An Autism Connection: Personal + Professional

Special Counsel gives back

See how a wonderful autistic child and a passion for legal staffing helped us collaborate with Autism Speaks and their new jobs portal.

By Stephanie Newman

I’m the proud mom of two boys and my little guys are crazy, funny and sweet. My oldest son has autism. He was diagnosed at age three and it’s been a roller coaster ever since. There are ups, downs and everything in between but his zest for life is the one constant. Very little in this world gets him down; he celebrates almost everything, including the seasons, random holidays and days of the week. At school, he’s known as “the mayor” because he is so friendly. He also memorizes conversation starters. Right now, he greets everyone with an enthusiastic “Happy Spring!” It’s hard not to smile when you hear this, and most people happily return the sentiment.

When my son turned 10, I started thinking more about his future. What will his prospects look like? There is so much uncertainty about his adult life. He has a lot of support right now as public schools offer special assistance to kids with autism and other disabilities but he’ll lose that structure as an adult. I worry whether he will go to college and have a meaningful and successful career. When I think about these things I find myself hoping. This gives me a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach because of a saying I’ve heard many times: “Hope is not a strategy.” I want to think beyond hope and create opportunities.

Staggering Unemployment

Most of us don’t think about whether or not we will have a career after high school or college. We think about what type of job or career we will have and, if we are lucky, we end up working for a great company that we love.

For individuals with autism and other disabilities, employment prospects are dismal. There are fewer job opportunities for individuals with disabilities and there is a severe disconnect between job seekers with autism and employers. Initially I didn’t fully understand how staggering the unemployment statistics truly are for these individuals. The fact is that the unemployment rate for adults with Autism is 85%! To put that in perspective, the overall unemployment rate is hovering around 5.5%.

Progress… and Reason for Optimism

Despite those statistics there has been progress. Corporate America is seeing the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes individuals with autism. In fact, progressive companies are starting to take real action. Earlier this month Microsoft introduced its Microsoft Pilot Program for Hiring Employees with Autism and SAP, a leading business software company, initiated an Autism at Work program in 2013 and has since hired 40 individuals with the condition.

Special Counsel Gives Back

Given my connection to autism, Special Counsel’s expertise in staffing and our commitment to the community through Special Counsel Gives Back I knew it was possible to support employment of individuals with autism. Earlier this year I reached out to Autism Speaks to discuss a potential collaboration between our organizations to help these adults find employment in the legal sector. They were thrilled to join forces and believe that Special Counsel’s expertise in staffing puts us in a powerful position to promote the hiring of individuals with autism.

Working Together

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Special Counsel is collaborating with Autism Speaks to promote a new jobs portal developed to connect autistic individuals to prospective employers. The portal is a trailblazing endeavor between Rangam Associates and Autism Speaks. What makes the portal even more amazing is the fact that it was designed and built by a Rangam employee who has autism! The capabilities of the platform are impressive. Employers can post job openings – even video job descriptions – to connect with new talent.

For many employers diversifying their workforce and hiring individuals with autism can be challenging; it can also be difficult to designate the necessary manpower and capital to these efforts. With this jobs portal employers can cost-effectively and efficiently put action behind their good intentions, and start reaping the benefits of hiring talented—and formerly overlooked—autistic professionals. The portal also offers support for employers that require guidance and training tools on successfully hiring and retaining employees with autism.

Special Counsel will reach out to our clients to introduce the jobs portal and we will also be taking advantage of this new resource for our own staff.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to use the portal. To register and post jobs, visit: hiring.thespectrumcareers.com.

 

Keep up with our cause!

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and use the hashtag #SCGivesBack!
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