ASAT Responds to ABC News’ (AU), “Workers with Autism Recongnised for Unique Skill Set, ANZ Recruiting Nine New Employees”

March 5, 2018

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Dear Ms. Miller,

We at the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) would like to commend you for your article, “Workers with Autism Recognised for Unique Skill Set, ANZ Recruiting Nine New Employees.” You state that, in Australia, currently only about 40% of adults with autism are engaged in employment. It is important to raise awareness of the number of people with autism who require employment, especially considering the number of young people with autism who will transition out of school and into the workforce over the next decade. The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ), the third largest bank in Australia, is working to change this. We were excited to read about the efforts of Matt Ormiston, director of the ANZ Spectrum Program, to help Australian people with autism find meaningful and preferred employment. According to Mr. Ormiston, ANZ has a goal of employing 1000 people from underrepresented groups (including autism) by 2020. This is a commendable undertaking, and one that is worthy of widespread recognition.

Employment offers numerous benefits for people with autism (Scott et al., 2017). The financial gain afforded to an employee with autism may allow him or her more choice and control over important parts of his or her life, such as where to live and what recreational activities to participate in. Work may also offer people with autism structure and stability, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and more opportunities to build social connections. People with autism who are employed directly contribute to society and may be less reliant on government funding.

However, not all people with autism possess a high level of skill in a specific area (such as coding, as mentioned in the current article); many will need assistance to learn to complete even the most basic vocational tasks independently. In Australia, and worldwide, there are currently very few programs for adults with autism that specifically teach vocational skills and assist them to become job ready. In our view, this must change. It is important that more services be created to help people with autism enter the workforce. The Association for Science in Autism Treatment website has several resources that may help employers create meaningful employment opportunities for people with autism, including a review of Working in the Community: Guide for Employers of People with Autism and an article in our Clinical Corner on effectively preparing teens with autism for future employment.

We appreciate your efforts to shed light on innovative new programs designed to help people with autism enter the workforce, and we commend ANZ and Mr. Ormiston for creating more job opportunities for people with autism in Australia. In the future, it will be increasingly important for both services and employers to establish pathways to help people with autism gain the support and training necessary to find meaningful employment.

Sincerely,

Christopher E. Smith, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA

Erin Leif, PhD, BCBA-D

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

 

Reference

Scott, M., Jacob, A., Hendrie, D., Parsons, R., Girdler, S., Falkmer, T., & Falkmer, M. (2017).

Employers’ perception of the costs and the benefits of hiring individuals with

autism spectrum disorder in open employment in Australia. PLoS ONE12(5), 1-16.

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