Students with autism navigate job hunt with help from campus groups

article from the Daily Tarheel by Tara Jeffries

Students with autism navigate job hunt with help from campus groups click to enlarge David Moser, TEACCH Autism Program Accounting Technician

For people with autism, the stress can linger long after the interview is over, as they grapple with hindered social skills that make the job-hunting process more difficult and hamper interactions in the workplace.

At TEACCH, a North Carolina-based autism advocacy organization, advocates are working to smooth the path from the interview to the water cooler — helping people with autism not only get jobs but keep them, too.

More than 85 percent of people in TEACCH’s supported employment program, founded in 1989, keep jobs for more than a year.

 

People on the autism spectrum often have excellent technical and academic skills but can have difficulties interpreting social cues, leading to issues in the workplace.

“It may be that a person with autism has the skills to do a particular job in a company but doesn’t know the social expectations,” said Laura Klinger, director of TEACCH.

“We have an outstanding ability to place individuals with autism in positions and then help them keep those positions.”

Interviews can be particularly challenging for job seekers on the autism spectrum, said Mike Chapman, director of supported employment services at TEACCH’s UNC center.

“In many ways it’s a personality contest, and sometimes people with autism have trouble selling themselves,” he said.

“It’s hard coming across in person as good as they do on paper.”

David Moser, a TEACCH accounting technician and a UNC graduate, knows the challenges of the autism spectrum firsthand — but he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 28. His parents saw an interview about autism on “20/20” that gave them some unexpected answers.

“My mom and dad looked at each other that night — luckily, they were watching — and they said, ‘That’s our son,’” Moser said.

Moser now works full time for TEACCH, where he said he gets the support he needs.

“I have an incredible array of support, as well as a really good job,” he said. “It’s just been a pleasure working here.” read full article