Impactful and integral to our economic recovery after the pandemic, The Autism Full Employment Act will rebuild and improve autism employment programs.
Employment remains the issue today for many adults with autism. During the pandemic of 2020, authors Michael Bernick and Dr. Lou Vismara, along with other adults with autism, practitioners, and advocates, set out to develop an Autism Full Employment Act. At the time, the national economy was decimated, and it was clear that it would need to be rebuilt, starting in 2021 and beyond. The Act is an attempt not only to rebuild autism employment programs, but also to address the limitations and shortcomings of the current system.
The Autism Full Employment Act shows how there can be a place in the job world for the wide range of adults with autism, ADHD, and other learning and mental health differences—many of whom are not employed today. Bernick and Dr. Vismara review the autism employment initiatives in recent years among major employers, state and local governments, autism-focused businesses, and autism transition programs, and present strategies to build on these initiatives. They set out more fully the meanings of “autism talent advantage,” “autism friendly workplace,” and “employment for the more severely impacted.”
Six broad strategy areas are explored. Interspersed with these six strategy areas are notes on related issues of “professionalizing the direct support workforce,” “transitions,” and “comorbidities.” Bernick and Dr. Vismara end by considering why no government action or program can replace the employment journey of each adult with autism, but how instead the Act can hasten these journeys.
MICHAEL BERNICK is a former director of the California State Labor Department, with over forty years in the employment field. He currently is an employment attorney with the international law firm of Duane Morris LLP, fellow with the Milken Institute, and adjunct professor at Stanford University. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Oxford University (Balliol College), and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
LOUIS A. VISMARA, MD, is a founding member of the UC Davis MIND Institute, the state of California’s First 5 Commission, and the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism. He received his BA from Stanford University and his MD from Baylor College of Medicine. He is currently an adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford University.
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