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Advocates set ambitious goal for jobs for adults with autism

Karen Woolstrum

The Autism Alliance of Michigan is setting an ambitious 10-year goal: for Michigan to be the first state in the nation to employ adults with autism at the same rate as neurotypical workers.

Alliance President Colleen Allen says that would mean placing roughly 101,000 people on the autism spectrum in jobs. She says reaching the goal will require the involvement of state agencies, the public education system, as well as employers.

"This will be our outreach to employers large and small to open their doors to expand the definition of diversity, equity, and inclusion to also mean ability," says Allen. 

She says better training of people with autism for employment will create the supply, but companies will have to create the demand.

"And the recruiting and supporting of people with disabilities creates a return on investment for them that actually makes it worthwhile to open their doors to people on the spectrum," Allen says.

The Alliance says about 90% of adults with autism now are not currently employed.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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