There’s a new frontier in diversity programs focused not on race or gender but on cognitive ability. An increasing number of companies are launching initiatives to find job candidates with autism. Unfortunately, People with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed as people without disabilities and in the case of neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism, the number may be far higher. Employers are now taking a second look at people with autism and seeing not deficits, but a pool of dormant talent.
Social difficulties are one of the hallmarks of autism, making it hard to make it through a traditional hiring process. Roughly 60% of people with autism have average or above average intelligence, yet 85% are unemployed. Employers are now trying to harness that talent by providing a more practical way of assessing a prospective employee’s skills rather than relying on a traditional job interview with requires social communication and eye contact.
Companies like Peak Peformance www.pptcenters.com train and help to place those with autism in the work force. They work in conjunction with employers to provide participants with the specific tools for success in the work force. Employers have also found that there is a lower turnover rate of employees in highly repetitive jobs when jobs are analyzed to properly place with individual talents.
People with autism bring unique strengths to the workforce. Supporting neurodiversity and hiring people with autism because of their differences and not in spite of them benefits both employer and employee.
So much is written on the mother-child bond, but what is a father’s role in this equation? Fathers are also essential to the healthy development of a child and have a great impact on the emotional and intellectual growth of the child. Father’s bring a different style to parenting to the family from communication styles to more active play and help to prepare our children for the reality of the world.
When a family has a special needs child, having two parents is even more essential as each partner looks to the other for support. Parenting stress can not only affect the psychological well being of an individual, but it can also affect the marital relationship between spouses. It is a sad reality that couples of children with special needs face a much higher divorce rate than the rest of the married population and it has been noted that more than 30 percent of fathers of special needs children experience symptoms of depression so severe that they warrant clinical attention.
Support groups provide a safe environment to bond and share experiences with others that are sharing your same struggle and while there are many support groups for mothers of special needs children, there is only a small number of support groups focused on fathers. Attending a support group or even starting your own can be an empowering tool to help fathers feel like they have a community of support and provide a source of strategizing and gaining support for challenges.
So what can we do to help our special needs children? Parents report feeling closer to their children when they focus on positive behaviors that their child engages in and providing positive reinforcement rather than focus on negative behaviors. These parents are often more likely to act in ways that encourage those positive behaviors to occur again. It is also important to remember that special needs children are beautifully unique and it is important to focus on your child’s strengths and positive behaviors and help to promote these qualities and strengths. So on Father’s Day, we want to say thank you to all of the fathers that hung in through the tough times and are still hanging in there….you are greatly appreciated.
You may feel frustrated right now that your child is not hitting the milestones that you see other children reaching. Will my child ever sleep through the night? Will my child ever speak? Will my child make connections with other peers? Rest assured that your child will not be the same down the road as he/she is today. Age two is vastly different from age 12 and age 12 is very different from 24.
We all grow and change with maturity and autism does not prevent a child from developing and changing over time; they simply may not do it as quickly as a neurotypical child. Autism involves several developmental delays; delay does not mean it will not happen but simply not on the “normal” developmental time frame.
Developmental delays in verbal communication can be especially frustrating. The National Center of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities states that 25 to 30 percent of children diagnosed with autism will speak some words by 12 to 18 months. However, those children may have a diminished capacity for, or lose the ability altogether, to communicate verbally. Nearly 40 percent of children diagnosed will never be able to speak at all. The remaining percentage of children may be able to communicate verbally at a much later age. Keep in mind that verbal challenges seen at age 3 will look very different at age 15 and will also look very different as an adult.
Connecting socially is also important and we want our children to connect with peers. Children with autism often times do not have the social skills to make connections and developmental delays can compound the problem. Children with autism are often socially and emotionally at a much younger age than their peers. At a young age this divide can be huge but as they age this gap gets smaller.
Be patient, being in the “waiting room” is never easy but continue to relish your child’s victories and continue to encourage and support them.