The Road to Jobs for Adults with Autism


MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Almost nine out of every ten autistic adults are either out of work or underemployed. Now, one man on the spectrum is making a difference for himself and others.

“Elementary, middle school, high school… it was very difficult for me to socialize,” explained Jairo Arana.

His own family was at a loss about what to do.

“There was a lot of bullying, there was a lot of making fun of, where he didn’t understand what was going on,” explained Jairo’s sister, Michelle Arana.

Long after his childhood, Jairo finally was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome.

Jairo shared, “It’s like I find out when I’m 40, it’s like why didn’t I find out before?”

Like most of his peers, Jairo wanted to work and be more independent, but he didn’t know where to start.

Deborah Chin, Manager, UM-NSU CARD said, “For them to make the most of their potential, they really need assistance from people that understand their unique challenges.”

Like the program card. It supports and trains adults with autism for jobs.

“Taught me how to seek for a job, taught me how to dress for a job, how to do an interview for a job. Workplace etiquette, behaviors, when it’s time to talk when it’s time not to talk,” said Jairo.

Jairo met Shelly Baer there. She developed Project Salt to advocate for people with disabilities.

“It stands for Self-Advocate Leadership Training,” said Shelly Bear, LCSW, Director, Leadership Training Initiatives with University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Mailman Center for Child Development.

Jairo learned how to stand up for himself and all people with disabilities. So, Shelly sent him to Capitol Hill as an advocate.

“I said he’s a leader, he’s a future emerging leader,” shared Shelly.

Jairo says the program has changed his life. And now he knows the path he must take.

“What I feel, what I want is people with autism to be given a chance, that’s what I would ask for is give us a chance,” said Jairo.

A chance Jairo didn’t think he’d have growing up.

There is also a push for employers to undergo training for employees with autism. The card program, which stands for the center for autism and related disabilities, is based in Florida. For more information on card, or a link to a national program for adults with autism, you can visit

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Producer; Jamie Koczan, Editor and Judy Reich, Videographer.

Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up:

REPORT #2489

BACKGROUND: Currently, autism affects 1 in 68 children. About 40 percent of children with autism do not speak, and about 25–30 percent of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Autism is a neurological developmental disability that generally appears before the age of 3 and impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. They often suffer from numerous medical conditions like allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, sensory integration dysfunction and more. Autism itself does not affect life expectancy; however, research has shown that the mortality risk among individuals with autism is twice as high as the general population. Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome.


ADULT AUTISM AND EMPLOYMENT: About 35 percent of young adults with autism, ages 19-23, have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school. Ann Cameron Williams, chief research and innovations officer with The Arc, a national organization of and for people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities, said, “We don’t have a choice of turning away. We have to employ these people.” One of the main challenges The Arc faces is educating employers about the benefits of hiring those on the autism spectrum, according to Williams. Besides advocating for those with autism disorders, The Arc and other national organizations have work-training and placement programs. One company that specializes in job placement for those on the spectrum is Nobis Works, a nonprofit organization based in Georgia. Becky Ketts, the director of rehabilitation services at Nobis Works, finds jobs for people on the autism spectrum while they go through the organization’s training program. These programs last anywhere from three months to a year, and teach everything from anger management to customer service. These “soft skills” are essential for success in the workplace, Ketts explains.

(Source: and

ON THE HORIZON: There is a free website called, TheSpectrumCareers, designed by and for job seekers with autism to connect with businesses that are looking to hire individuals on the spectrum. As of September, 2017, there are more than 200 companies from around the country who are posting open positions. Paul Shattuck, PhD, of Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis, says. “Many families of children with autism describe leaving high school as falling off a cliff because of the lack of services for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).” Research on autism treatment and support services has long focused on early childhood. Early intervention has great potential to improve outcomes, and school systems need to provide appropriate support services. Dr. Shattuck’s research focuses on determining the kinds of services that can best foster a successful transition into adulthood. He also highlights the need for a special focus on interventions that can help low-income youth overcome barriers to accessing services and achieving fuller participation in society.

(Source: and

* For More Information, Contact:

Deborah Chin, M.A.                                                    Kai Hill, Media Relations, University of Miami                                            

954-262-7776                                                              305-332-3189