My 25 years old son is non-verbal. He uses his phone as his speech output device. He has worked hard to learn the software on his phone. This software speaks the words that he types into his device. He has used a variety of other speech output devices in the past. There are many more options for speech output devices available now. And, there are places like MassMatch (1 ) which can help each user to find the best choice.
When he was younger, family members and teachers would always be with him and speak for him. These days he still always with someone when he is out in the community. But, now, he is interested in speaking for himself. He also has the vocabulary and skills to speak for himself.
So, how does it go? Well, it depends… Let me describe a common situation that shows how much effort it takes for my son to communicate in public places. Ordering fast food or in a restaurant is something that we all do. For my son, it is a chore. He must get the waiter’s attention. Then, he will order his food. Most of the time, he needs to repeat his order. e needs to repeat it more than one time. If the waiter stops and listens, it is easier. but, most of the time, he needs to repeat his order.
Speaking in public is hard for many people. It is more difficult for someone who uses a speech output device. He shows us that many strangers do not choose to listen. Our public places, malls, restaurants, outdoor spaces are noisy. here is music, talking, traffic, and other sounds. My son cranks up the volume on his phone. On a good day, a stranger will listen to his computer voice. The pride my son takes in talking with someone is worth the effort. This photo shows my son speaking to us. You may be in a place where someone is trying to speak with a device. Please take the time to listen and respond. It only takes a little bit more time and the rewards are great.
Jobs. We each expect to find a job when we are adults. Some people know exactly what they
want to do for a job. Many people try different jobs to find one that fits. For my son with
Autism Spectrum Disorder, (or Autism), a job is more like a hope or idea. He is now an adult.
He has skills that would be useful in different work places. The challenge is to find a work
place that will even let him try to work.
Is he the only person with Autism who is not able to find a job? I wanted to find out. So, here
is what I learned about employment or jobs, for people with Autism. There are not a lot of
data on this topic. Data are collected for people with disabilities. But data are not often sorted by diagnosis.
This chart shows what I did learn about jobs for young adults with Autism. The chart shows
the employment rates for young adults who
have ever worked after high school. It specifies
rates by category. The rates are learning
disability, 95%, Speech/language impairment,
91%, Emotional disturbance, 91%, Intellectual
Disability, 74% and Autism, 58%. It confirms
that my son is not alone in being unemployed.
There are companies looking to hire. Dell EMC in Central Massachusetts is
one of them. According to an article in the Worcester Business Journal on May
15, 2017, Dell EMC will have a hiring program. This hiring program will work to bring more
people with Autism into the company. They want to hire people with Autism for their skills.
It is good to read about a company that wants to hire people with Autism. This company needs
very specific skills. We will keep working on developing my son’s skills that might be useful in
future jobs. We will talk with our friends and families about hiring people with Autism. We
hope that there is a work place that will welcome our son in the future.
There is an article that summarizes the existing research about hiring an adult with Autism. (1.)
This article surveyed all the published articles that considered the costs and benefits to society,
to the person with Autism and to the employer. The first finding is that there is not enough
research being done on the costs and benefits to employers. It did find some results showing
that it costs society less to have people with Autism employed rather than not employed.
There are indications that people with Autism are happier and busier if they have jobs. The
hope is that more research will be done in the future. This research may show that it is not too
costly to employ people with Autism. Then, maybe more companies would be willing to
interview, train and hire people with Autism. It would make the hope or dream of a job,
become a real job for my son and his peers.
- The Costs and Benefits of Employing an Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review
Andrew Jacob, Melissa Scott, Marita Falkmer, Torbjörn Falkmer
PLoS One. 2015; 10(10): e0139896. Published online 2015 Oct 7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139896
PMCID: PMC4596848 Article PubReader PDF–1.3MCitation