The Economist magazine and ASD

Beautiful minds, wasted

The Economist ran two articles about ASD this week and ASD captured the cover!

The first article is titled Beautiful minds, wasted: How not to squander the potential of autistic people (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21696944-how-not-squander-potential-autistic-people-beautiful-minds-wasted?zid=318&ah=ac379c09c1c3fb67e0e8fd1964d5247f)

The article highlights some poignant aspects of living on the spectrum.  Perhaps my favorite quote, “Autism is a condition that defies simple generalisations.  Except one: the potential of far too many autistic people is being squandered.”  They further note that globally, 80% of individuals with ASD are not employed.  (What?!  I know this statistic, but it hurts every time I read it!)

Many individuals with ASD struggle with confidence, particularly around interviewing.  The Economist suggests “replacing interview with tests of relevant skills = filing tests for filing jobs, coding tests for coding jobs, and so on.”  They add that environmental accommodations (clear instructions, written instructions, visual representation of expectations) are helpful for ALL employees, not just those with ASD.

The second, and longer, article is titled Spectrum Shift: Children in the rich world are far more likely to be diagnosed with autism than in the past.  Why is this and what can be done to help them lead fulfilling lives.” (http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21696928-children-rich-world-are-far-more-likely-be-diagnosed-autism-past-why?zid=318&ah=ac379c09c1c3fb67e0e8fd1964d5247f)

A few highlights:

  • “A recent study in South Korea is the world’s first to be based on an entire population of school-age children rather than a sample. Alarmingly, it finds that one child in 28 between the ages of seven and 12 has some degree of autism.”
  • “A survey by Britain’s National Autistic Society, a charity, suggests that only 12% of higher functioning autistic adults work full time. For those with more challenging forms of autism, only 2% have jobs.”
  • “Job training, life-skills coaching and psychotherapy could help. An American study found that 87% of autistic youngsters who were given assistance to find a job, got one.  Only 6% who did not receive support were successful.”
  • “But in most countries, services disappear the moment autistic people finish full-time education”

Please, read the articles.  If you have ASD, please call the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation or a similar organization and request assistance.  Get a job.  And if you are an employer, hire my clients!  My clients are remarkable individuals who can see solutions to problems that the rest of us could never imagine.  Trust me, you want that skill set on your team!



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