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Working can improve symptoms of autism in adults, study finds

As many readers know, autism is a form of developmental disorder that typically affects the patient’s communication and social skills, among other symptoms. There are many degrees of severity on the autism spectrum, and the condition affects people in different ways. But one common issue for those with this disability is struggling to find a job that can be adapted for people with autism.

One of the larger obstacles to employment for autistic people is that it is a challenge for many of them to work with other people. Only half of adults with autism have more than very limited daily contact with other people. Many of those who work have a job that keeps them isolated from co-workers.

Nevertheless, a new study suggests that certain job opportunities for people with autism benefit from working, when they are able to. Researchers analyzed a group of 153 adults who were on the autism spectrum, then revisited them five and a half years later.

The subjects who had jobs that involved greater vocational independence and engagement tended to have reduced symptoms. Symptoms such as trouble with communication or social interaction, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests tended to become less severe as the years passed, the study says.

Besides arguing that engaging work is good for autistic people, this study is interesting because it examines adults, rather than children. However, many people with autism are not able to work. For parents of autistic children, Supplemental Security Income may be an option, if the family qualifies financially.

Source: Medical News Today, “Independent working may reduce adult autism symptoms,” Honor Whiteman, Jan. 16, 2014

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