Supporting Adults with Autism During Covid-19

Supporting Adults with Autism During Covid-19

27 August 2021

By Suzanne Eusman, Autism Plus

Working with adults with autism as a specialist in the employability sector has always been a little different, a challenge but also extremely rewarding. On a typical week our biggest challenge is helping our jobseekers have the confidence to sell themselves and getting employers to see the hidden abilities beyond the communication barrier.

Covid-19 has created a challenge for the employability sector that we have not experienced before. Supporting individuals to job search remotely, supporting them with their wellbeing without being able to see them in person and helping people deal with the day to day anxiety of the current situation.

Typically, adults with autism struggle with change, new situations and adapting to new ways of working so you would expect that the current situation would be a challenge for most of those that we support. However, whilst this is true for some, and this situation is causing some of our job seekers additional anxiety, most of them are actually OK.

Think about the current world, it’s less busy, no crowds, there is no demand on people to go out and socialise, supermarkets are structured and less people allowed in at once, everyone is keeping more than 2 metres away, no-one is touching you in passing, there is no pressure from jobcentre and no need to attend appointments.

The world is currently slightly more autistic friendly! All the things that our jobseekers struggle with, crowds, noise, lots of people, social demands, jobcentre demands – they have all stopped! As one of our jobseekers said, “This is the world adults with autism have been waiting for”.

When we are worrying and trying to put extra support in place, actually most of our jobseekers don’t want or need this at the moment. It would be easy for us to listen to this and reduce the support and focus on those that are struggling, however what we are very aware of is that this situation is temporary.

This situation will come to an end and whilst the world may remain slightly more autistic friendly, with social distancing in place for a while, there will be a need to engage in the world again. What we are very conscious of is how difficult adjusting back to “normal” life it will be for many of our jobseekers, and we know from experience that if we reduce support now we may struggle to re-engage these jobseekers again at all as they will hide away from the world and not want to re-engage. What we are doing is continuing support, spreading the support out, so instead of an hour or two in one go – having 10-minute catchups more often, checking in, still making plans and still preparing for the future.

We cannot fall into the trap of being complacent and assume everything will be okay, we need to prepare for the next challenge and ensuring that we keep engaging autistic jobseekers, keeping them motivated and ensuring that they are ready when the world does go back to “normal”. Keep in touch regularly, make plans, talk about the future and prepare jobseekers for what comes next. Keep them engaged but also be prepared to put in extra support once this is over to help get them back on track again.

Our team works across various programmes in the employability sector and support individuals at all levels of the Autism Spectrum, if you or your team are needing extra support for jobseekers with autism then do get in touch to find out how we can support you. We offer Autism Awareness training, workplace assessments, one to one support, job search support and in work support through Access to Work.

Get in touch to find out more or 07966571297

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