Monday, 7 October 2013
A letter to the media about Asperger's Syndrome and the support that is needed to improve the employment rate of Aspies
My name is Ben Wilshire and I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I live in Orange NSW and have recently started a social group in my local community to lessen the isolation that many Adults feel, that are on the Autism Spectrum. The meetings are a great place for other adults on the spectrum to be themselves and talk about what is important to them and having people who can relate to the situations that they are going through. You can read more about
Garry Burge, who I often collaborate with, has suggested that I provide you with statistics on various areas which need to improve in relation to Adults on the autistic spectrum. I would like to cite my source as a study titled “We Belong” ( the full report can be found here: http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/images/Final_We_Belong.pdf) which was conducted by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), to better understand the experiences, needs and aspirations of people on the autism spectrum who do not have any intellectual impairment. A survey of people with Asperger’s or HFA and their families or carers found that more than 70 per cent of respondents are not receiving enough support to meet their needs in key life areas including social skills development, access to employment and community participation.
In stark contrast to the Australian employment rate of 95%, just 54% of adults in the study (excluding those in full-time education) had a paid job and the most common response to why they don’t have employment is because they need more support to look for work and apply for jobs. This is despite the fact that 80% of the adults have commenced or completed a tertiary qualification and have an average or above average IQ. Employment Service Providers have emphasised that ongoing support is as equally as important as help to enter the workforce. They have put particular emphasis on developing their social awareness and communication skills, as well as educating co-workers about autism.
With the right support from employment services and employers, and the two co-operating together, the rate of meaningful, paid employment for Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome will increase which will have many benefits including: a valuable contribution to the workplace by people with unique talent, a sense of being a productive member of society for the adults and a greater amount of independence and increased positive opportunities.
Thank-you for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to your article. I hope to hear from you soon.