The current unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 12.5% but the participation in the labor force is is only 69.1% (US Department of Labor, 4/2012). For people with autism the rate of unemployment is higher. Unsurprisingly the more significant the disability, the higher the likelihood of unemployment or underemployment. What predicts successful employment best- having held a paying job in high school (Rabren, Dunn, and Chambers, 2002). The second correlation with post high school success is the child having done their own laundry in high school. What this means is if the student learns the skills necessary to hold a job in high school, they are likely to be employable. If they have the independent life skills to care for themselves, they are more likely to be employable.
As teachers we need to ensure that we are pushing for these things. A job, not because students need to work, but to learn workplace skills. Not laundry for itself, but laundry as a representation of independence. We need to help them get these jobs, learn to balance jobs and school and then push them to be independent at home.
US Department of Labor http://www.dol.gov/odep/