How Job Carving Can Help individuals With Autism/IDD

By Taryn Oesch

With accommodations, many individuals with autism/IDD can work successfully in competitive employment. One way to provide such accommodations and create a job that will help the individual and the business experience success is job carving, which customizes a job to fit the needs of both the business and the individual.

If you’re an advocate, an employment specialist or a job coach, use the following steps to use job carving to help an individual with autism or IDD find and succeed in a job.

Understand the individual.

In order to understand how to support the individual, you need to understand them. Even if you are a family member or close friend, take this step to talk with the individual and think about what they want and need in a job.

We recommend using a strengths-based approach – identify the individual’s needs but also their strengths. Consider questions like these:

  • What is this individual good at?
  • What does this individual enjoy doing? (For example, if they enjoy talking with other people, a customer-facing job might be a good fit.)
  • What skills does this individual have? (For example, if they know how to cook, a restaurant or cafe might be a good employer.)
  • What is this individual’s goals in seeking traditional employment? (For example, are they wanting to interact with more people? Earn spending money? Learn new skills? All of the above?)

Understand accommodations.

Possible accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Visual instructions or reminders of processes
  • Job coaching
  • Adapted written materials
  • The ability to work in a quieter location or wear headphones
  • Supportive technology

Understand the employment market.

What jobs are out there, especially in your community? Where are employers looking for potential employees, and what types of skills are they looking for? What are the jobs that match well with the individual’s skills and interests? The Power of the Dream’s online jobs portal, opening later this year, will help with this step by matching employers interested in hiring individuals with autism/IDD with those individuals who are looking for jobs.

Websites like and the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you learn more about different jobs and what you can expect from them.

Understand the employer.

Once you’ve identified a potential employer, meet with the hiring manager or other business representative. Identify any of the business’ unmet needs that could be met by hiring your candidate. Understand the company culture, the job opportunity or opportunities, and the people who work there. Don’t try to make the culture fit the individual. Not every company will be a good fit; if you find that’s the case, move on.

Understand other opportunities.

If you find a company that’s a good fit but doesn’t have any good job openings, there may be an opportunity to carve a job in a different way. For example, higher-level employees often spend a great deal of time performing lower-level duties that could (and should) be performed by a less experienced employee. By hiring an individual with autism or IDD, the company can free up that higher-level employee to perform the core duties of their job while employing someone else who is capable of taking over the other responsibilities – a win-win!

Understand the job.

When you do identify an employer and job that seems like a good fit, make sure you understand the job. Observe someone who already works that role, and identify the tasks they perform and the skills someone in that role needs. Then, determine which accommodations your candidate will need, and discuss them with the employer.

Finally, provide ongoing support and advocacy!