How to Choose an Autism Job Coach

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The great transition for thousands of autistic families is underway as teens on the spectrum age into young adulthood.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 50,000 adolescents on the autism spectrum will turn 18 this year alone.  This trend is expected to continue for the next decade leaving many parents to wonder about the next phase of life.  While college enrollment for autistic students is increasing, the actual employment rate for autistic adults is still rather dismal, at 20%.  Granted, the numbers related to jobs and autism are nothing to write home about, there are signs of encouragement.  Attitudes towards autism and disabilities in general, are changing as greater diversity is more prevalent throughout society.

For those young people who do not attend college, the work force is the usual option.  There are exceptions of course, as working in a family owned business or starting a business are viable alternatives.  Whatever the post high school years entail, at some point work will enter the picture and become an integral part of life.  In order to overcome the odds of not being a statistic, it is imperative to have a sound strategy regarding employment.  Some families are electing to utilize the services of a job coach in pursuit of gainful employment.  The purpose of this free report is to explore the role of autism job coaches and if this is the right choice for you or your young autistic adult.

The traditional service provider is the state Division of Rehabilitation Services which offers job placement assistance to people with disabilities.  These agencies do an admirable job, but there are limitations to relying on state services in the quest to realizing one’s full potential.  The sheer number of people with disabilities, in addition to autism, is simply overwhelming state agencies.  With limited financial resources, the reach of state agencies extends only so far.  Moreover, the number of disabled citizens is on the rise as a result of recreational accidents, sporting events, and traumatic brain injuries seen in veterans returning home from war.  There are a number of private services engaged in job placement activities for those with autism.  Having a concentrated marketing program is the key to success within the private sector as employers are accustomed to working with state employment agencies.

When selecting a private autism job placement service there are some essential elements to consider before entrusting your loved one to his or her professional care.  Listed below are ten absolutes to look for in an autism job coach.

1.  Ask for references from past clients.  Don’t assume someone with the title of vocational  specialist has a track record of successful job placements.  In addition, inquire about specific autism job placements and how having a job coach lead to a permanent job.

2.  Explore the person’s educational background in depth before declaring “You’re Hired.” Look for specific training related to autism such as a graduate certificate of training or a previous internship working in a therapy center.  Have the prospective coach elaborate on her skill level as it pertains to the job search process and ultimate placement.


3.  One of the most important questions to ask has to do with the person’s motivation for wanting to be an autism job coach.  Dig deep to understand the “why” behind this career decision.  Asking the right questions will quickly reveal who is working with the autistic population because they have a genuine love for the work, as opposed to someone doing it for misguided reasons.


4.  Find out if the individual has ever been disciplined for indiscretions or inappropriate conduct involving a client.  This is extremely important as job coaches spend a great deal of time with clients in one-on-one situations.  Make sure this person doesn’t have any skeletons in his or her closet that you should be aware of.  Be sure to do your due diligence.


  1. Does this person have an extensive network of employers with a history of hiring workers on the autism spectrum. Job placement, like sales, takes focus and contacting a lot of people to get the level of results desired.  In addition, building relationships is a crucial component of matching the right client with the right employer.  Look for people with a penchant for connecting with others within the business community.


  1. It is important to know if your future job coach has previous experience in working with autistic adults. There are a number of clinicians who stress ABA therapy with children on the spectrum, but may not be aware of the unique needs of autistic adults.  Discuss what specific steps were taken to prepare past clients for the interview process and what assistance can be offered to clients with communication challenges.


  1. Is the individual experienced in recommending the use of adaptive devices to enhance productivity? Find out under what circumstances she would feel comfortable suggesting adaptive equipment as the solution to a work related issue.  This is a matter worthy of serious consideration as costs of services may increase significantly when alternative methods are employed.


  1. Are they familiar with employer incentives such as tax credits for hiring people with disabilities? Have the person talk about previous experience in working with your state’s vocational rehabilitation office.  Trade-offs such as paid on the job training programs are used as motivation for employers to consider hiring employees lacking previous work experience.  You really want someone who is knowledgeable and demonstrates the ability to think outside the box.


  1. What does this person offer in terms of follow up once the client is settled into the job and working? Make sure the contract spells out specific duties relevant to following up with the client to resolve conflicts that may arise.  Additionally, set definite dates regarding the length of time follow up services should last.


  1. Compare service providers in your area who offer job placement assistance for autistic clients. Don’t look at price as the only determining factor for hiring a job coach, but take a comprehensive approach to ensure the best person for the job. Autistic adults have much more to offer society than they are often given credit for.  They need opportunities to contribute and supportive environments in order to be their very best.



Wishing You The Very Best



George D. Williams is the author of Who Will Care For Them – What the Future Holds for Millions of Autistic Adults.   He is the father of a young adult with autism and writes about a variety of topics confronting this growing segment of society.  To view more of his articles please visit:




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