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ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin

February 19, 2013  



From the Editor:

Welcome to our February issue. After last issue's break from our usual format with the publication of the well-received arts issue, we are back to business as usual. The rest of the editorial staff and I are very excited to offer you this jam packed issue focusing on employment, particularly matters related to job matching and accommodations.


We have our usual three feature articles. First, Melanie Jordan of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) outlines the legal aspects of accommodations and the process of obtaining them. Next, Al Fitzgerald offers an employer's perspective on accommodating processing and communication differences by sharing his experience with one employee. Finally, Barbara Bissonnette of Forward Motion Coaching shares the story of one coaching client and her process of disclosure and requesting accommodations. These features are followed by an excerpt from a recent blog by AGI Young Leader, Jeremy Sicile-Kira in which he offers his perspective as a young man who types to communicate and outlines four needs related to addressing supports and improving employment outcomes for individuals with autism.


Our usual News Notes section also is back, albeit with more items than usual and a slightly different presentation. Given the wealth of timely and relevant noteworthy items, the Notes have been organized into categories for easier access. Items included cover topical items in Did You Know, resource reviews in Helpful Resources Concerning Job Matching and Accommodation, announcements of Online Learning Opportunities, and Upcoming Conference information.


And...do not miss our side bar inviting you to complete an online survey. Provide your input into the development of an Autism Jobs website. We appreciate your participation. 




Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW

Managing Editor


Workplace Accommodations:

Tips and Resources

By Melanie Jordan, BS, CESP


Finding the best job match is key to meaningful employment. But even good matches often include negotiated adjustments and accommodations - success involves fitting the job to the person as much as fitting the person to the job.


An accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done). The process applies to all facets of employment, from hiring to orientation and training to workplace events and activities. The purpose is to help a qualified individual with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, and enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Accommodations can include modification of work schedule or policy; physical changes to workspace; equipment and devices; job restructuring; adjustment of supervisory methods; and job coaching.[i]


The employment aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, Title I) state that employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability, as long as the accommodation does not pose an "undue hardship" to the employer. Factors considered under hardship include:

  • the nature and cost of the accommodation.
  • the resources and size of the business.
  • the type of business - composition, functions, workforce structure.
  • the impact the accommodation would have on the facility and business as a whole.[ii]

Reasonable accommodation does not require lowering performance standards or removing essential functions of the individual's job.


An employee can request an accommodation at any time[iii]. But what's the best way to ask for one?


To read the full article with references and links for more information, click here

Autism and Employment:

How Even Small Companies Can Successfully Employee Staff with Autism

By Albert Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO of Visions Publishing, Inc.


Adults on the autism spectrum face a challenging transition into adulthood. Let's face it. In order to succeed as an adult, there really are only two critical elements - being able to support oneself financially in order to live independently and being able to establish nurturing, meaningful relationships.


I will focus my comments on the former - being able to support oneself as an adult. Many adults on the autism spectrum are highly intelligent. They are detail oriented. They follow directions to the letter. They are loyal to companies and can make excellent employees. Then why is it so typical that adults - especially young adults - with autism are either unemployed or underemployed?


In Employment, Perceptions Are Reality


A lot has to do with how adults with autism are perceived by current or prospective employers. Those with autism typically have challenges in communication and have weak social skills. For example, let us talk about an accountant. Being technically competent is not sufficient to keep a job if you cannot deal with your co-workers. You may be the brightest accountant in the city but if you come across to a prospective client as "clueless," your expertise never shows.


But why do adults with autism oftentimes come across as unknowledgeable? Why do they seem to be day dreaming or uncooperative when just the opposite is true? A lot has to do with their inability to interact with others - especially in the area of passive listening.

To read the full article, click here.

Making Employment Work

By Barbara Bissonnette, CEC


Early diagnosis and services beginning in grade school mean that employment is a possibility for more and more people with autism. However, even those who earn college degrees or complete vocational training programs struggle to find jobs that are manageable. Some individuals are stunned to fail at entry-level jobs that should have been "easy" given their academic achievements. Others pursue education or receive training related to an interest, only to discover that they are not suited to jobs in the field. Still others do not receive effective accommodations for communication, visual strategies, or social interaction.


Finding the right job match requires patience and a pragmatic approach. Intellect alone is not a predictor of vocational success (or failure). Special interests do not always lead to gainful employment. Although generalizations can be made about the best and worst types of jobs and work environments, one must always consider the impact of autism on a specific individual.


Some of my coaching clients believe that they are unqualified for any job calling for good people skills and the ability to multitask; removing themselves from the labor pool. However, these general terms can mean very different things depending on an industry, job function, and company. More often, an understanding supervisor, job tasks that emphasize abilities, and workplace accommodations are the best indicators of vocational success.


To read the rest of the article and learn about the successful experience of one of Barbara's client's, click here.

**** COMMENTARY **** 

A Closer Look at Employment

A Blog by AGI Young Leader and UN Youth Delegate, Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Extracted February 1, 2013


I truly believe that my autism is both a challenge and a strength in my life particularly, the issue of being able to earn a living. Unemployment rates are frankly high for people in general, but studies in the US show it is greatly higher for those with autism...There are as well, many people with autism who are unemployed or underemployed. I am using the opportunity of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities to explain to you a little bit about autism, some of the challenges we face in getting jobs and some solutions that are currently being tried...


There are four areas to consider when looking at ways to decrease the unemployment rate for those on the autism spectrum: first, people with autism need to be taught life skills and work skills earlier in life... Secondly, employers need to become aware of the skills that individuals with autism have that could benefit their company, and realize that accommodations can be made to allow an autistic person to be successful... Thirdly, it is extremely important for government agencies such as the Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies to be better at assessing those with autism and to adequately match them to better jobs. Among the challenges that people with autism face include the inability of those working at the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation  to understand the challenges and the strengths of those [with] autism... Fourth, job coaches really need to be trained in ways of coaching an autistic person while putting accommodations into place, so that the employee with autism can be successful...


To read Jeremy's full January 15 blog, go to jeremysicilekira.com.  

**** NEWS NOTES ****

Increase in Disability Cases Means HR Must Focus on Accommodations, Job Descriptions

As posted in the October 2012 EARN Newsletter; extracted January 16, 2013


With the increase in employees filing disability claims and the fact that more medical conditions are now covered under the amended Americans with Disabilities Act, human resources practitioners must increase their efforts to update job descriptions and work with managers on addressing requests for reasonable accommodations. Managers must periodically be reminded to respond appropriately when it appears that an employee might need an accommodation - regardless of whether he or she uses the legal language when making a request. In addition, job descriptions should be updated to reflect the essential functions of each position. Judy Young, assistant director of training and development at the ILR school's Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University, suggested that employers "revisit" job descriptions, based on the ADAAA, "and determine what essential functions of the job are, including hours of work and where the job needs to be done. It's about flexibility."


For more info about EARN, in general, visit www.askearn.org or go directly to "Interviewing Candidates with Disabilities" at www.askearn.org/refdesk/Recruitment/interviewing for information and helpful hints plus additional links to tips for


To learn more about Cornell University's ILR Employment and Disability Institute, go to www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/about.cfm

Department of Labor (DOL) Calls for Businesses to Have Written Accommodation Procedures


Publication of final regulations governing affirmative action for veterans and persons with disabilities is anticipated April 2013. The reforms are intended to strengthen affirmative action requirements for federal contractors/subcontractors. Some of the new elements of these proposed requirements include the development of detailed written accommodation procedures as part of the Affirmative Action Plan and invitation for applicants to self-identify as a protected veteran and/or an individual with a disability. 


For more information, see the Department of Labor's fall 2012 Regulatory Agenda for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/RegulatoryAgenda.htm.

Best Jobs for the Disabled

By Kyle Kensing

As posted on CareerCast; extracted January 24, 2013


Healthcare's growing importance in the American economy has particular impact for job seekers with disabilities. Organizations specializing in job placement for the disabled find that healthcare employers offer unrivaled access to careers at a better rate than for any other industry in the nation.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that unemployment for Americans with disabilities is 12.9%, which is more than 5% higher than the national average and a 3.6% increase since the onset of the recession in 2008. However, healthcare job growth has risen steadily even during times of economic tumult. The sector is expected to increase by 5.6 million jobs within the next eight years, creating many available positions for candidates with disabilities.


To read the full article, go to www.careercast.com/jobs-rated/best-jobs-disabled.


Note: CareerCast is an online national job search service. It includes features allowing individuals to complete general job searches, searches by industry, and specialized searches in areas such as green jobs, health care jobs, and diversity jobs. Additional services include resume posting, job search tools, and other information to guide the job search. For more information, go to www.careercast.com

The Complete Guide to Getting a Job Now Available

A new book, The Complete Guide to Getting a Job for People with Asperger's Syndrome: Find the Right Career and Get Hired, by one of our featured contributors and employment coach, Barbara Bissonnette, describes important aspects necessary for getting hired and includes strategies for addressing them. As noted at jkp.com, "[e]very aspect of finding employment is covered, from defining strengths and researching occupations, to marketing oneself and projecting confidence and enthusiasm in interviews. Job-hunters are taught how to develop a personal profile of their talents and skills, their ideal work environment, and important work criteria. They are then shown how to set realistic goals and develop an effective job search plan. There is detailed instruction on networking, including how to find contacts and what to say." Includes checklists, templates, sample scripts, and written communications to guide the process. The content is appropriate for individuals just entering the workforce as well as those having difficulty maintaining employment or needing to change careers. It is suitable for use with individuals by job coaches and other mentors. The book is available through Jessica Kingsley Publishers or at amazon.com.


New Book on Hidden Curriculum and Employment Released

Authors Judy Endow, MSW, Malcolm Mayfield, and Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D. have collaborated to create a new book entitled The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment, A Guide for Individuals With Autism Spectrum and Other Social-Cognitive Challenges.

This new and exciting work focuses on hidden curriculum issues as they relate to getting a job, finding a mentor, networking, using agencies, interviewing, talking with supervisors, dealing with on-the-job frustrations, understanding social rules at work, and many other topics. The content assists job seekers by explaining the meaning behind common job-related experiences and expectations across aspects of the employment process. The information is supported by examples and specific strategies for applying the information shared. The authors include two individuals on the spectrum who have extensive experience in helping others become employed. The book is available through AAPC
Assistive Technology Portal Available

A web portal, 
[AT] Connects,
now is available for businesses and other employers as well as employment support professionals and families or individuals. The portal provides access to a wide variety of assistive technology resources including information, guidance, and access to AT programs.

For more information about the portal, go to www.atconnects.com/about-us/about-at-connects.


Find information specific to businesses and employers at http://www.atconnects.com/resources/at-for-employers.

Pathways to Employment Videos


Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (ADDPC) has developed an online portal to videos featuring employees (including a now business owner) and employers discussing experiences relative to training and accommodations. Employment Video: Outback Steakhouse features employers and employees discussing aspects of employment for those with autism. The videos are accompanied by a link to a "Disability Media: Employment" page that highlights a resource-of-the-month.

The videos can be viewed at https://www.azdes.gov/ADDPC/DD_Detail.aspx?id=9872.

NPR: Jobs for the Autistic


Tom Ashbrook host of On Point conducts a panel interview/discussion with Gareth Cook, a columnist for the Boston Globe; Thorkil Sonne, CEO and Founder of Specialisterne; Randy Lewis, Walgreens Senior Vice-President of Distributions; and Leslie Long, Autism Speaks (AS) Director of Adult Services. Aspects of good matches within employment are highlighted, including an explanation of the origins and approach of Specialisterne. Concepts discussed include the notion of challenges as strengths (e.g. being detail-oriented as a job asset) and recognition of the value of specialization (i.e. narrow range of interests/skills) in a technical economy.

Listen to the broadcast online at onpoint.wbur.org/2012/12/03/jobs-for-the-autistic
EARN 2013 FREE Webinar Series Begins

On February 28, 2013 at 2:00 PM EST, the 1-hour Build the Pipeline: Effective Disability Outreach & Recruitment will address business concerns for increasing hiring and retention of people with disabilities. The webcast will focus on building relationships with academic and community organizations, strategies for developing specific talent sourcing, and the value of establishing and maintaining formal tracking and reporting procedures. HRCI credits will be available to webinar participants.


To register for this webinar, go to www.askearn.org/webinar_registration.cfm.


For more information about EARN and its resources, visit www.askEARN.org.

Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University - Southeast 2013 Webinar Series for Business


The Burton Blatt Institute-Southeast (Southeast ADA Center and Southeast TACE - Region IV) is sponsoring a Webinar Series for Business that will focus on practices that advance disability inclusion within business and knowledge of regulations and trends under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In these webinars, leaders in the field share experiences, successes, and practical methods for promoting an inclusive workplace and the successful recruitment, hiring, and retention of individuals with disabilities.


The FREE webinar Building Inclusion through Creative Hiring & Collaboration will take place on Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 2:00 pm - 3:00 PM EST.  Registration can be completed by clicking on this link: http://adasoutheast.org/webinars/eventTemplate.php?eventid=535.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Announces Employer Webcast Series

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is offering a three-part webcast series in 2013 geared to help individuals in the workforce, management, and other employees address disability etiquette, assistive technologies, management techniques, and the latest on accommodations and the employment provisions of the Rehabilitation Act.


On May 14, 2013, JAN will be offering a FREE special webcast entitled JAN Webcast: Learn More About Accommodations for Executive Functioning. This 1.5 hour webcast will begin at 2:00 PM EST. Those interested must register to attend through the following link: www.askjan.org/webcast/index.htm.
Upcoming Online Courses Offered through VCU-RRTC

The VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (VCU-RRTC) offers online courses addressing a variety of important employment issues. CEUs and CRCs are available for all courses. Courses of particular interest to readers are listed below along with links for further information.


Customized Employment - begins March 4, 2013

The course will outline the evidence-based process of individualizing employment for mutual benefit to the employee and employer.For more information and to register, go to: http://www.worksupport.com/training/webcourses/ce.cfm.


Into Adulthood: Transition to Work for Individuals with Autism - begins March 18, 2013

To learn more about this course and to register, visit: http://www.worksupport.com/training/webcourses/autism.cfm.


Customized Supported Self-Employment - begins May 6, 2013

Learn about using customized approaches to employment to support self-employment ventures. For more information and to register, go to: http://www.worksupport.com/training/webcourses/self_employment.cfm.

24th Annual APSE National Conference - June 24-27, 2013

Race to Success - Employment Comes in First!


The APSE conference focuses exclusively on employment of people with disabilities in the community. This year's conference will feature a wide array of high quality breakout sessions on the latest innovations in employment of people with disabilities including sessions on State-of-the-Art Practices in Integrated Employment; Transition from School to Adult Life; Public Policy and Funding; Leadership and Personal Development; Consumer, Family and Self-Advocacy. The conference will take place at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis, IN. Those interested can get more information and register by going to http://www.apse.org/conference/.

For more information about APSE and its work to advance Employment First, visit www.apse.org.

Volume 10   


"Reaching out, 

teaching from life experience."
In This Issue
Requesting Workplace Accommodations: Tips and Resources
Autism and Employment: How Even Small Companies Can Employ Staff with Autism
Making Employment Work
Blog Excerpt: A Closer Look at Employment
Increase in Disability Cases Means HR Must Focus on Accommodations
DOL Calls for Written Accommodation Procedures
Best Jobs for the Disabled
The Complete Guide to Getting a Job
New Book on Hidden Curriculum and Employment
Assistive Technology Portal Available
Pathways to Employment Videos
NPR: Jobs for the Autistic
EARN 2013 FREE Webinar Series Begins
Burton Blett FREE 2013 Webinar Series for Business
JAN Announces FREE Employer Webcast Series
Online Courses through VCU-RRTC
APSE Conference: Race to Success - Employment Comes in First
SIDEBAR: Autism Jobs Survey


The ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin

Editorial Staff


Val profile


Valerie Paradiz, PhD


ARI Director of Special Projects

Director of the Autistic Global Initiative




 Janine M. Collins, MTS, MSW

Managing Editor

Participant in the

Autistic Global Initiative 





Andrew Nelson 

Associate Editor





We Want to Hear From You!  


If you would like to submit an article or a letter to the editor to be considered for publication in the ARI Adults with ASD eBulletin, please email us for submission guidelines at




Your feedback and ideas mean a lot to us, as we endeavor to provide you with a balanced resource on the latest events, news and research that concerns adults on the autism spectrum and those who support them.



Tell us what you think:


Later this year, ARI will launch a new initiative as part of our ongoing commitment to individuals on the spectrum of all ages. We are building Autism Jobs - a new resource focused on employment and transition - and we need your input. Take our brief survey and tell us what you would like to see. Take the Autism Jobs Survey.  



 Autistic Global Initiative



To foster the development of adults on the autism spectrum and those who work with and for them.




We balance the work of reaching out for our own needs with the work of educating others, thereby expanding awareness about adult concerns. This work builds bridges among service providers, families and individuals within the autism community. We embrace the diverse perspectives of one another, while incorporating participation across varied modes of expression. In this way, the Autistic Global Initiative serves as a model of the inclusion for which we advocate. 



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This eBulletin at times will contain commentary from contributor(s) on a topic related to the featured subject of a given issue. ARI, nor AGI as one of its programs, necessarily agrees with or endorses the specific opinion(s) expressed. Commentary is included with the intent of supporting informed choice and decision-making. 

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