Improving the financial independence of people with Autism
April is Autism Awareness Month, and in light of this occasion, I’d like to talk about ways to improve financial independence for autistic people. But before we dive into that, let’s first unpack what autism is and debunk some common misconceptions about people with autism.
Affecting about one in 100 children around the world (World Health Organisation, 2023), Autism is a condition that affects how people communicate, interact socially, and behave. If someone has autism, they might find it tough to communicate or interact with others and can be very sensitive to things like sound or touch.
So, in terms of some widely held misconceptions, autism is NOT a disease that can be cured with a pill. It’s a neuro-developmental disorder that affects how the brain works. And no, not all people with autism are savants like in the movies. Only about 10% of them have advanced abilities in certain areas. Another myth is that all autistic individuals have intellectual disabilities or cannot speak. The truth is that some do, and some don’t. The range of skills, abilities, and communication levels among individuals on the autism spectrum is vast. But with proper support and interventions, autistic individuals can lead meaningful and productive lives.
Now that we’re clear on what autism is and is not, let’s talk about ways to improve financial independence for autistic people. Here are a few ideas:
Develop a clear understanding of personal finances
One of the keys to financial independence is having a clear understanding of personal finances. This includes knowing how to budget, manage debt, and save for the future. For autistic individuals, it may be helpful to use visual aids or other tools to make financial concepts easier to understand.
Consider a career in a field that aligns with your interests and strengths
Autistic individuals often have unique talents and interests that can be leveraged in the workforce. By pursuing a career in a field that aligns with their strengths, autistic individuals can increase their earning potential and build a fulfilling career.
Build a support network
Having a support network can be incredibly helpful in achieving financial independence. This can include family members, friends, or even support groups for autistic individuals. By surrounding themselves with people who understand and support them, autistic individuals can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
Advocate for yourself in the workplace
Many autistic individuals face discrimination and misunderstanding in the workplace. By advocating for themselves and educating their employers about their needs, autistic individuals can create a more inclusive and accommodating work environment.
Seek out financial advice
There’s no shame in seeking out financial advice. Whether it’s from a financial advisor, a trusted friend or family member, or an online resource, getting advice can help autistic individuals make informed decisions and build a solid financial foundation.
In conclusion, financial independence is important for everyone, including autistic individuals. By developing a clear understanding of personal finances, pursuing a career that aligns with their strengths, building a support network, advocating for themselves in the workplace, and seeking out financial advice, autistic individuals can achieve their financial goals and live a fulfilling life. In commemoration of Autism Awareness month, we should all aim to create a more inclusive and understanding world for everyone, regardless of their neurological differences.