Autism spectrum disorder
is a lifelong developmental disability
that is often misunderstood, thanks, in
part, to how it’s wrongly depicted on
TV and in movies. Another reason is
the wide range of symptoms and their
severity, says Sharon Nagel, a social
worker at The Ability Hub, a Calgary
agency whose goal is to improve the
quality of life for youth and adults
“If you know one person with
autism, you know one person with
autism,” says Nagel. The symptoms of
ASD—which can include odd actions
People with autism can work
Key is the right job, support and employer
and trouble talking and connecting
with people—vary, affecting anyone
with ASD in different ways.
Some people may think people with
ASD are not capable of fitting into the
workplace, but many can.
“They’re a little bit different.
People think they’re difficult and
unmanageable, but people with ASD
are capable of learning the skills
needed to work,” says Nagel. “They
need and want opportunities as much
The Ability Hub has a successful
work training program at its A Little
Somethin’ Cafe at the University of
Calgary’s Child Development Centre.
Participants write a resume, are
interviewed and learn on the job to
work with customers and run the cafe.
Six of the program’s graduates now
work there part time. One of them is
Sebastian, 23, who is proof that with
the right job and support and an
understanding employer, some people
with autism can enjoy the rewards of
“It’s been a pretty good experience,”
says Sebastian, adding he’s much more
comfortable talking to people since he
Sebastian is proof that people with autism spectrum disorder can enjoy the rewards of working.