January 12, 2016 8:51 pm
Updated: January 12, 2016 8:56 pm

Nova Scotia database aims to boost employment for people with autism

WATCH ABOVE: Only one per cent of people living with autism in Canada have jobs, but a new local program is hoping to change that. Global's Alexa Maclean reports.


A Nova Scotia organization has launched a new database to help job-seekers with autism find employment opportunities.

Autism Nova Scotia announced the Autism Job Seekers Database on Tuesday in partnership with Ready, Willing and Able. The goal is to raise employment levels for people living with autism and other intellectual disabilities to the national average.

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia increasing early intervention support for students with autism

“Right now we know…it’s around 33 percent and in fact adults with [autism spectrum disorder] is about 50 percent lower than that,” said Cynthia Carroll, the executive director of Autism Nova Scotia.

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects social and communication abilities. People living with an autism spectrum disorder experience their symptoms very differently from others. Some won’t communicate verbally while others have echolalia, causing them to repeat or echo words.

John McCrae is a young man living at the high end of autism spectrum disorder, which means his symptoms are described as being less obvious. He says finding employment can be extremely challenging.

“You get incredibly nervous, sometimes you have a loss for words and you’re not even sure what to say or do in an interview,” he said.

“I would explain it as you kind of get more intolerant of certain things. Noises that you would often hear could set you off, textures, smells, you’re often shy or lack confidence.”

Heather Downey’s son Iain has autism, and he created his own baking business with the help of the Ready, Willing and Able program.

“They say if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism because each one is so different,” she said.”They’ve supported us in Iain becoming an entrepreneur where hopefully he will be able to have his little business to support himself.”


People living with autism spectrum disorder can find help with things including résumé-building and employment opportunities by signing up for the database at AutismNovaScotia.ca

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