Article from the Calgary Herald

With public schools facing a 300-fold increase in students with autism, researchers are warning a lack of support for adolescents and young adults is making it harder than ever for graduates to find work.

With about one in every 65 Canadian kids in elementary now dealing with autism spectrum disorder, as compared to only one in every 2,000 two decades ago, experts say diminishing supports will cause a tidal wave of social problems.

“This is a very complex problem that affects many different departments across governments … but we are facing a tsunami of demands and we need better strategies,” said Carolyn Dudley, who helped author the report put out this week by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

Examining the employment outcomes of adults with autism spectrum disorder, the report cites this particular group as having some of the poorest job prospects with only about 12 per cent being employed, mostly in part-time, low-paying jobs, compared with those with other physical disabilities where nearly 50 per cent are employed.

A big part of the problem, researchers say, is the behavioural challenges and limited social skills that those with autism often struggle with and that employers often don’t want to deal with.

“It’s difficult to find a group that’s having a harder time within the Canadian labour market,” said Herb Emery, director of health policy at the U of C’s School of Public Policy.

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