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Steps Toward Success: Preparing individuals with ASD for the workplace

2 Steps Toward Success: Preparing individuals with ASD for the workplace
Expert Name: Karen Chung,
Expert Title: CEO & Founder
Company Name: Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Karen is the CEO and Founder of Special Learning. She graduated from Kellog and was introduced to the ABA field and ancillary therapies over a decade ago.

It became her life’s passion to share knowledge of these evidence-based therapies to the global community who either work or have a child/adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or a related disorder. She has become one of the thought-leaders in this space and is achieving her goal through the works of Special Learning, Inc.

Steps Toward Success: Preparing individuals with ASD for the workplace

More and more in the news, whether on the front pages of traditional media or newsfeeds of social media, we often see stories on “autism in the workplace” or companies sharing their success stories of employing those on the autism spectrum. While the uptick in awareness is most likely appreciated by the autism community as it brings to the forefront this increasingly pressing issue, at best, we have only seen incremental improvements overall.

Ultimately, this is a systemic issue that is far beyond the power of any single organization to affect overall change. A critical element is to get buy-in from influential key stakeholders committed to helping the community resolve this global problem. 

As of now, the challenges of placing individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities into the job market are great – but it’s not insurmountable.  As professionals, who work with and provide care to those with autism, it is now more important than ever to focus on changing the mindset of those in corporate to one that embraces and welcomes this challenge as part of their global workforce diversity initiatives.

Approached in a systematic manner, designed to generate positive outcomes, both private and public sector employers stand to realize not only significant economic benefits but also an opportunity to leave an imprint and lasting legacy of their contribution to society. 

There is one good thing about this challenge: Not only is giving this group of vocation seeking individuals a greater chance to find fulfilling employment good for the individual and the community, it’s good for the business, too. In fact, Autism Speaks found 92 percent of Americans view companies hiring people with disabilities more favorably than those companies that do not. Showing that the business cares not only about the bottom line but also about the success and happiness of individuals within the community. Companies can cash in on the feel-good factor from the public.

This creates a win-win situation for companies and for those with autism looking to enter the workforce. As Elizabeth Preston so eloquently said in Spectrum, “…unemployed and underemployed adults with autism represent not just a societal problem, but an untapped labor force with unique potential.”

In hopes of better preparing you to train the next autistic individual for the workforce, we present a job skill matrix that matches possible jobs to attributes that are required to successfully carry them out. We’ve specifically included a description of some of the special skills those with ASD would bring to the table.

Please see attached matrix.

These days, most hiring managers are looking for a few key traits in potential workers: someone who shows up, every day, on time, ready to work; someone who follows directions; someone who takes the job seriously; and someone who believes in the work that they do. Now, while that may seem like a tall order to some, it is definitely achievable.

An added benefit of hiring someone with autism is the potential to cut down on workforce gossip. Employees with autism will likely have little to no interest in engaging in the social dramas of other employees. Rather, they will be more inclined to focusing on their work and meeting requirements, whereas other employees often engage in off-task behaviors by engaging in office gossip or drama.  Considering candidates with autism for specific positions, not because one feels sorry for them or to meet corporate diversity goals, but taking the time to learn about the unique skills and characteristics that people with autism possess that makes them exceptional candidate for jobs, is the right way for employers to approach this opportunity.

Given the shortage of qualified workers in the marketplace, finding a pool of potential hires – those who are thankful for opportunities and motivated to do everything in their power to please – will give employers, that recognize individuals with ASD are valuable corporate assets, a competitive advantage.


Level 2 ABA Online Training Course (Autism Intermediate)

Build Your Own CE Library – Gianna Apicella (20 CEs)


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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