April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day, marking the beginning of Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month which JVS Toronto proudly celebrates.
Job seekers with ASD face a number of challenges when looking for meaningful employment ranging from difficulties in social settings and sensory issues to a lack of employers who understand and are willing to work with them to ensure mutual success in the workplace. These factors, and others, restrict an individual’s ability to find and maintain employment. And with the employment rate for individuals with ASD aged 20-64 years at only 33% in 2017, there is a great need for proper support.
These individuals demonstrate motivation and capabilities to work, but a common theme JVS Toronto has observed in our experience working with this population is a lack of available support to help them achieve their employment goals.
Why is this kind of support important?
For individuals with ASD, finding meaningful work can provide numerous benefits to leading a more fulfilling life:
- Individuals with ASD are at a higher risk of social isolation, which can lead to negative mental health outcomes. Employment can help individuals with ASD develop a sense of belonging and connection to others, reducing the risk of social isolation.
- Employment provides them with the chance to interact with others in a structured environment, improve social skills and learn how to communicate effectively with co-workers and supervisors.
- Increased independence and self-sufficiency can help them gain a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and give them the opportunity to contribute to society.
- Employment provides individuals with ASD with financial stability, which can lead to improved quality of life. It can help them become more self-sufficient and reduce their reliance on government programs and social services.
Since JVS Toronto opened its doors in 1947, we have strived to empower individuals from all walks of life in the Greater Toronto Area to maximize their employment potential. In line with this goal, JVS Toronto has been delivering the ASD Job Readiness Project since 2010 for individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis that are seeking employment.
JVS Toronto understands how accessibility, communication and social difficulties interfere with the ability of individuals with disabilities to find and retain work. Incorporating extensive job retention strategies and increased employer involvement in programming helps address the more intensive needs of these clients.
What is the ASD Job Readiness Program?
The ASD Job Readiness Project is a 6-month program which serves young adults between 18-30 years of age who have little or no experience in the labour market. Through one-on-one employment counselling, specialized workshops and on-the-job coaching, our highly specialized employment experts help them prepare for, secure and retain employment.
Through the ASD Job Readiness Project, participants develop communication skills, teamwork, literacy and numeracy, computer skills and self-advocacy, among other critical skills. Our participants have shared feeling much more confident about succeeding in their employment goals after completing the program. They are able to develop a better understanding of their marketable skills and abilities in relation to the current labour market.
Last year, JVS Toronto served 173 individuals through specialized employment and inclusion programs for people with a variety of disabilities. Learn more about these services and the ASD Job Readiness Project today.