` Skip to main content


What can we do to support employment for people who are on the autism spectrum?

As a master’s student studying the field of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, I learned about the Circle of Courage model from one of my professors.

This model has guided my work throughout my education career and with Mind Shift, particularly in promoting autism spectrum employment.

This model aligns well with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs as well. It also coincided with the release of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-III-R released in 1994).

I worked in an adolescent residential treatment center in the late 1980s and was fortunate to work directly with two premier psychiatrists who consulted with that organization. These talented professionals demonstrated the value of self-awareness when working on behavior changes.

While my initial work was specifically with children and adolescents, I have found that the theories also apply to people of all ages, including efforts to create jobs for autistic adults.

A Framework for Supporting Autism Spectrum Employment

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a model of human needs most often seen as a triangle suggesting that a foundation of psychological needs described as Love and Belonging must first be built before the other needs (Safety, Social, Esteem, and Self-actualization) can be addressed.

Human life is influenced by genetics and the environment, and our human needs exist no matter where we fall in our human experiences.

The other thing we know is that we can influence and impact the achievement of our needs throughout our lives.

This level of influence continues for our entire lives in the form of Lifelong Learning. As humans, we can learn from our actions and decisions, and this is part of our journey.

The more informed we can be as we make decisions, and the more awareness of ourselves and our environments we can build, the better probability we will have for success.

This is especially true when considering autism spectrum employment, as understanding and support can significantly impact job opportunities for autistic adults.

Belonging: A Cornerstone for Jobs for Autistic Adults

The Circle of Courage is based on a Native American Medicine Wheel model.

The visual was designed by Lakota Sioux artist George BlueBird to provide a structure to work with at-risk young people.

Researchers Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bokcern wanted to improve outcomes for this population as it was often discarded because of their observable behaviors.

Using the Medicine Wheel structure, the Circle of Courage identifies the quadrants: Belonging, Independence, Mastery, and Generosity.

This model can be particularly effective in addressing the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum in the workplace, promoting a sense of community and belonging that is crucial for successful jobs for autistic adults.

Independence and Mastery: Empowering Autistic Adults in the Workplace

People on the autism spectrum (as well as many people with disabilities and elderly people) find themselves in a position where they are seldom allowed to make their own decisions.

In my career in education, I learned that school systems have an opportunity to build these skills in a safe environment. Often, well-intentioned people want to protect children from bad decisions and the consequences.

However, fostering independence and mastery is essential in preparing individuals on the autism spectrum for the workforce, ensuring they have the skills and confidence needed for autism spectrum employment.

Generosity: Building Confidence Through Contribution

The ability to recognize that you can give to others builds your confidence and sense of value. It isn’t just an action, it is defined by the ability to contribute to the community, workplace family, and social organizations among other ways.

Fostering a culture of generosity in the workplace can greatly benefit individuals on the autism spectrum, as it encourages inclusion and values the unique contributions they can make to their teams and organizations, enhancing jobs for autistic adults.

Mind Shift's Role in Autism Spectrum Employment

In the context of supporting employment for individuals on the autism spectrum, Mind Shift plays a crucial role in implementing strategies and providing resources that align with the principles outlined in the Circle of Courage and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Mind Shift’s role involves:


Implementing Inclusive Policies:

  • Mind Shift creates inclusive environments where individuals on the autism spectrum can feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.
  • This involves implementing policies that promote diversity and accommodate different needs in the workplace, which is vital for autism-spectrum employment.

Providing Training and Support:

  • Mind Shift provides training and support services aimed at enhancing independence and mastery among individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • These programs focus on developing essential skills and fostering personal growth and development, preparing them for jobs for autistic adults.

Advocacy and Awareness:

  • Mind Shift advocates for the rights and inclusion of individuals on the autism spectrum in the workplace.
  • Through educational campaigns and awareness training, Mind Shift raises awareness about the strengths and capabilities of neurodiverse individuals and challenges stereotypes and misconceptions, promoting a more inclusive approach to autism spectrum employment.

Overall, Mind Shift’s commitment to creating inclusive and supportive environments empowers individuals on the autism spectrum to thrive in the workplace and beyond, aligning with the overarching goal of fostering environments where all individuals can realize their full potential.


A Call to Action for Autism Spectrum Employment

Imagine a world where we are all working to achieve environments where all people, including those on the autism spectrum, can thrive.

By embracing the principles of the Circle of Courage and advocating for inclusive practices, we can make significant strides in supporting jobs for autistic adults and creating a more inclusive society.

FAQ's: Enhancing Autism Spectrum Employment

How can a sense of community benefit individuals on the autism spectrum in the workplace?

  • A sense of community in the workplace is crucial for autism spectrum employment as it fosters a supportive environment where individuals feel valued and included.
  • This sense of belonging enhances their confidence, motivation, and engagement, making it easier for them to navigate the challenges of the workplace.
  • By promoting a culture of acceptance and cooperation, organizations can significantly improve job satisfaction and productivity for autistic adults, leading to more successful and fulfilling careers.

Why is promoting independence important for individuals on the autism spectrum?

  • Promoting independence is vital for individuals on the autism spectrum as it empowers them to make their own decisions, learn from their experiences, and take responsibility for their actions.
  • This autonomy is essential for building self-esteem and confidence, which are critical components of successful autism spectrum employment.
  • Independence in the workplace allows autistic adults to showcase their unique talents and capabilities, contributing meaningfully to their roles and paving the way for career advancement and personal growth in jobs for autistic adults.

How does Mind Shift promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace?

  • Mind Shift plays a pivotal role in enhancing autism spectrum employment by implementing inclusive policies that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.
  • They work towards creating environments where individuals on the autism spectrum are accepted and appreciated for their unique contributions.
  • Through training programs and awareness campaigns, Mind Shift educates employers and employees about the value of neurodiversity, challenging stereotypes, and fostering a culture where everyone has the opportunity to succeed in jobs for autistic adults.

How does Mind Shift contribute to creating supportive environments for neurodiverse individuals?

  • Mind Shift contributes to creating supportive environments for neurodiverse individuals by providing resources, support, and advocacy aimed at enhancing autism spectrum employment.
  • They offer training and development programs designed to build independence and mastery, essential for thriving in the workplace.
  • Moreover, Mind Shift’s advocacy for the rights of individuals on the autism spectrum ensures that workplaces are more accommodating and understanding of neurodiversity, leading to more inclusive and supportive settings for jobs for autistic adults.