In Part 1 yesterday, we looked at an overview of what defines Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the dangers and previously worrying cases of misdiagnosis. Here we will look at the effects of ASD from a younger age into adulthood and the issues surrounding the workplace and its legalities.

Adolescence to adulthood with ASD

Older children (i.e. high school age) that may show interest in college or have the aptitude to handle college level work have difficulty with college experiences because special services do not carry over into college2. IDEIA covers children up to high school.

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Leaving the school system

When the child has graduated from high school and exits the public school system, special educational services terminate. There is no carry-over into secondary schools and college.

As a result, college bound people with ASD find social interaction and campus integration difficult2.

Attending college

People living with autism must seek special accommodation from the college (school department, individual professor, etc.) in order to receive the special educational needs to appropriately facilitate their learning and integration under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)2,4 of the United States.

College students with ASD must initiate the contact with the school’s disability office themselves and seek the accommodations they need themselves.

This task may be difficult for a person with ASD to seek out services such as peer-tutoring or test accommodation. It is even more difficult to try to find them on a large campus full of people and a variety of different buildings and landscapes.

Finding support in an overwhelming environment

All of this may be a lot of overwhelming sensory inputs2. Services such as providing a student peer teacher to help students with ASD in classes, campus integration and social interaction should be available to all college bound students with ASD.

Services should be directed at helping the student with ASD by teaching and helping develop cognitive processes necessary with goal-directed behaviors such as planning, initiating action, organizing thoughts and executing them to the proper personnel and departments of the college2.

Colleges and universities should be sensitive to the needs of these students and should be well funded to provide these services to these students to ensure their success in college integration.

Employment discrimination

living with autism_2People with ASD have the right and equal opportunities to work if they are able to.

Title 1 of the ADA prohibits employers to discriminate any individual that is capable of doing a job they are applying for.

This includes being hired, job promotion, on the job training, proper compensation for discharge of job duties, and other privileges that the job provides to that employee3.

Title 1 of the ADA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  In 1992 through 2003, the Virginia Commonwealth University with the permission of the EEOC obtained a copy of the Integrated Mission System(IMS) database3.

The IMS contained more than 2 million allegation records involving employment discrimination.

The EEOC ADA research project

It was developed to understand and identify the discrimination against people with ASD. The research project has found that people with ASD do not know they are being discriminated against3.

As a result, the employee did not fully understand the provisions of discrimination. Many cases did not get reported or the employee with ASD was unaware of their civil rights and how to exercise them3.

According to the report, the most common industry to have discrimination allegations was the retail and service industries3.

Job conditions and job preservation

The demographics in the report for employees with ASD that were discriminated against were white males approximately 36 years of age. Types of discrimination that were used against these employees with ASD were based on job conditions and job preservation3.

Job conditions include: benefits received (health insurance and pension), demotion, discipline, harassment, tenure, segregated facilities, maternity leave, union representation, and wages.

Job preservation includes: early retirement, constructive discharge, involuntary retirement, lay-off, reinstatement, severance pay and suspension3.

The areas of job conditions and preservation were the most common areas in which an employee with ASD made allegations of discrimination.

Suggestions from the report to rectify the discrimination of employees with ASD were:

– providing training to EEOC employees on how to identify discrimination of employers toward employees with ASD;

– train employees with ASD to recognize the signs of discrimination and teach them action plans on how to use the services of EEOC against workplace discrimination;

– to allow the EEOC to represent the employee with ASD in a discrimination case that will allow resolution and maintenance of employment3,4.

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References:

1. Barnard J, Harvey V, Potter D, Prior A. Ignored or Ineligible? The reality for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The National Autistic Society report for Autism Awareness week 2001.  2001. London, UK.

2. Adreon D, Durocher JS. Evaluating the College Transition Needs of Individuals with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic: 2007; 42: 271-279

3. Van Wieren AT, Reid CA, McMahon BT. Workplace discrimination and autism spectrum disorders: The National EEOC Americans with Disabilities Act Research project. Work: 2008;  31: 299-308

4. Fleischer DJ, Zames F. The Disability Rights Movement: from charity to confrontation. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, PA. 2001

5. Olmstead D. Weekly Wrap: No, Adam Lanza Did Not Have Asperger’s.  Age of Autism. 2014. Accessed on 5/28/2014

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