But how many people get paid to eat pizza?

A study from Vanderbilt University, summarized here, finds that autistic adults can experience behavioral improvements through the right job.

The research puts new emphasis on the potential for adults with autism to develop and improve over their lifetimes, said study author Julie Lounds Taylor, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville.

“We have assumed it’s really hard to budge autism symptoms in adulthood. Drugs are targeted to problems like acting out, for example,” she said. “But this study suggests that these adults need a place where they’re intellectually stimulated, and then we’ll see a reduction in symptoms.”

The study does not shy away from the challenges:

  • “Insight is one of the characteristics people with autism typically may not have…” In other words, they’re not going to say, “Hey Mom, that sushi chef training I’ve been looking into lines up well with my interests and aptitudes.”
  • “About 50 percent of adults with autism spend their time in sheltered settings, and a minority work in the community, according to Taylor. Most have trouble holding steady jobs, she added.”  Heh. Sheltered settings.  Joey going to a group home in 2015 is actually to shelter his aging parents from further wear and tear.  But he’s always been good at steadily creating laundry, broken appliances and other vocational opportunities for us.
  • “…restricted interests, repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social interactions.”  Never tried putting that on my resume.  But such qualities might make it stand out from the pile on HR’s desk.

But seriously, it is a hopeful bit of research, and care giving is all about the hope if you want to stay sane.  We are blessed with a number of local businesses who work with the public agencies to employ special needs people.  And there are some creative vocational training programs in town as well.

Here’s hoping that some of the local pizza places will create jobs for taste testers.  Joey would rise to the top of that career field.

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