When the Bureau of Labor Statistic estimated that more than half of all the jobs require some sort of technological skills, it emerged as a problem for people with autism spectrum disorder. Natalie feared that her students would be destined for either low-wage or menial positions, or worse still, get no jobs at all.
Natalie identified an opportunity in teaching through autism apps like “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences”. She started using project-based learning and technology to impart key technical skills and also foster abilities for analytical thinking, problem solving and independent living.
Natalie soon quit her job to develop a curriculum for teaching special needs children. She included the “Math on the Farm” and “Make Sentences” apps in the program. Initially it was focused only on autistic kids, but soon expanded to include special needs children and those with cognitive disabilities. The program has won acclaim from experts and special educators alike. It’s being extensively used in the Louisiana school district and in some other neighboring states.
Natalie’s program is just one of the ways by which organizations and individuals are working to lend autistic children a better scope to succeed later in life at the workplace with high-skill jobs. The efforts range from promoting technological education to companies broadening their outlook on how to hire neglected talent. These efforts help in dispelling the misconception that autistic children suffering from intellectual disabilities can’t be accommodated in a technological space.
The initiatives by people like Natalie address a genuine problem. The rate of unemployment for people with disabilities, according to US Labor Department, is almost twice compared to that of people without disabilities. For people with developmental and cognitive disabilities, like Down syndrome, chances of landing a job are much worse.
Most people want to get employed in a meaningful job. People with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorder are no different. Notwithstanding the millions of dollars being spent on technical and educational programs to reach better outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorder, the needle hasn’t moved much.