie Wood Employment Consultants

Prospects, London

Jobsearch – Melissa

Melissa was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1999 and was 22 when she first approached Prospects.

Despite her obvious intelligence, she had been unable to finish her college course and had dropped out, due more to the fact that she finds social situations more difficult than anything else. She is, however, a wizard with computers and it was something in this line of work that she was looking for.

She had several job-searching sessions with Prospects before the opportunity came up to apply for the BBC Extend scheme – a project to help people with disabilities to gain experience of working for the BBC.

Melissa applied, undertook some interview preparation sessions and a Prospects employment consultant provided support at the interview. She got the job and began just before Christmas. She worked on the Radio Four quiz for the BBC website, and her skills as a researcher and organiser were quickly recognised by both her line manager and department manager. Prospects provided ongoing support to Melissa and her colleagues, with regular meetings for feedback.

Melissa thoroughly enjoyed her first experience of real work but of course this was a placement and, as such, time limited. However, her managers recognised the valuable contribution (their words!) she was making, and managed to get the placement extended by six weeks – and then, during this six weeks, a vacancy arose in the Religion and Ethics department, a job with a six month contract.

Again, Melissa was supported at interview and was successful, transferring from one department to another without too much difficulty. She is still there and if you care to check out the BBC website, you will find examples of her work.

Incidentally, Melissa did let slip that just before she left her previous department, they had been nominated for a ‘BBC Teamwork Award’!

All credit to the BBC, her managers and colleagues who have supported Melissa and Prospects throughout, but especially to Melissa.

Norman Darwen

Employment Consultants

Prospects Sheffield

Jobsearch – Larry

Larry was referred to Prospects by his local Jobcentre in August 2001, undertaking a 13-week period of work preparation, including a 6-week placement with Glasgow City Council.

Larry continued to attend Prospects in order to target suitable administrative vacancies. Glasgow City Council also extended his placement for another six weeks in order to allow Larry to gain further experience. In addition to making applications, we attended interviews together and, following employer feedback, carried out further ‘mock interviews’ to fine-tune Larry’s interview technique.

In June 2001, Larry gained a casual administrative assistant post, within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), with responsibility for recording new applications for Disability Living Allowance. Larry was made a permanent member of staff later that year.

Larry’s support needs gradually reduced as he settled in well. It has been immensely satisfying to see Larry gain his preferred type of employment and maintain this over a long period of time, adapting successfully to changes occurring within the workplace and growing increasingly confident on a social level.

Larry is pleased:

“Prospects helped me gain the confidence to look for work. I really enjoy being part of the team here at DWP.”

Jim Doherty

Employment Consultant

Prospects Glasgow

Prospects for Providers

In order to help more people on the autism spectrum who want to work, Prospects has developed a training programme for other organisations.

Through the work of Prospects there is no doubt that specialised job finding and support is successful in helping clients to find and keep work – even when they previously had severe problems with employment. Both the employer and the employee have much to gain – companies benefit from capable, motivated workers and the individual gains independence and social status.

We hope at Prospects that an increasing number of people with a diagnosis will see paid work as a genuine option and that all autistic/AS people will soon have the same employment, training and career opportunities open to them as everyone.

Jill Lennon, Programme Coordinator, writes here about Prospects Provider Training…

Prospects success has led to a strong reputation in the areas where it operates.

The Provider Training Programme has been designed to enable other organisations to offer Prospects-style job finding and support programmes for people on the autism spectrum outside our current areas of operation in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield.

Its objective is to train professional providers of employment services for differently-abled people in order to increase the reach of the Prospects service and increase the numbers of people who can gain specialist help.

The package of materials and training are designed to equip those attending with the practical tools and knowledge required to work effectively with people on the autism spectrum who want to get a job.

For further information, please contact Jill Lennon, Co-ordinator of the Prospects Provider Training Programme, by telephoning 0141 248 1725 or 07795 685 358

Email: jlennon@nas.org.uk

Catherine Burkin, Director – Prospects

US Employment “You’re Hired!”

In 2007 Natural Learning Concepts launched a vital and exciting new resource to assist people on the autism spectrum in finding employment: Autism Job Placement, available at www.nlconcepts.com/autism-jobs.htm

This free service aims to link people with ASD to autism-friendly employers who look beyond factors like interview or interpersonal skills and who, instead, want to know about unique talents and abilities. People with ASD can post information about their skills or job interests; employers can list job vacancies and desired needs.

“The Road to Stability”

Despite his gift for mathematics and good qualifications, James Macy found it difficult to settle in the workplace. Only when he happened to read about Asperger Syndrome in the New Scientist and on the Internet in 2001 did he wonder if the problem was more than just a lack of assertiveness. After being made redundant and then undergoing unpleasant disciplinary procedures in another job, he finally gained a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and some support. James writes…

At about the time I gained my diagnosis I also contacted Prospects and they sent Andrea to help with the situation at work.

Things had got so bad that I was not able to stay there, but Andrea explained to people at work about Asperger Syndrome (AS). She was also extremely helpful in negotiating favourable terms for me to leave the job.

I decided that I really wanted to move back to the area of mathematics after having drifted into computer programming. We looked at various jobs on the internet and Andrea suggested I should apply for a statistical job in the civil service.

Finding a new job in statistics

There was then a delay in my getting further help to look for a job – the job centre was trying to find out if some other agency could help me more cheaply. Fortunately, contact with Prospects was re-established in time for Andrea to help me to prepare for the civil service interview.

We spent time discussing interview skills, and I did practice interviews (some of them videod). Andrea gave me feedback on my mock interviews and I was encouraged to evaluate my own performance. This process greatly increased my confidence.

Andrea also came along to the selection process with me, where she explained to the interviewers about AS and provided tips on the best way to communicate with me in this setting. Shortly after that I heard that they would offer me a job.

There was then a delay of six months while the civil service was trying to find a suitable position for me. Katie, a new recruit to Prospects, was now helping me to prepare for the new job. She attended an informal meeting I had with the people from the methodology group. Katie explained about AS and the ongoing support Prospects offers in the workplace. I felt more relaxed having somebody else to represent me at the meeting and was given the opportunity to explain how AS effects me.

Ongoing support

In February 2003, I started work at the Office for National Statistics. Now I am working with some statistical software in an environment which is more structured and surrounded by a large number of other statisticians.

As I get rather tired with commuting to London daily, I was pleased that the ONS agreed to let me work 80% full-time – four days each week. After I started, Katie gave a short ‘AS awareness’ seminar to my immediate colleagues. (Hardly any had heard of AS.)

She gives me valuable feedback on how I am relating to others at work and also helps me to organise myself, always a weak point with me. Above all it gives me much more confidence knowing that I have the support from Prospects.

James Macy

Prospects Service User

Aspie to Aspie – “Job Interview Jitters”

A job interview is nerve-wracking for any individual, but it can be especially difficult for those of us on the spectrum. Here’s 10 things to remember before and during a job interview:

Before applying for a particular job, ask yourself if it plays to your strengths. Is there too much multitasking, socializing or too many sensory distractions, etc? Be honest with yourself.

Create a portfolio that visually shows your potential employer accomplishments (awards), activities (camp counselor, public speaking), or job-related strengths (web design, artwork). Doing this can and will make you stand out from the crowd.
Hire an agency that helps create resumes to get yours in tip-top shape; only list references from people you trust.
At the interview, shake the interviewer’s hand with a firm grasp and make eye contact.
Sell your strong points. Many individuals with ASD make terrific candidates because of their honesty, dedication and overall desire to do the best job possible.
Do your best to answer the interviewer’s questions as directly and completely as possible without overindulging or giving one or two word answers.
Self-disclosure (regarding your diagnosis) is extremely important once you have been hired, but is not recommended during the initial interview. Your main job during an interview is to sell yourself to a potential employer.
At the end of the interview, conclude by saying ….. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr/MS Jones” (or whoever).

Follow up the next day with a thank you note and reiterate your strong points.

Don’t be crushed if you’re not hired for the first job you apply for. Most people have to apply several places before finally receiving an offer. Remember, it’s NOT personal.

Nick Dubin, M.Ed., Psy.S, diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome;

author of Asperger Syndrome and Bullying: Strategies and Solutions (2007)

Nick Dubin – The Official Website of Author & Presenter Nick Dubin”
Includes DVD “Asperger Syndrome and Employment: A Personal Guide to Succeeding at Work”

International “Auties.org”

Individuality, Diversity, Equality, Achievement

Auties.org is for people on the Autistic Spectrum who are ready to dare reach out, open the doors to the community and market their abilities directly to the public and for those interested in supporting these pioneers.

So if you are on the autistic spectrum and stagnating whilst waiting for society to create something for you, why not go ahead and look at what you CAN do and CAN manage, what you ARE interested in and ARE doing now, and begin creating your own opportunities. Even more, if you haven’t got a clue where to start, take a look at what others on the autistic spectrum are doing in their own self employment and employable hobbies/skills and see if it inspires you to dare such things or even something completely different with your own unique style, in your own unique way.

All you need is a website or an email and the desire to take that leap. They say the greatest risk in life is taking no risks at all.

Auties.org has several parts:

  • the entrepreneurial/self-employment/work-seeking part where people formally diagnosed on the autism spectrum can list their own goods, skills and services, seek autism friendly employment or seek work partners and also where employers and consumers can find people on the autism spectrum to employ or buy from;

  • the ‘autism-friendly’ people and establishments side where you can check out all kinds of places, spaces, faces and activities that are advertising themselves for various reasons as ‘autism-friendly’. Some of these people may even be open to employing people on the autism spectrum;

  • the autism friendly activities club part where people can join or form clubs based on shared skills, interests or activities;

  • the autism friendly dinner club part where people can join or form dinner clubs.

By using Auties.org and autism-friendly establishments and contributing to the employment and self employment of those on the autism spectrum, you are supporting a vision of equality regardless of difference, celebration of diversity, ability within disABILITY, and of active empowerment of one of the most disempowered and also underemployed communities in society.


Donna Williams re Auties.org:

”The level of unemployment among people on the autism spectrum is massive”:


USA “College Living Experience(CLE)”
We know people who once thought that college wasn’t an option for them. In fact, we see them daily, because we’re the people who are making sure college is an option. We’re CLE – College Living Experience – and not only do we make college possible by offering an unparalleled network of academic support, we teach independence. Our students go to college while learning to live on their own. They’re making the grade and a home at the same time. CLE. College made possible.

Our students.
Our students are those for whom success, career and independence are possible. Their challenges include: Learning Disabilities ADD/ADHD Psychosocial-Maturational issues Aspergers Nonverbal Learning Disorder

Ask about CLE locations in Austin, Denver and Ft. Lauderdale
Call us at 800.486.5058 or visit cleinc.net

In no particular order…

Not Limited to Location “Autism At Work”

Enabling People On The Autism Spectrum To Find Employment

USA ~ Twin Cities(Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota) “Employment Services”

The Autism Society of Minnesota: “Employment Resources”

USA “Employment for Persons with Disabilities”

USA “Autism Society of America:  Employment”

USA “Pathfinders for Autism:  Employment Training Opportunities”

USA – MARYLAND “CSAAC – Vocational Supports”:


Job Accomodation Network   http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/

Project HIRED   http://www.projecthired.org/

The Monster Board   http://www.monster.com/

Americans With Disabilities Act   http://www.ada.gov/

Institute on Independent Living   http://www.independentliving.org/

Social Security Online   http://www.ssa.gov/

AUSTRALIA “Alpha Employment”

AUSTRALIA “JobAccess – help and workplace solutions for the employment of people with disability”

WESTERN AUSTRALIA “AIM Employment Services”:

NEW ZEALAND “Equal Employment Opportunities Trust”:

SINGAPORE “Disability Portal – Autism Employment

JAPAN “Autism Japan”

CHINA “Autism China”

THAILAND “Autism Thailand”



INDIA “Autism Links”

AFRICA http://www.autismafrica.com/index.php

SOUTH AFRICA http://www.autismsouthafrica.org/

SWEDEN http://www.autism.se/

DENMARK http://www.autismeforening.dk/

BELGIUM http://www.autismevlaanderen.be/

ITALY “Autismo Italia”

SPAIN “Pagina principal de Autismo Espana”

TURKEY “Todev”

FRANCE http://autisme.france.free.fr/

THE NETHERLANDS http://www.convenantautisme.nl/home.html?mnu=tmain0:*&s=1&l=nl&t=1219256150

GERMANY http://www.autismus.de/pages/startseite.php


BRITISH COLOMBIA “Autism Society of British Colombia Employment Opportunities”:

ONTARIO – Pickering, Federal, Durham Region and Toronto Employment Networks

SCOTLAND “Intowork Website”

The Moving Intowork Team works with people who have Asperger Syndrome (AS) in order to support them into mainstream work or assist their progress towards employment.

SCOTLAND “Go for it!”: Findings from research commissioned with a view to reviewing progress in regard “Nature & Availablity of Employment Support” for people with learning differences and/or Autism/AS.

SCOTLAND – The EQUAL project was launched in Autumn 2005, for young people and adults attending further and higher education establishments within the Glasgow area who are on the autism spectrum, focusing on those with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome orhigh-functioning autism. Support is given while the young person is participating in their chosen course, in order that the barriers they face are reduced as far as possible, both socially and academically. They are helped to make the transition in to employment at the end of their course. Young people interested in being referred should contact Anna Williamson on 0141 221 8090 (anna.williamson@nas.org.uk)

BELFAST The Orchardville Society – “Employment for Autism”


UK “The Integrated Resource – Supported Employment Project”:

UK “Benefits Advice, Employment Training, Employment Advice, Disabled Education and Employment Opportunities” via ableize(Disability Resource Directory owned and run by people with disabilities)

UK – (WEST YORKSHIRE ) “SACAR” Enabling and Employment Support


UK “Autism Plus – Employment Services:  jobsteps”


Asperger Technical was established to help highly skilled people such as scientists, engineers, and software developers, with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism find suitable careers either in industry or government departments. Our aim is to create a channel for people with Asperger syndrome who have a high level of technical skills and qualifications, and people from the high technology industry and government departments to connect with one another.


UK “AS-IT”  IT Consultancy employing people with Asperger Syndrome

UK “Aspire Employment Service (Shropshire):

UK “The Undiscovered Workforce: the NAS Employment Campaign”:

UK “Autism Initiatives UK”:

All Flags Courtesy of 3D Flags:


UK “Rookery Hove” Opened November 2006
Mark is 20 and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He really wants to work and to live in his own flat but he’s anxious about ……lots of things!

His next step?

Rookery Hove is a unique short-term residential facility providing a ‘higher’ education in life developmental skills for young people aged 18 to 35 with Asperger’s Syndrome.

You may have left education or not achieved your goals, finding it difficult to cope in a mainstream setting.

If you are ambitious to learn and are self-motivated to progress, Rookery Hove can offer you an intensive programme for 3-5 years in social and personal development. For those who require additional therapies we have access to a wide range including Psychiatrist and Psychologist support. We have links with local colleges and courses and will support you to attend.

Funding will usually be through Social Services.

If you would like to know more or to enquire about a place at Rookery Hove call 01373 475177 or email rookeryhove@priorygroup.com

Rookery Hove – We offer continued specialist development to help individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome meet their potential and further develop their life skills to gain independence and integrate into community life.

UK “Information for people with an ASD”
“The ‘Access to Employment’ course in London”
“Living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder”
“Education, Employment and your ASD”
“Benefits and Welfare Rights”
“Encounters with the Law”
“Resources – magazines, journals, newsletters and websites specifically for and/or by people on the spectrum”
“After diagnosis: adolescents and adults”
“Services for people on the spectrum, includes information regarding “Prospects”
“The Politics of Autism meeting”
“Helpline email service”

UK Prospects London:

020 7704 7450 or email prospects-london@nas.org.uk

Prospects Glasgow:

0141 248 1725 or email prospects-glasgow@nas.org.uk

Prospects South Yorkshire:

0114 267 6210 or email prospects-sheffield@nas.org.uk

Prospects Manchester:

0161 998 0577 or email prospects-manchester@nas.org.uk

Or visit www.autism.org.uk/prospects

Copenhagen, Denmark


We Make A Difference

Many of the world’s great minds have reached astonishing achievements due to persistence, learning faculties, a structured way of thinking, and attention to details.

Albert Einstein, Socrates, Charles Darwin, and Sir Isaac Newton were all probably affected by a mild form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) called Asperger’s Syndrome.

If they had not met the criterias for Asperger’s Syndrome, they would probably not have been able to achieve the same degree of competence that helped them change the world as we see it today.

Times have changed – modern society has increased its demands to the capabilities of the employees in the areas of social interaction, communication, and adaptability – exactly those areas, where Einstein and those like him, could not cope.

Society’s social demands to employees have consequences for people with ASD. In spite of their special competences, most have difficulties finding and keeping a job.

At SPECIALISTERNE we are organized to meet the requirements of persons with ASD in order to create an optimal working environment.

Did you know?

Did you know that close to one percent of the population meet the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

  • *Did you know that most people with ASD do not get the necessary support because of lack of ASD knowledge?

  • *Did you know that the business community realises a growing need for specialists?

  • *Did you know that people with ASD are natural born specialists?



Article “Meet the Danish company for autistic staff”

LOOKING UP Autism Newsletter – Volume 4 Number 9 2007

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Autistic people rarely have diplomas. Many lack the piece of paper showing that they have finished school, because exams are too much of an obstacle. This limits their career opportunities, and many never get a job because their handicap requires different settings than most Danish workplaces offer.

Fortunately, there is an IT company called Specialisterne (Danish for “The Specialists”) which, with few exceptions, only employs people who are normally not seen in Danish workplaces. Three out of four employees have autism spectrum disorders. Most have Asperger’s syndrome.

The first three software testers were ISEB test certified recently, and according to Thorkil Sonne, founder and CEO of Specialisterne, the plan is for all employees to be certified within the areas where it is possible to achieve internationally recognised proficiency diplomas and certificates.

”Introducing a certification programme is a milestone for us. Autistic people do not have many things on their CV. Our objective is for everyone to go through the programme,” Sonne says.

A person with Asperger’s syndrome is capable of going to school and learning. But new surroundings, unfamiliar situations and unknown people are generally difficult for these individuals to handle. Because of this, many have difficulties taking an exam.

“Many did very well in school, but not when it came to tests. Therefore, they do not have the diploma they were supposed to have,” general manager Lisbeth Zornig Andersen explains.

Therefore, exams in connection with test certifications must take place in an environment that is secure for Specialisterne’s employees, and they therefore take place in the company’s offices in a suburb of Copenhagen.

The untraditional education and exam form was developed in co-operation with the Danish IT Society, which is in charge of certifications, and the development company Delta, which supplies teaching resources.

It may be argued that a certificate is not significant if a person already has a job he or she likes. But this is not Specialisterne’s way of thinking.

“The certifications are about the self-understanding of the company and its employees. It also relates to customers’ security,” says Sonne.

Many of Specialisterne’s 50 employees solve tasks for external customers, although it requires some preparation, both for the customer and for Specialisterne.

But Specialisterne’s employees are fabulous software testers. Their error rates are extremely low, and they often solve software tasks faster than average in the industry,” says Sonne.

Sonne established Specialisterne in 2005 when his son was diagnosed with ASD. He realised that the labout market was not geared to employ handicapped people, and he saw it as his mission to help people with this disability maintain a satisfactory and active life.

This year, he hired a manager, Lisbeth Zornig Andersen, who handles business development while he is becoming an international guru in his field.

Thorkil spends most of his time travelling around the world to create networks and inspire other autism organisations. For instance, he has been to Ohio this year to deliver a lecture at an autism conference. Furthermore, he is going to participate in the software test competiton, Starwest, in the United States next year. In 2004, he received the Autism Award for his work.

Sonne has promised his wife that he will not take out a mortgage loan in their house when he starts doing business abroad, as he did when he started his company.

But once financing is in place, he expects to set up an office in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2008 where the objective is to employ 500 software testers with ASD.

“We also have serious contacts in Sweden, Norway and Germany that want to start similar companies. So things are moving in the right direction,” says Sonne.

Specialisterne expects a small profit this year. Business is going great and the customer base is stable, not least since the company recently joined forces with the Danish consultancy, Testhuset, Sonne explains. “This is an important agreement. They are in charge of managing tasks, and we supply the executing efforts. It really extends our networks.” The extraordinary IT company is greeted with understanding and kindness in the Danish IT industry and abroad.

“Specialisterne is an exception in Danish business life. Integrating these people in a workplace requires extensive resources, and Specialisterne does a great job,” says Anders Linde, training consultant in the Danish IT Society.

The Danish IT Society, which supervises the software certifications, has offered a favourable price on the certifications. At the moment, two business consultants from Accenture are working on a blueprint describing all processes in order for the business concept to be easier to apply in other places.

“They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Acenture has made a donation without our request,” says Lisbeth Zornig Andersen.

In Denmark, Specialisterne has customers like KMD, Microsoft, CSC and Oracle. “They have seen the light. They do it because they realise that they get their money’s worth. We solve real tasks for them. That is the way we prefer it, because that way we can prove our worth,” she says.

The fact that Specialisterne has attracted interest all over the world is emphasised by a tie-up between Sonne and a research student from a Barcelona university to apply for European Union funds for a research project on ways to integrate particularly challenged people into the labour market.

Want to Work at NASA?

NASA is more than astronauts. We are scientists, engineers, computer programmers, personnel specialists, accountants, writers, maintenance workers and many, many other kinds of people. At the NASAJobs Web site, you can review job listings, post a resume and even apply for a NASA job online.

At NASAJobs students can find opportunities for internships, cooperative programs and summer employment.

For all the diversity of NASA’s workforce, the question, “How can I become an astronaut?” is very common. The answer depends on where you are now and where you want to go.

If you haven’t finished high school yet, former astronaut Dr. Sally K. Ride has these suggestions for you:

“The most important steps that I followed were studying math and science in school. I was always interested in physics and astronomy and chemistry, and I continued to study those subjects through high school and college on into graduate school. That’s what prepared me for being an astronaut; it actually gave me the qualifications to be selected to be an astronaut. I think the advice that I would give to any kids who want to be astronauts is to make sure that they realize that NASA is looking for people with a whole variety of backgrounds: they are looking for medical doctors, microbiologists, geologists, physicists, electrical engineers. So find something that you really like and then pursue it as far as you can and NASA is apt to be interested in that profession.”

If you’ve graduated from college or are in the military, and you’re ready to apply, here’s how

“NASA Jobs”:

UK  “Skills Train – Your fast track to a new IT Career”

SkillsTrain is the acknowledged leader in providing affordable, high quality IT training – we are the UK’s largest specialist home study and distance learning provider of IT courses.

Our specialist knowledge is industry led and commercially focused and will benefit the aspiring IT professional as well as those taking the first steps towards gaining a professionally recognised IT qualification. Our distance learning courses provide the skills and qualifications that can make a difference to your career success, whether you are seeking an entirely new career or boosting your earning potential in your existing career in IT.

SkillsTrain’s home study courses allow you to learn at your own pace, to fit around the life you lead. You will be offered unrivalled training support from qualified tutors and are regularly assessed as you study towards an industry recognised qualification and certification.

SWEDEN “Left is Right”

Left is right is a consulting company offering a unique capability. Our consultants are diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and thus have a sense for detail, are extremely thorough and have the ability to work with repeated tasks while maintaining a high quality. To read more about how we can help your company, read Our services.

Luxury Quality Scented Candles “Humbolt Candles – Autism & Disability Employment Company”:

Nothing says Humbolt like artisan craft.  What’s also Humbolt is luxury quality uniquely fragranced soybean candles at very competitive prices.  All of the candles are handpoured and with highly aromatic fragrances.  We strive to create the perfect candles that are long lasting, highly fragranced and that individuals become loyal to not only because of their superior and unique qualities but because they are assisting the disability community to work.  Please support Humbolt Candles disability community to work to make available employment opportunities for people with autism and other developmental related disabilities.


Autelligent Laboratories

We believe all people have a contribution to make and deserve an opportunity to be productive.

With your caring and excellent help, we are creating jobs for the 40 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Today less than one in five of us are currently employed. We are motivated and competent and we deserve equal employment. Help make this a reality.

Autelligent Laboratories is dedicated to creating a space where autistic software engineers can more than contribute, we can excel.

“Autism Jobs”

Linking job seekers with vacancies in work related to autism, Aspergers and ASDs

“Autism & Employment”:

Research Autism “Supported Employment”

Web MD article “Adults with an ASD”
Includes Employment & Housing options


Indiana Resource Center Article “Moving Into the World of Employment”


BOOK “Employing people with Asperger syndrome: a practical guide is a book aimed at helping employers employ and support people with Asperger syndrome. It is available from www.autism.org.uk/pubs or by contacting the Prospects team. The Undiscovered Workforce information packs, for people on the autism spectrum seeking employment and for employers, are also available to download from the NAS website.


BOOK  “Asperger Syndrome Employment Workbook:

An Employment Workbook for Adults With Asperger Syndrome”

Author: Roger N. Meyer Foreword: Tony Attwood

NORTHERN IRELAND Acceptable Enterprises (Larne) Limited

We at Ael:

Provide disadvantaged people with the support to access further education, training and employment opportunities.

Support disadvantaged people to access a wide range of inclusive, community-based, educational, vocational and social opportunities.

Enable disadvantaged people to enhance their lifestyle and to operate more effectively in education, work and in the community.


The following is from an article on employment of AS people entitled “Employment and Adults with AS”.

Authors: Karen Hurlbutt, PhD is an assistant professor of special education at the U of N. Dakota. Her current interests include autism spectrum disorders and transitions of high schoolers with developmental disabilities. Lynne Chalmers PhD is a professor of special education at the University of North Dakota. Her current interests include field-based pre-service training and the impact of mentoring. Address: Karen Hurlbutt, University of North Dakota, Education Building, Room 303, Centennial Dr., Grand Forks, ND 58202.

Employment and adults with Asperger syndrome

Karen Hurlbutt and Lynne Chalmers

The names used in this study are pseudonyms.

Xenia. Xenia is a 39 year-old woman with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome who lives in an apartment in a large city in the Midwest with her cats, Vivar and Quiero. She has had a job providing respite care to a teenager with autism for the past 2 years. Xenia is currently single but was previously married. She and her husband divorced 6 years ago, after being married for 3 years. Xenia described her childhood as chaotic, as she is one of eight children. She struggled with peer relationships and tried hard to fit in. While her peers were interested in music, sports, famous singers, and the opposite sex, she was interested in numbers, Indians, rocks, and, her biggest passion, South America. Her interest in other countries started at a young age and continues today. She has maps and flags of different countries and bus schedules from different cities and can remember where people are from before she remembers their names. While she was in college, a friend approached her about her possibly having autism and gave her a book to read on the topic. Certain things began to make sense to Xenia, and she was finally diagnosed with autism by a clinical psychologist at the age of 19. Xenia graduated from college with a degree in political science but has never held a job in that field. She receives support services through Vocational Rehabilitation and currently takes Prozac for depression.


Eugene. Eugene is a 65 year-old man with a diagnosis of autism. He is presently retired and lives in a city in the northeastern United States. He lives in a house with his brother and three cats. He has never been married. For the past 6 years he has held a volunteer position at a clearinghouse that distributes information about autism. He fills orders by putting together packets of information based on specific requests. Eugene struggled with relationships and getting along with people while he was growing up. His most successful school experiences were in military school, where the schedule and rules provided him with the order and structure he needed. His mother fought to provide him with the support he needed, as autism was virtually unheard of in the 1940s and 1950s, when he was growing up. He was finally diagnosed as having autism in 1995, at age 56. He wishes to this day that there had been more information about autism in his youth, because he could not figure out why he was the way he was and thought he was the only one in the world like this. Eugene graduated from college with a degree in speech. He had planned to get a degree in speech correction but was unsuccessful at student teaching. His supervisors told him he needed professional help but never offered to help him. He has had numerous jobs over the years but was unsuccessful at most of them, for one reason or another. He has never received any supportive vocational services; if he had, he believes he would have had much more success on the job. He currently takes Paxil for depression.


Joe. Joe is a 35 year-old man with a diagnosis of autism. He recently married and lives with his wife in a large city in the Midwest. He holds two master’s degrees, one in medieval and Roman history and the other in library and informational science. Joe works as an information specialist at a university. He was diagnosed as having autism at age three and a half and again at age six, when he was also labeled as deaf and mentally retarded. When Joe was young, he was echolalic and liked to watch records spin around and around. By the time he was in college, Joe was interested in meeting young women and dating but was unsuccessful in his attempts to start a relationship. He often called women on the phone too much and drove them away by not recognizing their feelings of being harassed. He had always wanted to be married and finally reached this important goal; he was married last summer. Eye contact continues to be difficult for him, especially with new people or in new situations. Joe has had numerous jobs in his life and has struggled with maintaining meaningful employment until now. He has never received vocational support services, nor is he being treated by a psychiatrist.


Rosalind. Rosalind is a 43 year-old woman who officially received a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome just 5 years ago. In school, when she was growing up, she received no help whatsoever. Teachers referred to her as “intelligent” but thought she was refusing to do what she was supposed to do. She was unorganized and messy; however, she did receive good grades. Her family did not understand what was wrong with her but observed that she was not social, did not participate in activities as other girls did, and seemed to always be competing with her sister. Rosalind had passionate interests in ancient Egypt, Japanese culture, and science fiction, and was in the electronics club at school. She is currently divorced and has a teenage son, who also has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Rosalind majored in accounting in college but had no real interest in it and did not do well, although she completed her college degree. She had to take whatever jobs were offered to her over the years. After years of failed employment attempts, she currently works in a preschool setting for children with special needs. She would like to return to college to get a degree in social work or teaching. She is currently being treated by a psychiatrist and had previously been prescribed Ritalin for ADHD symptoms.


Daina. Daina is a 56 year-old woman with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. She lives in a medium-sized city on the East Coast with her teenage son. Daina received an official diagnosis of Asperger syndrome only 3 years ago but always knew that she had it. She read an article about it when she was a teenager but was so much more verbal than the children she read about that she and her family did not pursue a diagnosis at that time. When Daina was growing up, she was teased and belittled a great deal. She developed defense mechanisms to survive, and she describes herself as “a little eccentric.” She did not understand what the other teenage girls saw in cliques and fashion, and never understood why anyone wanted to wear jewelery. She continues to struggle with reading others’ faces and expressions and does not interact much with co-workers. She believes she does not have the “same emotions” as they do. Daina has held numerous jobs in her life, mostly as a typist or secretary. The longest she has held a job is 5 years. The day the primary researcher contacted her, Daina had just lost yet one more job.


Jack. Jack is a 25 year-old man with a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, which he received at the age of 14. He received services under IDEA throughout his school career, under the category of Other Health Impaired (OHI). He continues to receive psychiatric services and is taking Buspar for anxiety. During his last 2 years of high school, Jack received vocational support services and completed three different job-shadowing assignments. These were at a library, a food-packaging warehouse, and a sheltered workshop setting. After graduation, Jack applied for vocational rehabilitation services and received job coaching support for 2 years. He is currently single, lives at home with his mother and father, and works in a factory with four other young adults with disabilities. There is one job coach available for the five employees. Jack checks canned goods for damage before they are packaged for grocery stores. He has had this job for 2 years. Jack wants to move into an apartment but stated that he is not ready yet. His parents encourage him to do so, as they do not want him to become too comfortable living at home. However, there are no other young men with similar needs in Jack’s town who might be his roommates, and he does not want to live alone. Because of Jack’s high level of anxiety and his worrisome and obsessive personality, his parents also do not want him to live alone. However, Jack is not eligible to receive long-term support services for independent living, so he is not sure what he will be able to do in the future.

Theme 1: Adults with AS/HFA Experience Frequent Unemployment and Underemployment Situations

All of the participants had negative experiences in the world of work over a period of several years. For the most part, they had not been able to obtain jobs in the fields they had been trained in, and each had lost many jobs in the past.

Rosalind, for example, majored in accounting but had never worked in the field. She shared that she had to take whatever job I could get, whatever was offered to me – usually menial jobs, like entry-level computer or fast food. I think the longest I ever held a job was for 2 years, and even then I juggled a few times within that department. I don’t think I’ve worked longer than 3 months at any given place this past year.

Xenia commented on a too common situation:

I have a degree in political science and am just trying to get a decent job with decent pay and benefits. I have cleaned cat cages, done janitorial work (which is boring, boring, boring), office work at the VA, (been) a telemarketer (which I hated, but I learned how to do public speaking!), and worked in a group home on the early morning shift.

Daina had similar work experiences and had “had so many jobs” in her lifetime. She noted that she had been working as a secretary for more than 35 years and shared that the longest she had ever held a job for was 5 years, when she worked as a secretary for a one-person business. She believes that she “really understands the stuffy” but the other secretaries soon became uncomfortable around her and “try to get rid of me. I try to make it as difficult as I can for them to find an excuse to get rid of me.”

Eugene also worked at a large number of positions in various places of business. He provided a great deal of information about those jobs and the reasons why he was terminated. He shared that he had worked as a caseworker but was let go after 5 months. He also did odd jobs as a dishwasher or in stockrooms, and “during the summer, I would rent out beach chairs and umbrellas, and parked cars with my oldest brother.” The reasons he was given for being fired from these jobs was that he “either asked too many questions, or didn’t ask enough.”

Similarly, Joe experienced the loss of innumerable jobs in the past and shared his frustration at not being able to maintain any of them. “I have had lots of jobs which have lasted anywhere from 1 week to 1 year. This was very frustrating to me. I often needed to ask for help and never did because I did not want to look stupid.”

Jack noted that he had not been in the world of work for long but admitted that he had struggled with the jobs he had held so far. He said that his concentration was better when he worked within a small group of people because “there is too much confusion when too many people are around.” At his current job, he was laid off temporarily because he experienced too much anxiety with the change in co-workers, supervisors, and job coaches. He required supervision to reassure him that he was doing adequate work and commented that this requirement had resulted in his not receiving more competitive job placements.



In this study, adults with Asperger syndrome revealed areas of difficulty regarding their employment experiences and gave reommendations for helping others like them be successful in employment situations. All of those interviewed had had difficulty finding work commensurate with their ability levels and maintaining a job. Not being able to maintain employment was the biggest problem for each of the participants. This was the result of poor communication between the employee and employer or co-workers, social skills deficits, and sensory issues. In terms of employment, the main goal is to help people with AS obtain and maintain successful job experiences in a way that allows them to be who they are.

The problems and difficulties encountered in the world of work can have a devastating effect on mood, mental health, and self-esteem for adults with AS. Depression, anxiety, and anger are very common in adults with AS and often are the result of employment issues (Attwood, 1998; Bashe & Kirby, 2001).

Adults with AS have difficulty in understanding social rules/customs, understanding cues/nonverbal body language, reciprocating social interactions, understanding their own and others’ feelings, and being able to interpret the other person’s feelings (Attwood, 1998). Their need for routine, sameness, and predictability causes them to be resistant to change (Meyer, 2001). They are usually concrete and literal, may develop an intense interest in a certain topic, and may have organizational difficulties (e.g., getting work assignments organized, forgetting to take things to work or home, having a messy work area). They may have difficulty structuring their own environment, including their work area (Myles & Simpson, 1998). In addition, individuals with AS tend to follow rules extremely well but may experience difficulty in accepting that others may not follow those same rules and may take it upon themselves to report others if they feel they are not doing as they should (Attwood, 1998; Meyer, 2001).

Adults with AS may or may not have early or continued delay in language but fairly consistently have difficulties with language for social purposes (Attwood, 1998). Their speech may be pedantic; they may use a monotone voice and have inappropriate inflection or expression (yet may have an advanced vocabulary). Idioms, metaphors, and words with double meanings are often misinterpreted or not understood. These individuals may take irrelevant comments or may not know which questions to ask (Attwood, 1998). These difficulties can cause problems interacting with employers and coworkers.

Adults with AS have sensory sensitivities, especially to noise (e.g., fire alarms, fluorescent lights, crying babies), but also to variations in lighting, textures (e.g., certain fabrics, may not like buttons), tastes (e.g., may gag on certain foods/textures), or smells. They may have hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to any of the senses, which can cause difficulty in work settings.

Adults with AS may exhibit self-stimulation (e.g., rocking, twirling, spinning self or objects) or ritualistic behaviours (e.g., lining things up, needing things to be “just so”). These behaviours most likely provide comfort, relaxation, and a feeling of control (Meyer, 2001). If inappropriate behaviours are observed, it is typically during times of stress, fatigue, or sensory overload.

The Supported Employment model and the Master and Apprentice model are both excellent models for working with people with AS (Attwood, 1998; Suomi, Ruble, & Dalrymple, 1993). The Master and Apprentice model allows for the individual to become skilled through training first and learning on the job first hand, at the individual’s own rate. The Supported Employment model emphasizes “place-train” (i.e., the individual is placed first and then learns on the job) rather than “train-place” (i.e., the individual is trained first and then placed on the job). Note that simulated settings and situations may not work effectively for individuals with AS, as they may refuse to participate (Myles & Simpson, 1998).

The professionals responsible for job matching should take into account the individual’s strengths, interests, and need for flexibility, as well as the job complexity. A flexible job situation may include flexible work hours or comp time, allowing work to be done at home, adjusting the amount of work that needs to be completed in a given time, or allowing breaks at unstructured times. On the other hand, some individuals with AS may have more difficulty with changes and may work better in consistent, structured environments.

When placing individuals with AS in jobs, professionals need to remember to find a good match with the individual’s interests, strengths, and unique needs. For example, if the individual is interested in maps, perhaps he or she could become a cartographer or a taxi driver. If the individual has great skills in art, a job as a cartoonist, architect, or artist may be appropriate. The areas of computers, electronics, science, and engineering are often areas if interest as well.

Temple Grandin, one of the best-known women with autism, described how one of her teachers used her special interest to help her develop a career:

“Mr. Carlock used my fixation on cattle squeeze chutes to motivate me to study science and learn how to use the scientific indexes. He told me that in order to really learn about my interests, I had to learn scientific methods and study in school. The psychologists and the counselors wanted to get rid of my weird interest, but Mr. Carlock broadened it away from a narrow fixation into the basis of a lifelong career. Today I travel all over the world designing stockyards and chutes for major wheat packaging firms. (as cited in Attwood, 1998, p. 97)

The many advantages of hiring an individual with AS should be emphasized and shared with the potential employer. Individuals with AS are more likely to arrive at work on time and return after lunch and other breaks on time, will rarely miss work due to illness, and will not waste time chatting with coworkers or spend time on personal phone calls.

Initially, individuals with AS should be provided with a personal tutor, mentor, or job coach to help them learn and maintain the job. They may require support for longer periods of time than is typical.

If the need for accommodations is not revealed at the beginning of the job experience, the individual with AS may have no means of legal protection (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitiation Act of 1973). Even when sufficient support is provided to individuals with AS on the job, it may still be difficult for them to maintain that job.

Adolescents and adults with AS appear to be at risk for depression; therefore, involved professionals should note any changes in behaviour that may indicate signs of depression, such as high levels of disorganization, inattentiveness, isolation, excessive fatigue, and suicidal remarks (Barnhill, 2001).

Support services such as counseling, psychiatric services, or psychological intervention should be available for individuals with AS to help them cope with the problematic social aspects of employment.

In conclusion, success on the job can become a reality for individuals with AS if they are provided with structure, order, routines, and clear rules and assignments. If changes on the job do occur, the individuals need to be prepared for these transitions through clear explanations. Breaking tasks into steps can alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed. Like many adults, people often define who they are by their occupations and interests, “by what they do in a practical sense rather than as a social network” (Meyer, 2001, p.5) More often than not, they may not have a life outside of work. In an interview with Temple Grandin, she stated that “my life is basically my work. If I did not have my work, I would not have any life”.

Ultimately, if individuals with AS are provided with jobs that are commensurate with their ability and educational levels, built on their strengths and interests, and provide sufficient job support, they will have more successful job experiences. As Rosalind stated, “Employment issues are our biggest concern for all people with AS. It impacts so many other things.”


Autism and Asperger’s Personal Stories ~ Fact Sheets

“Preparing To Be Nerdy Where Nerdy Can Be Cool”

College planning for the high functioning student with autism or Asperger’s

By Lars Perner, Ph.D.

“Choosing The Right Job For People With Autism Or Asperger’s Syndrome”

By Temple Grandin, PhD.

“Holding Down A Job”:

“Workplace Bullying”:

“Employment and Asperger’s Syndrome”

By Mr Coffee

“Advice For Employers With Aspie Workers”:

“Making The Transition From The World Of School Into The World Of Work”

By Temple Grandin, Ph.D.

A Positive Attitude to Disability

BBC Scotland reporter Ian Hamilton has been travelling around Europe to investigate job opportunities for disabled people.


Denmark and France were quite different when it came to helping disabled people into work.

As Preeti and I landed in Madrid after a two hour flight from Paris, we were soon to discover that Spain also had some common themes.

For example, like France, Spain also has a quota system.


Ian and Preeti at Servi media
Half of Servi Media’s workers has disabilities

Also like France, the Spanish employers generally ignore the quota.

This is reflected in the statistics, as fewer than 30% of disabled people in Spain are in work.

The Spanish have two different sets of quota targets for disabled workers.

The first is aimed at the private sector, which states that 2% of the workforce, in any company which employs more than 50 people, must have a disability.

For public administrations, it is 5% of the workforce.

If they can’t meet their quota targets, they do have other options.

Employers can buy services or goods from a disabled workshop or a disabled self-employed person.

If that doesn’t suit, the company can make a financial contribution to a workshop for disabled people.

Finally, the company can give cash to a training group which helps disabled people to find work.

Powerful group

If an employer refuses to do any of these, they can be fined.

Although, it could be as little as 300 Euro – £240.

The fines are low and not readily enforced, which results in 80% of companies in Spain ignoring the quotas.

The disability employment market in Spain is dominated by the Blind organisation called “ONCE”, which is pronounced Yonthy.

It is a blind organisation which runs the Spanish equivalent of the national lottery.

ONCE is a very wealthy and powerful group which gives employment opportunities to blind people.

In 1988 ONCE created a new organisation called the Foundation ONCE to help other disabled people into work.

It, in turn, has developed 20 trading companies providing further work for disabled people.


No amount of quotas and laws will force an employer to take on a disabled worker if they don’t wish too

One of these is Servi Media.

It is a press agency which sells stories to the Spanish media, mainly focusing on social affairs.

Half of the 100 workforce has disability

I wonder how bad the Spanish unemployment statistics would be if it was not for ONCE and its various subsidiaries?

Under the 1997 treaty of Amsterdam, all countries in the EU had to have employment laws in place by 2003 to protect disabled workers.

But one thing was clear to me after my trip.

No amount of quotas and laws will force an employer to take on a disabled worker if it does not wish too.

It is more about a society and a culture which can make things happen, than it is about European legislation


In my last entry, I suggested that France could be a very different place in how it regarded people with disabilities – and I wasn’t wrong.

The French have some of the earliest legislation to protect the rights of disabled people dating back to the 1970′s. However, this has appeared to have made little impact on the psyche of the French.


Ian Hamilton
Ian on the latest stop of his European tour


That’s not my opinion; it’s that of a small, but influential group of disabled people I talked to during my short visit to Paris.

They did concede that there had been some progress, but it was still a long way behind other member states in the EU, particularly when it came to their employment prospects.

Despite numerous laws and quota systems only 30% of people with disabilities are in employment. So clearly these various methods aren’t working.

Compare them to the Danish who have few laws and no quotas but have 58% of people in work. So why should this be? There is no doubt it has to do with culture and attitude.

As it was described to me in a frank and very open way by social researcher in Paris, Dominique Velche.

“The French don’t like disabled people.” Shocking I know, but according to him that’s what they think.

He believed it was because, as a culture, disabled people were hidden away and the general public were highly suspicious of people with disabilities.

As my guide Preeti and I, along with production support, moved around Paris on the Metro, Preeti commented that I was always being stared at.

Poor benefits system

I thought delusional as I am; it was because I was so fantastically good looking. Sadly, I expect it was because I’m blind and was carrying my white stick.

However, I couldn’t say they were directly unfriendly; someone always gave me a seat in the Paris rush hour.

Disabled people don’t have a high profile in Paris. Mainly because most, if not all, their transport isn’t accessible to a range of people with disabilities.

One of the biggest criticisms that disabled people have in France is the poor benefits system. Individuals who are on disability benefits are on 628 Euro per month and according to the disability movement in France, it’s 25% below the recommended breadline.

This is why just over a week ago 32,000 of them took to the streets of Paris to protest against the poor levels of living standards.

One of the organisers of the rally said he wasn’t hopeful about getting more cash from the French Government, but they intend to fight on.

I’m now preparing to go to our last city – Madrid, the capital of Spain. Someone said here in Paris, “the further you go south into Europe the worse it gets for people with disabilities.”

I’m not convinced that’s true, but I’ll find out soon enough and let you know.



Ian Hamilton
A 65m long wall divides the main square in Copenhagen

The Danes have a very casual attitude towards disability. I’m not suggesting they don’t care or they are rude, if anything the opposite is true.

It has more to do with their history and culture, according to a Danish social researcher I was interviewing as part of my report for Good Morning Scotland on Radio Scotland.

As far back as 1872, the Danes have had organisations led by disabled people and since the 1930s they have had a major influence on Danish politics.

They also do not have the large disability charities that we have here in Scotland.

Consequently this has helped to mould the attitude throughout Danish culture that disabled people are as good as anyone else and should reach their personal and professional potential.


This doesn’t mean that Denmark is some kind of disability utopia

The Danes have cultivated the principle of acceptance among the general public and government.

I expect this is probably why they have 58% of disabled people in employment, compared with Scotland and the UK’s 49%.

The Danes have been able to achieve this without any stringent disability laws and quota systems adopted by their European neighbours.

However, this doesn’t mean that Denmark is some kind of disability utopia.

The national disabled group in Denmark has constructed a 65m long wall dividing the main square in two, in front of the city hall.

The wall has only one opening for people to pass through. This is to symbolise the barriers that disabled people face and the lack of options they have.

In such a short visit it is hard to grasp how true the view is that the Danes are totally relaxed around all matters disability.

However, purely from a personal perspective, I get the impression: “You are blind, so what.”

I must emphasise, they somehow do it from a positive perspective and not a negative one.

I am now off to Paris to find out what the French are doing to tackle the problem of high unemployment among their disabled community.

I anticipate it will be very different from Denmark, let’s see if I am correct.



Ian Hamilton
Ian is investigating job opportunities for people with disabilities

I am travelling to three countries in the European Union as part of an investigation into the employment prospects of people with disabilities in Denmark, France and Spain.

I will be comparing them with the opportunities for disabled people in Scotland.

As someone who is a blind reporter, one of my big challenges is getting from one country to the next, especially as I’m not taking my guide dog on this trip – nor do I speak Danish, French or Spanish.

On reflection I decided to take some sighted assistance, so I brought my production help along in the form of Preeti.

I never imagined for one minute that my biggest challenge would have been to get into Glasgow Airport.

Understandably, after the attack on the terminal building last summer they have significantly tightened the security on the approach roads to the airport.

Help essential

I will be generous and say perhaps I got them on a bad week as numerous flights to and from the new Heathrow Terminal 5 were drastically affected, which had a knock-on impact on flights to and from Glasgow.

However, I did try to call 48 hours in advance, as they advise, to book assistance to get me from the new drop-off point into the terminal building.

If I was to do it unassisted, I would require the tracking and path-finding skills of Ray Mears, so some help would be essential to navigate this trail.

I called and called the airport. I found that my calls were either cut off, or in a never-ending loop of messages and requests to press various options.

Drop-off point

Eventually, I got through to the airport helpline which gave a further number to call and advice about a special disability drop-off point, where I could call for help.

Fantastic! Now I am getting somewhere. Sadly, no. This number also rang out.

Fortunately for me, on the day of my departure I was collected by a taxi driver I knew. We tried to find the drop-off point they referred to with no success.

After a fruitless search the driver parked and deposited me safely inside the terminal building.

After I met up with Preeti, I’m pleased to say my journey so far to the Danish capital has been uneventful. Now it’s time to do some reporting.


I thought you may be interested in a reply I received from the organisation which provides the airport support for disabled passengers.

Before I left for Denmark, I emailed them after my attempts to call them to ask for assistance failed miserably.

Well, I got a nice reply saying that they only provided disabled passengers with support Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 – so if you are planning to travel, I advise you only to have a disability during office hours.

To be fair, they also said that Glasgow Airport was responsible outside these hours. Well, not if my experience is anything to go by, as it wasn’t for the want of trying.

Source:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7326009.stm

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