Being part of the 79%

I am autistic, I am looking for full-time employment and I am not alone in discovering that it is almost impossible to find any.

However, there is a reason why the chance of a change in the near future is nothing to get excited about.

The National Autistic Society, a charity that is based in Great Britain which aims to improve the lives of not only those that live with a disability that can be found on the autistic spectrum but also families and friends that are affected too, have commissioned a report which explains how tough it is for those with autism to find full-time employment.

In their 50th year, the National Autistic Society remain supportive.
Credit – The National Autistic Society.

The Way We Are: Autism in 2012 documents how autism has an ever-growing place in the psyche of Great Britain as a nation and while more work is being done to help the public in understanding how such a complex range of disabilities can have an effect on those who live with them, a couple of percentages from The Way We Work, a section of the report, are alarming.

79% of autistic adults that are currently claiming out-of-work benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance are unemployed, even though they are applying for vacancies and are showing a keen interest in earning a living.

In contrast to this, 15% of autistic adults have found employment and are currently working on a full-time basis.

To many British people, this may be a couple of statistics that mean nothing as they do not have an impact on their daily lives. A lack of opportunities to give an autistic person a chance may not be relevant to them, and therefore may not be important.

Ironically, however, the National Audit Office believe that a drastic reversal of this situation will benefit the nation as a whole.

Quoted in the report, they say that “an initial investment in supporting adults with autism into employment would result in huge long-term savings to the public purse”.

Despite this, the NAS have outlined the extent of the shocking situation that British employers are placing on applicants with autism.

They say: “Our survey revealed that a high proportion of adults with autism are ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET) at a young age and sadly go on to be ‘NEET for life’.

“37% of adults have never been in paid employment after the age of 16, with 41% of people over 55 spending more than ten years without a paid job. Amongst those who aren’t currently employed, 59% don’t believe or don’t know if they will ever get a job.”

Such a set of figures is worrying as any prospects of a decent career in the future can hang on getting that first job, and I write this article as a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome who is currently looking for a job after leaving university.

Leaving my personal situation aside, it feels right to share the findings of the NAS at this moment in time because they seem to explain why it is so tough to find work.

There needs to be a scheme where help can be offered in not only building the confidence that the working world requires of those who go into it, but also where jobs can be found for autistic people and thankfully, the society have provided this.

Prospects has been set up to find employment for those that would like to find it, and there has already been a great deal of success which is beginning to make a small change.

70% of autistic adults that have been involved with the scheme have found employment.

The NAS have worked with employers to make this possible and ensure that they understand how extra assistance could be required to make their new employees feel comfortable as they enter the world of work.

As a summary, Prospects is a fantastic service and the NAS are doing great work to make sure that people with autism are not being denied a job that they would love to do.

Time must be taken to get 100% of autistic adults that are looking for work into employment, whether it is full-time or part-time, and it would only be right to leave the last word on this subject to a powerful man in Great Britain who could help to make this happen.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the Deputy Prime Minister, is also keen on changing the situation that is outlined above.

Paying tribute to the NAS, he says: “The National Autistic Society has been instrumental in improving the lives of people with autism over the last 50 years, providing incredible support, education and advice.

“That’s why I, and this government, fully support the work of the NAS and are committed to improving the lives and opportunities of people with autism, ensuring they are fully accepted into society and supporting their families.”

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