Prepare Your Child with Asperger’s for Adulthood with These Career Planning Tips
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Helping your child with Asperger’s Syndrome transition into adulthood can be challenging. There is so much to consider as you prepare your teen for independent living. While you can’t prepare for every eventuality, by helping your child career plan from an early age you can ensure your child has the necessary skills to make a valuable contribution to the workforce. Effective career planning will influence the type of courses your child takes at university as well as the jobs they eventually apply for.
It’s estimated that approximately 80% of adults with Asperger’s and high-functioning autism don’t have full-time jobs. This isn’t because they don’t have the necessary skills to get the job done, but because they are perceived as being socially awkward in the workplace. People with Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with social interaction, and often are unsure about how to respond appropriately. They have difficulty understanding nonverbal communication like body language and tone of voice. This can be very problematic in the workplace and often leads to misunderstandings.
Understanding your child’s unique skills and abilities
It’s important to assess your child’s abilities and need for support carefully. Keep in mind that the social abilities of people with Asperger’s can vary greatly. Some struggle immensely with social interaction and have difficulty smiling or making eye-contact, while others may be very talkative, but ask too many questions resulting in social alienation. These considerations will determine the kind of work that’s most suitable for your child.
People with Asperger’s tend to be literal thinkers who are very detail orientated. This makes them ideal candidates for jobs that require focus, analytical skills and attention to detail. However, because they’re so detail orientated they aren’t good when it comes to planning projects, establishing priorities or multi-tasking. Their impressive long-term memory makes them ideal candidates for analytical and scientific professions that require work with figures and data.
To help you get started, we’ve researched some of the best and worst job ideas for young adults with Asperger’s. Even if your child is still young, it’s helpful to start thinking about this now.
Best jobs for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome
1. Computer programming
This is ideal for visual thinkers and because it’s such a broad field, your child shouldn’t struggle finding a job. Your child’s attention to detail and analytical skills will be highly valued in this field. In fact, in a recent interview, the founder of PayPal made the point that Asperger’s “happens to be a plus for innovation and creating great companies.”
This is another great profession for people with Asperger’s who are visual thinkers. It requires attention to detail and analytical skills. Keep in mind that this is most suited for young adults who have a flair for drawing. Such a job could be a stepping stone to other technical, engineering-based jobs.
3. Appliance repair
Repairing appliances requires focus and attention to detail. This can be a great job for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome who are technically minded. It can also pave the way for other jobs like building or factory maintenance.
4. Copy editor
This job is ideal for people with Asperger’s Syndrome who lack verbal skills. Copy editing doesn’t rely on interaction with others, and can be done from the comfort of one’s home. Such a position requires attention to detail and focus, making it ideal for someone with Asperger’s.
5. Data entry
If your child with Asperger’s is a non-visual thinker who struggles with communication, data entry may be a good option. Such a job is ideal for someone who enjoys data and doesn’t get bored easily. Keep in mind that if your child lacks fine motor skills, you may want to consider another job.
Worst jobs for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome
This job is likely to be too stressful for someone with Asperger’s as it requires the ability to multi-task, something many with the condition struggle with. Much of the work, like giving customers change, puts too much demand on short-term working memory. This makes it a very challenging job for someone with Asperger’s.
In addition to good people skills, such a job requires the ability to multi-task and to remain calm under pressure. A person with Asperger’s is likely to get flustered when the phone lines become busy. Aspects of the position also require good short-term working memory, something people with Asperger’s lack.
3. Air traffic controller
This job could quickly become overwhelming for someone with Asperger’s. It requires the ability to process a lot of information quickly. A person with Asperger’s poor short-term working memory would make this job particularly stressful. This can be a very demanding job with lots of responsibility and someone with Asperger’s may struggle with the demands of the position.
Working in a kitchen is a sensory experience complete with an onslaught of aromas and sounds that many with Asperger’s wouldn’t cope with. In addition, kitchen work requires the ability to multi-task and tends to rely heavily on teamwork.
This job requires the ability to openly empathize with others as well as the ability to read tone and body language. A person with Asperger’s literal approach to the world would make it difficult for them to connect with students. Aspects of this job also require multi-tasking skills as well as good short-term memory.
Have you started preparing your child with Asperger’s for a job? What was the experience like? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
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