On June 6 and 7, The AbilityHub is hosting the Second AnnualASD Vocational Conference, WhatWill It Take: Advancing VocationalOpportunities for Persons with AutismSpectrum Disorders.
For one organizer, the conferencemarks a change in attitudes. “We’reincreasingly realizing that peoplewith disabilities, including on theautism spectrum, have much tocontribute to the labour market,” saysDavid Nicholas, a U of C associateprofessor of social work who teachesin Edmonton and is on the conference’snational planning committee.
“However, they not only have
difficulty accessing the job market, but
also the supports they need once they
have a job. The conference will bring
together people with ASD, family
members, employers, job support
personnel such as coaches, trainers and
researchers—with the goal of setting
priorities and strategies.”
Statistics show 65 per cent of
Canadians with physical or intellectual
disabilities hold jobs, compared to
fewer than 10 per cent of people with
ASD. The lack of funding for programs
and job coaches is a barrier, says Norm
Lepitre, The Hub’s director of facilities
and human resources. “One of our
focus areas is influencing public policy
at all levels.”
The need to help people with ASD
succeed in the workplace is highlighted
by a recent survey of American parents
that found as many as one in 50 school
children had autism, compared to 40
years ago when it was one in 2,500.
The challenge will be to changecommunity perceptions, createopportunities and raise awareness ofthe capabilities of people with ASD.
— Frankie Thornhill
For more information or to register forThe Second Annual ASD VocationalConference, What Will It Take, visittheabilityhub.org.