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Giving adults with autism a shot at a job

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Adults with autism often face a life of unemployment despite the fact that many are brilliant and have exceptional skills.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan is encouraging employers to hire potential workers with autism, taking advantage of their skills while making considerations to accommodate the challenges people with autism face.

Steven Glowacki has an IQ of 150, scored a 1520 on the SAT and placed in the 95th percentile for a Certified Public Accountant test. The bottom line? He’s pretty darn smart.

“My academic achievements are quite impressive, but it’s that I can’t convince anyone to hire me,” Glowacki said.

He listed several obstacles he’s faced to getting a job. One is that he lacks work experience. He said he has focused primarily on doing well in school, “because I thought that was what was important.” He also said he’s not very sociable and doesn’t conform to the “kind of person that a lot of people want.”

“They have absolutely no idea how good of a job I can do,” he said. “The few more casual jobs that I’ve gotten, I’ve done the best anybody has ever done at those jobs, but I have to get the job first. And it’s not that easy.”

But the Autism Alliance is trying to make that part easier. Colleen Allen, president and CEO of Autism Alliance of Michigan, said the alliance is working to help individuals like Steven find employment.

“It always starts with getting to know the candidate and the potential job seeker, but equally important is the information can we equip that employer or that company with so that they better understand who these individuals are,” she said.

For the full conversation, listen above.

GUESTS Colleen Allen is president & CEO of Autism Alliance of Michigan Steven Glowacki is an adult with autism featured in recent Crains article "How employers can benefit from unique talents of workers with autism"