As the number of youth diagnosed with autism increases across the nation, there is a growing interest in knowing about their employment experiences after high school. To explore this, we examined the findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2.
As Table 1 shows, over half of youth with autism worked at some point after leaving high school (67%). This figure was greater than for their peers with an intellectual disability (ID) (53%), although smaller compared with their peers with other disabilities (86%). When looking only at those employed at the time of the interview, however, the figures were smaller across all disability groups.
Youth with autism were more likely to work in office and administrative support (21%) compared to youth with ID (7%) and youth with other disabilities (8%). They were also less likely to work in the food industry (12%) or to do cleaning and maintenance (10%) compared to their peers with ID (20% and 19%).
Almost half of the youth with autism earned less than the federal minimum wage and reported that the majority of their co-workers were people with disabilities (42%). In addition, only about a third of youth with autism received paid vacation or sick leave (29%), and even less received health insurance (11%) or retirement benefits (10%). Despite these limitations, respondents indicated that work was an important positive experience: Over 85% of youth across the three disability groups reported liking their job very much or fairly well.
As the number of youth diagnosed with autism increases nationally, knowing more about their employment experiences after high school is an important first step toward improvement.
Migliore, Alberto and Zalewska, Agnieszka, "Data Note: What Are the Employment Experiences of Youth with Autism After High School?" (2012). Data Note Series, Institute for Community Inclusion. 49.