There’s a terrific internet advertisement making the rounds on social media these days. The video begins with the actor Idris Elba asking adults, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Each person Elba asks is noticeably flustered or amused. They don’t know how to answer a question that’s most often posed to children. By the end of the video, a woman confesses that she wants to be a soccer coach, a job which Elba quickly arranges for her to experience. The hashtag for the campaign is #ThriveOn.
The moral of the story: No matter who we are, we all want to thrive.
Our desire for meaningful work never ends, and it just takes someone asking the right question and offering the right opportunity. Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and they’ll tell you: A lawyer. A doctor. An engineer. The answer may vary, but all children hope and expect to have fulfilling careers when they become adults. The same is true for individuals with autism.
Every year, at least 50,000 children with autism will enter adulthood, according to Autism Speaks. The organization Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism estimates that 500,000 children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will become adults over the next 10 years.
Many employers are actively pursuing autistic workers and praising the boost that these individuals bring to their companies’ bottom lines. In a BBC article earlier this year, individuals with autism were touted as “loyal and diligent and are a lower turnover risk” by Tim Weiler, whose human-resources consulting firm in White Plains, New York hired 18 autistic individuals for a pilot program.
There are countless benefits to hiring autistic individuals, especially in customized positions that allow people on the spectrum to be successful.
Those positions could include jobs that require long periods of concentration, daily performance of repetitive tasks, or retention of large amounts of information. Individuals with autism often have a knack for detecting patterns, as well as strong mathematics skills. It’s no surprise that companies like Google and Microsoft hire autistic employees.
The reports about more companies hiring autistic workers is great news to the SAILS Group, which strives to help autistic individuals lead independent and integrated lives. With the right support, autistic employees are capable of being very successful in various work environments.
Take the success story of John Dary’s son Andrew Dary, who lives in South Florida, who wanted to create a company where his son could work, contribute, and be a successful member of the larger community. So he launched a car wash whose primary mission is to hire his son and other adults like him. The car wash model, as it turned out, was a perfect fit for his son’s strong work ethic and stellar attention to detail.
Employers can increase chances of an autistic employee’s success by 90 percent if they ensure that they’re appointing someone into a well-suited role. There’s also the option of hiring a coach to guide the ASD individual on the social aspects of the position, as well as educate the staff about the disorder and how to be sensitive to it before and after an autistic individual comes to work.
For companies, the ASD population represents a talented and enthusiastic workforce. Here’s to hoping that more companies will offer the right opportunities that allow ASD individuals to thrive on.