Can I Work with Autism?

Autism is a mental disorder marked by an unusual preoccupation with yourself leading to the detriment of communication, the ability to imagine, and the ability to interact socially with others. Obviously, adults with autism have a difficult time performing any kind of work which requires receiving any kind of instructions or paying attention for extended periods of time.

Sometimes those who suffer from autism are able to adjust to work environments. This is especially true of those with higher functioning conditions such as Asperger Syndrome. Statistically, however, most adults with autism are not able to work full time in meaningful employment or to live on their own unassisted. Even with significant attempts made to encourage employers to create environments in which autistic adults can perform meaningful work, only about 6% of adults with autism are able to maintain full time employment.

The cause of autism is unknown, though it is believed to be genetic. Early detection is key in treating autism. When autism is detected early, it can be treated medically and therapeutically. While a child with autism who receives treatment has a much better chance of being able to function independently as an adult, the chances are still relatively thin.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes autism as a condition which can be considered a complete disability both in children and adults. To receive Social Security Disability benefits as an adult, it must be shown that the autistic adult is incapable of performing any work which is available to someone of his level of education and training or for which he could reasonably be trained.

Receiving Social Security Disability benefits as an autistic child is not a guarantee that you will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits as an adult. Your Social Security Disability diary will be opened when you turn 18 and your case will be reconsidered. It is in your best interests to be represented by a Social Security Disability lawyer or other representative in all claims and appeals proceedings. Someone who is able to represent himself at a Social Security Disability hearing is unlikely to be considered severely affected enough by autism to preclude meaningful work.

Autism and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

Autism does not directly affect your ability to perform physical tasks, but it does generally affect your ability to concentrate on those tasks or to receive the instructions needed to learn new tasks in the first place. While this is sometimes overcome for those with milder autistic spectrum disorders in workplaces where supervisors are trained to deal with employees with autistic disorders, many adults with autism are unable to perform any kind of substantial gainful activity. To be considered completely disabled by autism for Social Security Disability purposes, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Obvious and significant impairment in social function.
  • Obvious and significant impairment in concentrating.
  • Obvious and significant impairment in comprehending communication or communicating.
  • Obvious and significant impairment in cognitive functioning.

Autism and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

In some cases, it is simpler to prove that autistic adults are incapable of performing sedentary work, as this kind of work typically involves concentration or interaction with other people. By definition, an autistic adult has great difficulty being able to perform this kind of work.

Autistic adults will nearly always require assistance in applying for Social Security Disability benefits, especially if their initial claim is denied and the appeals process becomes necessary. Seek a Social Security Disability lawyer who has experience winning Social Security Disability claims for autistic adults.