Self-Care Skills Key to Job Success in Adults with Autism

customer service personOne in 68 children—and one in 42 boys—is on the autism spectrum. Parents of children with autism face a host of challenges that don’t end with the daily struggles of raising a child who is “different.” Some also worry about their child’s ability to get a job or live independently.

New research presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research offers parents some hope, pointing to evidence that self-care skills mastered in childhood can help adults with autism land jobs.

Self-Care Skills and Job Success

To explore which factors might affect job success in adults with autism, researchers surveyed 81 adults who had been diagnosed with autism between 1970 and 1999. The participants ranged in age from 21 to 64, with an average age of 34. Most participants had been diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, with an average age at diagnosis of 6.5. Thirty-six percent of participants reported no contact with friends in the previous year, suggesting intense social isolation.

About 45% of participants lived with their families, so researchers also interviewed caregivers to get additional information about participants’ jobs, quality of life, mental health, language skills, symptoms, and social skills. Researchers also asked about basic self-care skills.

Just 43% of participants were employed, but researchers found that self-care skills were the most important predictor of job success. Participants with good self-care skills were more likely to keep their jobs and to work longer hours. They also relied on employment assistance services less frequently. Importantly, researchers found that a job is a good predictor of quality of life among people with autism, suggesting that something as simple as teaching self-care could boost quality of life.

Mastering Self-Care in Childhood

Researchers found that self-care skills tended to stick around. Children who had better self-care skills were more likely to grow into adults with strong self-care skills, and therefore more likely to land good jobs. The study’s authors suggest that their research provides important information for parents, educators, and autism advocates. They highlight the need for more home-based interventions to help people with autism and their caregivers.

Parents interested in helping their children with autism succeed can begin practicing self-care skills now. Such skills include basic hygiene, such as bathing and shaving, as well as cleaning, basic communication, and preparing meals.


  1. Autism prevalence. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  2. Mozes, A. (2015, May 15). Learning daily skills prepares kids with autism for adult life. Retrieved from

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  • Eleanor

    May 20th, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    People with autism should not be deprived of the most basic of life skills, especially when those very basic skills seem to go a very long way in allowing them to lead a more fulfilling life.

  • JD

    May 21st, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    This is something that is true across the board.
    Sure, you may have to modify based on your own child’s ability levels, but there is never going to be anything bad that comes form teaching someone to care for themselves and to be as self sufficient as they can be.

  • edie

    May 22nd, 2015 at 10:48 AM

    I find it to be such a positive thing that there are people and employers today who are willing to take a chance in hiring autistic employees. Just because they struggle with this doesn’t mean that they can’t learn a job skill and actually be good at it! I think that a huge portion of out population over the years has been belittled and devalued by those who haven’t been willing to take a chance on them. I think that the ones who now are doing so have opened their eyes to the possibility that these employees can help their companies while opening up opportunities which were once non existent.

  • Jaxon

    May 29th, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    There are a number of wonderful organizations out there that are committed to ensuring that those who are autistic still have the best chance for a normal life. They are working with these children and these families to make sure that they have the tools that they need to do just that. Many of these groups are under funded, and understaffed and yet they still manage to do so much for so many!

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