Economic Realities of Autism

Personal income potential for the autistic population.

If you are autistic ( have autism?) and are an older adult like me, how many jobs have you held? How many jobs held included being bullied and or harassed by bosses, co workers or other associates?
How many of those jobs were high paying?
How many jobs did you hold long term (more than 5 years)??
I feel I can safely guess that you have held many low paying jobs, have been bullied and harassed, and have not held many of those jobs more than 5 years. Of course not everybody’s experiences will be the same.

Readers can guess where I am headed with this line of questioning and comments.

Of all the topics discussed on the autism forums I attend, jobs are in the discussions most frequently. How do I get training for a job? How do I know what to do in certain circumstances in my job? How do I keep from being bullied on the job? How do I apply for a job? How should I dress for a job interview? Should I reveal my autism? Should I ask for accommodations on the job? What jobs can be done at home and how do I set myself up in that business?

Due to autistic struggles, many of us find it difficult to interact with co workers or the public in work positions. Many report leaving jobs due to aggression and bullying from bosses, co workers, and customers although in general most of us get good grades for actual work performance. We can do the work, we struggle with social aspects of the job.

Studies have reported that autistic people have harder times finding jobs, keeping jobs, and working with others. Discussions in autism forums seems to reflect this.
Additionally, studies I have read say that autistic people are at higher risk of unemployment and homelessness. Gotta be related, right?

In a recent discussion online I asked what accommodations were needed most for adult autistic people once they knew of their diagnosis. Second after asking for counseling to help adjust to the new identity of self as autistic, was help finding and keeping jobs… job training, accommodations, aid in applying for jobs and matching skills to work on offer, all were mentioned as being something the adult autistic community needs and wants.

In some places agencies offer job placement help, training , skills testing, and social service agencies sometimes offer grants or have volunteers to help guide unemployed people to find suitable and sustainable work. As in many other areas of life where autistic people say they need help, this seems to be difficult for autistic populations to access. How can we find those autistic persons who need and want assistance with so many aspects of work and get them connected with the right agency, the right group, the right training or classes, the right office, social worker, volunteers or case workers? I don’t have answers, but I am learning more specific things about needs of the adult autistic community.
First thing on our list should be to make these agencies aware of our presence. Today adult autism from age 18 to 100 is not known or understood… autism is thought of as something related to children who get “treatment” early and are somehow magically no longer struggling or needing services when they become adults (age 18 to 22 depending on laws in your state). 5+ million adults over age 18 in the USA alone are autistic. ( CDC numbers according to the last census) and the majority of us are not diagnosed. How can we make society aware that autism is “for life” and not just for kids???????? I hope somebody finds some answers!

12 thoughts on “Economic Realities of Autism

  1. Thanks for this post! I actually just completed an autism assessment yesterday evening! I raised money for a private assessment through Psychiatry UK, a service I can recommend. I had to complete a verrry long questionnaire (20 pages!) and I had a 1 hour video call with a psychiatrist. I’m just waiting for the report from them.

    But a big trigger for beginning this mental health journey which I’ve been on for 2.5 yearsβ€” was precisely struggles with workβ€” finding a suitable job given my limitations and sensitivities and managing to do it consistently and even competently. Part of my autism questionnaire was listing my job history, which is something that I always love doing, because it’s so much as you describe!

    The longest I’ve had any job for was 1.5 years, and by the age of 30 I had been to university and had 10 different jobs. I’m 33 now and haven’t had a job for 2.5 years. πŸ˜†. I am really hoping that I get the autism diagnosis!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks! Oh, I did actually! And in fact, today I had a second appointment, and they diagnosed OCD too :D. It’s a big relief! It’s great to have these struggles recognised and I’m excited about getting moved into better accommodation eventually :).

        Liked by 2 people

      2. (I self-diagnosed OCD in myself over a year ago, and autism almost one year, so it’s not very momentous emotionally, but just for the professional agreement and formal recognition! It was clear to me without a doubt after much studying, that those things fitted me perfectly).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hits home for my son, tried to get him diagnosed 22yrs ago but no one seemed to know what to do. I homeschooled him and let him be himself as much as possible. Not sure how well this has worked he is currently in a mute implosion and stomped off 36hrs ago. Being a parent through all his jobs, moods, intense needs,demands for autonomy has been dizzying. He insists I am aspie and reading you has made me wonder. I did 39 yrs of nursing but did best with preemies and wanted to study sociology endlessly. Never have seen a link between sociology and aspie but…would pursue that save for this stinking neuromuscular disease causing fatigue , brain fog and weakness, I can only handle so many MDs in one lifetime. At 63 this life is truly too complicated for me to cope.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I was diagnosed with Aspergersi n my fifties after I lost my parents, but I always knew that “something was wrong” with me. I had many part-time of free-lance low paying jobs.Most I did not hold onto for very long. However,t here were a copule of part-time low payimg jobs where I flourished and was happy, and I held onto them for dear life. The COVID lockdown has forced the cancellation of the 2020 season of my present delightful job, and this sudden loss of the one job where I felt I really shone has caused me untold depression and anxierty.As it is, autistic peiople have a difficult time coping with change, and the loss of my principle joy in life was devastating., I can see why many people, especially single people, die soon after retirement. Hopefully my job is not gone forever and will come back for the 2021 season, but not knowing whether it will is really destroying my will to go on. I wonder if anyone else out there is in a similar predicament.All I hear is how autistic people love the lockdownbut for me, quite the opposite.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am retired for a long time now, so Covid has not changed much, but my heart aches for everybody who is losing jobs, having to deal with so many new rules and changes. It seems to me as soon as we get used to changes, things change again. So frustrating! I do hope your job comes back or that you can find another like it, that you can love and enjoy. In my area of the USA at present, employers are hiring and begging for workers. Some stores have even had to limit hours because the workers they are keeping can not carry the extra load/ extra hours. What a world!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In my 40+ years working I’ve probably had as many jobs. One job I had for seven years. I had to dumb down to keep the job and really felt that I lost a lot in that time. Other than that I could keep a job may be a year. I worked for temp agencies a lot but actual temporary positions aren’t as plentiful as they used to be. But when I do find one they tend to keep me longer than they intended. I used to be able to get hired permanent my work was always excellent but there was always at least one person that I just couldn’t work with so it never last. I can retire in October. I will be very poor but I will be free. I will still work but I won’t have to worry about having nothing in between jobs. If I knew then what I know now I would’ve went into computer programming. I always wanted to do that but was always just surviving from one job to the next. I don’t seem able to look for a job while I have a job and I will hold onto that job way longer than I should. I’m working a temp job right now that I interviewed for once since I’ve been here. It was horrible and humiliating. But I’m still here as a temp. I reapplied again and I’ll go through another horrible humiliating interview and who knows. If it’s meant to be it will be. If not I am just thankful to be working and getting closer and closer to being able to retire.


    1. oh boy do I ever identify with this! Retirement has meant cautious living within our means, but it has been so freeing. I never realized during my working years how very much stress and anxiety I was having every day. Retirement gave me time to find out about my autism, I did not know about my autism until after retirement. Wishing you all the best in retirement. For me these have been the best days of all.


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