Dr. James Loomis, Director of Adult Services at The Center for Children with Special Needs addressed employment challenges for young adults with Aspergers/Autism Spectrum Disorder at Kent Memorial Library in Suffield on February 25.
Dr. Loomis opened his presentation with the statement, “We have much more in common than we have that differentiates us.”
He explained that for those on the Autism Spectrum, a neurological difference exists that makes it difficult to communicate and socialize in the same way as neurotypicals. Due to the importance that our society gives to social interaction and motivation, instant communication and understanding a hidden agenda, those with autism struggle with picking up information in their environment and are quickly overwhelmed. This can lead to frustration, not knowing how to react, being misunderstood, and being marginalized.
Loomis and his staff work diligently to connect these young adults with employers, often coaching both employer and employee how to interact in a way that gets the job done. A commitment to understanding and making small shifts, or accommodations, for Autistic employees can make all the difference.
“Our Autistic population is struggling to find their place, to be accepted for who they are, and to fulfill their lives’ purpose,” said Partnering to Reach Aspirations President Caroline D’Otreppe. “Let’s keep in mind that these neighbors of ours have the same needs and aspirations as the rest of us, but to meet them they need opportunities to experience life outside the home, time to develop social skills in our community, and support to establish independence. This can be done with the help of caring mentors, job coaches, and creative employers.”
Dr. Loomis was third in a series of speakers on Autism and Employment sponsored by the Suffield-based PTRA. Upcoming speakers include author John Robison “Look Me In The Eye” and a group of young adults on the spectrum.
Please follow the Partnering To Reach Aspirations Facebook page for more information on dates and times.