Studies have shown that between 76 and 90 per cent of adults with autism are unemployed. This is one of the many reasons why World Autism Awareness Day was declared by the UN General Assembly as an annual day to draw attention to the urgent needs of people with autism around the world.
Autism is a complex disorder that affects the brain. It impairs an individual’s social and communication abilities and often causes them to display unusual or repetitive behaviours.
Today 1 in 150 children are diagnosed with autism – totalling around 3.3 million people in the European Union. In most regions of Europe, these children grow up to face widespread unemployment and little or no support as adults.
Autism can certainly affect a person’s ability to interact in the workplace, yet the biggest barriers to employment that they face are a lack of support to find and maintain a job, and social stigma about their autism.
Throughout Europe and around the world, innovative companies are now beginning to employ the unique strengths of people with autism to help them achieve their goals. Providing people with autism the right support enables them, and the businesses they work for, to succeed.
Employment is more than just a job for people with autism – it enables them to live more fulfilling and independent lives. Companies around the world are also realising that employing people with autism goes beyond philanthropy and corporate social responsibility; utilising their skills and creating a more diverse workforce can help companies succeed, benefiting everyone involved.
This year, Europeans will join others around the world in calling for increased employment opportunities for people with autism throughout the month of April. In addition, in cities across Europe many prominent buildings will be lit up in blue on the night of April 2, as part of the ‘Light It Up Blue’ initiative for World Autism Awareness Day.