There is always great attention towards the topic of children with autism. Yet, there is also much less awareness when it comes to the same topic with adults. Children with autism eventually grow up and enter adulthood, hence, as parents, caregivers and even educators, it is important to be equipped with informed choices about their future aspects. Through the transition from childhood, adolescence to eventually adulthood, there are essential decisions to make, such as the path to eventual employment or to decide on available support centres for individuals with autism. Thus, this article aims to shed light on the possible options for them, such as employment and also a better understanding of alternatives such as available support centres.
Individuals with autism can have the ability and desire to work within society. There are different types of work that they can do, and they might even do a better job than a typical adult. According to the Autism Resource Centre (ARC), here are some of the areas they can work in:
Tasks where attention to detail and accuracy is needed (e.g. research work, data entry, word processing)
Tasks where there is a clear procedure to follow (e.g. sorting incoming and outgoing mails, filing, archiving, library work, baking, or packing)
Highly structured tasks with a right and a wrong way of doing something (e.g. software testing, data entry)
Tasks involving numbers and facts (e.g. cashiering, maintaining accounting ledger, cataloging)
With the above mentioned job scopes, there is definitely an open employment market for individuals with autism even though they may still be faced with challenges in successful employment. Opportunities should be available to them as they are also valuable members of society. Giving them the right and chance to be employed would allow them to support themselves and improve the quality of their lives by growing, learning and using functional skills. In addition, to show support and encourage individuals with disabilities to have perseverance and resilience in achieving their full potential in life, the SkillsFuture Study Award, aimed in helping them receive some monetary aid in taking up useful courses, is dedicated to them. Its objective is to deepen the individual’s skill set in the workforce and provide valuable opportunities for them to upgrade themselves. This could motivate individuals with autism to strive for a better future and continue to work hard in the workforce. In Singapore, there are several organizations that provide vocational training and support for individuals with autism when they are at the appropriate age to enter the workforce. For example, organizations such as Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), SG Enable, and Employability & Employment Centre (E2C) provide a holistic approach that allows individuals with autism to learn skills required for the job role, get assessed by professionals before employment placements, and also aid in support even after successfully getting employed. With proper on-the-job training, assessments, and placements, they can integrate and contribute to society productively. Such organizations also have to work with employers who are willing to hire individuals with autism in order to provide employment opportunities. There are many employers in Singapore who are accepting and understanding of how difficult employment can be for individuals with autism. Some examples are employers like Uniqlo, National Library Board, Grab, UOB, and Starbucks. Job roles that include packing, sorting, filing, taking orders, and cleaning are commonly appointed to individuals with autism. The industries that they can seek employment from are also well-diversified; from retail, to food and beverage and admin jobs, etcetera. To encourage employers to hire individuals with autism, there are many government support schemes available. For example, the Open Door Programme (ODP) scheme. Under the ODP, employers can apply for grants and employment services to hire, train and integrate individuals with disabilities such as autism. This includes Job Redesign Grant, Training Grant, and Recruitment, Job Placement and Job Support Services. Also, there is the Special Employment Credit (SEC) scheme where employers can receive a SEC to offset up to 16% of the wages of employees who have disabilities, capped at $240. These schemes are useful in motivating and encouraging employers to provide employment opportunities for individuals with autism. If seeking employment for individuals with autism is not an option, there are other alternatives such as Day Activity Centres where adults from usually eighteen or nineteen years old can go to. At day activity centres, they will be able to learn self-help skills in the areas such as adaptive living, health and fitness, community living, recreation and vocational training. A few organizations that provide day activity centres are St. Andrew’s Autism Centre, Eden Centre for Adults, MINDS, and SPD. They provide help with gaining essential living skills to build capabilities towards independent and meaningful living for individuals with unique challenges. To conclude, there is support within the society to help older individuals with autism to integrate into the society, achieve their full potential and lead a meaningful life. There are different options to go about and I hope we will never stop believing in them! Written by Mabel.
References: Chen, J. L., Leader, G., Sung, C., & Leahy, M. (2014). Trends in Employment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Review of the Research Literature. doi: 10.1007/s40489-014-0041-6 Eden Centre for Adults. (2019, December 31). Retrieved from https://www.autismlinks.org.sg/programmes/ecfa Employability & Employment Centre. (2020, April 9). Retrieved from https://www.autism.org.sg/core-services/e2c#tab_e2cEmployers Get Trained. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://employment.sgenable.sg/jobseekers/get-trained/ Salim, Z. (2019, August 7). 7 S'pore Companies That Didn't Cripple The Disabled's Chances Of Finding A Job. Retrieved from https://vulcanpost.com/671599/singapore-companies-hire-persons-with-disabilities/