Once in a while I invite a guest blogger to post on a subject in the autism world that particularly interests me. Today I’m featuring Kelly Tatera, a staff member of Action Behavior Centers, who has written on various topics of interest in the autism community for blogs and websites. The ABC team strives to offer the best early intervention for children on the spectrum, and actively works to educate local and online communities on Autism Spectrum Disorders
As I continue to travel through pioneer county—the adult world of autism—I’m always hoping to learn information that will help Samantha, my adult daughter with autism, move forward in her life. While much of what I learn is neither groundbreaking nor inspiring, it sometimes helps to stop and gather the latest news and research. At least I feel like I’m on the right track as I help my daughter to bravely navigate the neurotypical world. Below is some helpful information from Kelly that can help all autism families move ahead on their journeys.
It’s well-known that a gender discrepancy exists in the world of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Males are nearly 5 times more likely than females to be diagnosed with autism. Despite this significant difference, remarkably little research has focused on gender’s role in autism. Scientists are finally beginning to spend more time delving into how autism differs in the sexes.
In a report published in the journal Molecular Autism, researchers outline some of the core ways in which females and males experience autism differently. First, females with autism tend to show more functional social behaviors than men with ASD. Women also exhibit less repetitive behaviors, which are telltale signs of autism. Researchers speculate that these differences in behaviors might lend themselves to underdiagnoses of females with ASD.
In the same report, the scientists touch upon the unique challenges females with ASD face as they transition into adulthood. There’s certainly a lack of research in this area, but existing data suggeststhat females with autism can often obtain a job initially but struggle to maintain employed positions.
According to an article written by Anita Lesko, a woman with autism and personal friend of Dr. Temple Grandin, childhood jobs – even simply being assigned to help out with daily household chores – can serve to help women with ASD develop certain skillsets needed to hold down jobs later in life.
“All of the childhood jobs we did prepared us for the day when we’d start our careers. We were used to working, showing up on time, following orders from a boss, figuring out how to get a job done,” Lesko writes. “So when the day came to embark into our careers, we really didn’t have to transition into anything. We were already there.”
Further, research has shown that theater programs can also be a great way for children with ASD to boost social skills, which are critical for thriving in a work environment later in life. Plus, theater involves acting out scenes that emulate real-world relationships and situations, as well as improvisation exercises. This combination helps individuals with autism to build more of a natural approach to socialization and rely less on “scripted” social responses. (Samantha’s neuro-inclusive theater group, EPIC Players has certainly helped her and fellow cast members to grow and thrive).
The National Autistic Society’s 2016 Employment Gap Report reveals that the employment rate of people with autism has stubbornly lingered around a low 15 or 16 percent over the past few years. There are tools, however, that can be used to help adults with ASD secure jobs. The Autism Work Skills Questionnaire (AWSQ) offers a way for adults on the spectrum to create a working profile of themselves to share with potential employers. A 2015 report found AWSQ to be a useful tool to match individuals with high-functioning autism with certain jobs that might be well-suited for their particular strengths and weaknesses.For adults with autism, finding a long-term career path can be a challenge, but it’s certainly not an impossibility. Developing work-friendly skillsets during childhood and taking advantage of the employment resources that exist for adults with autism are good places to start.
Post shared by: Action Behavior Centers