It is estimated that upwards of 80% of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t have full-time jobs. There are a great many factors that contribute to this. Some argue that it is not because we cannot do the work, but instead because of socially inappropriate behavior in the job place. While this might be true in some cases, I am not sure that this is the case in most instances.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s look at the social issues facing your Aspie in the work place.
The stress of constant interpersonal interactions can cause anxiety, cognitive dissonance, and tantrums. Further, Aspies have a tendency to be focused on hard facts and truth, which means that we can be truly infuriating without meaning to be. Most Aspies, when they are certain that something is a specific way will argue it to the point of being obnoxious. (We are all guilty of it.) And the issue with this is… We don’t know we’re doing it. Studies of the work place show that people would rather work with pleasant and reasonable individuals, rather than someone who is always right.
When aware of it, your Aspie will try to be more accommodating and pleasant, but the inability to read social cues properly make this difficult in the extreme… we will try to plan out interactions in an attempt to fix it… but fail spectacularly… Neurotypicals don’t follow the scripts in our heads.
Autistic Spectrum individuals have shown impairment of short term memory. In most cases, long term memory is outstanding – often better than Neurotypicals. This is fine in day to day life, but really will impact almost any job that I am engaged in.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is ritual and habits. These are important aspects of the Aspie and Autistic Spectrum psyche. Without clearly defined ritual and routine, it is easy for your Aspie to become overwhelmed, which leads to stress issues. Most jobs make it hard to fall into a routine, which makes it difficult for your Aspie to adjust.
Your average Aspie will have an over developed sense of duty (it took a LOT for them to get into the job market in the first place) and a stubborn streak a mile wide. This means that they will ignore the anxiety and stress… and let it build… Often to the point of being non-verbal, stimming or full on blow outs…
Further… once they realize that a job is not one they can do, they will feel horrible. This is another big reminder of how different we are… NTs do the job thing all the time, we should be able to as well. As previously discussed in this series, any reminder that we are dysfunctional can be EXTREMELY upsetting.
|Yeah… This upsetting|
The ideal job for an Aspie would be one that had a high degree of repetition, but also variance. I know that sounds impossible to find, but there are a few out there… Many factories allow for this… repetition on one machine and then being moved to another machine… HOWEVER, the noise and bright lights of most factory floors can be as problematic, especially if your Aspie suffers sensory issues.
Several fields that I have seen a high degree of Aspie compatibility with are drafting, computer programming, industrial arts, technical writing, language arts and the like. This is especially true if these are Special Interests for your Aspie. If they are not… DO NOT try to force these subjects on your Aspie. As I have stated previously in the Food Issues part of this series, this will only prompt Oppositional Behavior.
Typically, we don’t work well in a standard work/office environment. We normally have to compensate for our deficit in social skills by becoming specialists. Since that is what we are good at (with our special interests and all), it is more than possible to make ourselves indispensable. I have found that it was better for me to make my own company and then make a reputation in my field and get paid to do what we do.
With the unemployment rate so high, it is even harder to find a job for Autistic Spectrum individuals than in previous years.
To assist, I have compiled the following list:
- Animal trainer or veterinary technician
- Automobile mechanic
- Bank Teller
- Building maintenance
- Building trades
- Clerk and filing jobs
- Commercial art
- Computer animation
- Computer programming
- Computer-troubleshooter and repair
- Copy Editor
- Data entry
- Factory Assembly work
- Inventory control
- Lab Tech
- Lawn Care
- Mechanical Design
- Recycling – sorter
- Store Shelf Stocker
- Small appliance repair
- Small engine repair
- Taxi Driver
- Video Game Designer
- Loading trucks in a warehouse
- Web page Design