Adults with Autism – an asset to any workplace!

Adults with autism have much to offer a workplace, and Autism New Zealand’s unique peer employment programme supports people with autism to find a job.

New Ministry of Social Development funding for a pilot programme in Auckland allows Autism New Zealand to offer crucial employment support to adults. Run by staff members who understand the challenges and opportunities autism can present, the programme focuses on pre-employment training and in-work support for the employee and the employer.

The employment rate for adults with a disability is 45%, while 72% of non-disabled adults are in work. (2013 Disability Survey, Statistics New Zealand.)

Chief Executive Dane Dougan is delighted that Autism New Zealand is again able to offer employment support. “Adults with autism are often very intelligent, skilled and talented. Sometimes we find that people lack confidence in their own abilities, or need coaching to work out which jobs will be right for them. Our aim is to provide a service where we can walk every step together alongside people with autism.”

“When companies like Microsoft lead the charge to employ adults with autism, the time is right to talk to companies about doing the same in New Zealand,” Dougan says.

Autism New Zealand staff have extensive experience working with people with autism; the service is specifically designed to provide people with autism with the time and support needed to find employment. Staff members also work with employers to provide information about autism, and about the specific support their new employee may require to succeed in the workplace.

The programme will be based in the Autism New Zealand Auckland branch.

For more information contact:
Karen Lonergan, Northern Region Hub Manager
09 846 0913 / 021 288 4762 

Programme Outline 

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects a person’s behaviour, communication, socialising and sensory experience of the world. In recent times, as awareness of autism has increased, more cases are diagnosed. Evidence suggests that the increase in diagnoses is occurring at all ages, including adulthood. This has lead to a greater number of people diagnosed with autism seeking to enter and maintain a position in the paid workforce.

As part of the Autism New Zealand strategy, we have identified the need to support individuals and provide them the best opportunity to participate in meaningful activity – with the end goal of supporting all who are able into paid employment. Adults with autism may present with a wide variety of complex issues; these need to be addressed carefully and sustainably.

For an adult with ASD, barriers to employment may include:

  • lack of job seeking skills
  • lack of awareness of own desirable skills and personal qualities
  • low self-esteem and negative self-image
  • unrealistic expectations of own level of functioning and job-readiness
  • co-morbid disorders and underlying mental health issues
  • geographical location and limited public transport options
  • lack of training in desired employment area
  • long-term unemployment, (difficulty in finding work increasing with age)
  • previous negative employment experience

Specialist pre-employment supports and on-going in-work support ensure people facing these particular barriers have the best chance of success

Employment Support Service Vision

The service will:

  • Provide autism-specific pre- and post- employment support to adults on the autism spectrum
  • Work in collaboration with agencies supporting clients on the autism spectrum into employment

This programme covers three areas Autism NZ believes are crucial to effective service delivery:

  1. Peer Support
  2. Identifying & Supporting Employers
  3. Collaboration with other supported employment agencies