Who are Our Neurodivergent Job Seekers?
Jobs for Humanity aims to support the neurodivergent community in achieving fulfilling employment. Upon initial evaluation of this group, our team came to realize its large scope as it encompasses a diverse array of neurodiverse conditions ranging from ADHD to Down Syndrome. With each subgroup comes a different set of challenges, strengths, and motivations that are critical for us to understand.
Therefore, it became clear that our focus would need to be reduced in scope and more clearly defined. To arrive at which neurodiverse subcommunity should be of focus, we defined two research questions: “who is most in need?” and “where is this group located?”. To begin, answering our first research question, we looked at employment rates for the broad group of neurodiverse individuals. We chose to look at employment rates rather than unemployment rates based on the findings from a Canadian study that found that “The rates of unemployment and participation, however, may not be the most effective to illustrate the difficulties experienced by persons with disabilities. A more appropriate measure is the employment rate—defined as the number of employed people as a percentage of the total population” (Statistics Canada, 2015).
While conducting our research, we found that government sites split the group into two broad categories: those with a learning disability and those with a developmental disability. Those with a learning disability have an employment rate of 28.8%, and those with a developmental disability have an employment rate of 23.3% (Statistics Canada, 2017).
Our team discovered that autistic individuals have the highest unemployment rate at about 86% (Simmons, 2019). With this research in hand, we were able to conclude that autistic individuals are the neurodiverse subgroup struggling the most to find employment.
Also in our research, we discovered that 1-2% of Canadian adults and 2.21% of American adults are autistic. Due to the more significant percentage of autistic adults in the United States, we set this as our geographic target and further specified that target as Los Angeles, California, as California is the state with the most adults living with ASD (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 27). First estimate of the Number of Adults Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the United States. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/features/adults-living-with-autism-spectrum-disorder.html
- Statistics Canada. (2017). Labour force status for adults with disabilities by disability type. Retrieved from Statistics Canada: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310034801
- Statistics Canada. (2015, November 27). Persons with disabilities and employment. Retrieved from Statistics Canada: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2014001/article/14115-eng.htm#a3
- Simmons, T. (2019, April 9). 86% of adults with autism are unemployed. This job fair aims to change that. Retrieved from CBC: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/86-of-adults-with-autism-are-unemployed-this-job-fair-aims-to-change-that-1.5089780#:~:text=CBC%20News%20Loaded-,86%25%20of%20adults%20with%20autism%20are%20unemployed.,fair%20aims%20to%20change%20that