This month's blog article was featured in the July 2024 issue of our digital newsletter, Aspire Wire. 

By Jack Lewis, MEd
Associate Manager, Employment Services

In the U.S., only 42% to 47% of autistic young adults are employed (Roux 2013, 2015; Shattuck 2012).  Autistic adults and families identify challenges to employment that include a lack of workplace support and understanding, a lack of workplace accommodations, and a significantly high cost to families that support adults who desire to be working (Hedley et al. 2017).  From my direct work with adults through the Aspire Internship Program, I see in their stories the meaningful impact of becoming employed and feeling valued by a company.  Many individuals share with me that it was finding a job that ultimately shifted their mental health into a space of wellness.  Aspire’s Internship program places adults into supportive workplace settings, where managers receive weekly coaching on best practices to support neurodivergent employees and interns receive weekly coaching and a skills-based seminar to support their performance, learning and growth.  To continue advancing the diversity, equity and inclusion of autistic adults into workplaces we need your help by becoming involved as an employer collaborator. 

Let’s start by considering the reasons to become involved as an employer collaborator.  Neurodiversity creates competitive advantages.  At the organizational level, businesses are increasingly understanding that differences with the ways in which employees use language, process information and think is a central component to what makes a workplace diverse (i.e., neurodiversity).  Neurodiversity is a part of workplace diversity, along with race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class and disability.  Workplaces are learning to see conditions such as autism and ADHD from a neurodiversity perspective that emphasizes unique strengths and talents these neurodivergent employees bring to a company.  At the team level, neurodiversity creates competitive advantages by tapping into intrinsic strengths of employees with neurodivergent minds with autism or ADHD.  Autistic individuals display the cognitive capacity to develop expertise in subject areas or heightened attention to detail; individuals with ADHD can show an enhanced capacity to generate multiple solutions to problems or divergent thinking.  Teams benefit from these differences and are more agile at solving problems by cultivating a diversity of minds.  At the individual level, neurodivergent candidates are applying for jobs at organizations that are looking to hire neurodivergent talent, creating a competitive advantage for the individual.

It is an outdated stereotype that neurodivergent adults on the spectrum are only a fit with coding and information technology roles.  Aspire’s collaboration with employers involve roles with graphic design, research, accounting, financial reporting, writing, animal care, real estate, politics, law offices and technology; and companies that range from Fortune 50 companies to small start-ups making bagels.  So, what can you do to help advance the diversity, equity and inclusion of autistic adults in the workplace?  Here are a variety of ideas you could consider:

  • If you work in an organization, consider bringing up at a team meeting or with a manager/supervisor—would our organization consider hosting a neurodivergent intern on the autism spectrum?
  • Contact your local state and federal representative and encourage them to host a neurodivergent intern on the spectrum
  • Ask your realtor, lawyer, town manager, principal, camp director if they would consider having a neurodivergent intern.

Everyone can be part of a collective change.  Email Aspire at and we would be happy to meet with you and any organizations that are interested in being part of this change. 


Hedley D, Uljarevic M, Cameron L, et al. (2017) Employment programmes and interventions targeting adults with autism spectrum disorder: systematic review. Autism 1: 13.

Roux AM, Shattuck PT, Cooper BP, Anderson KA, Wagner M, Narendorf SC. (2013).  Postsecondary employment experiences among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder.  Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2013; 52(9): 931-939.

Roux, A. M., Shattuck, P. T., Rast, J. E., Rava, J. A., & Anderson, K. A. (2015). National autism indicators report: Transition into young adulthood. Retrieved from:

Shattuck PT, Narendorf SC, Cooper B, et al. (2012) Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics 129: 1042–1049.