Jobs Suitable for Autism Spectrum Disorders

When a person has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), he/she has significant impairment in the social world and chaos. He/she loves routine more and think more linear than the rest of us. This implies that he/she will struggle a lot in the workplace, especially if he/she’s nonverbal. But no worries. With proper assessment and identification of strengths and weaknesses, job hunting will be less difficult for him/her.

Here, I listed some of the more suitable jobs for people with ASDs. Most of them have the characteristic of routine, linear analysis, facts, long-term memory, and less people interaction. Researches from Indiana University suggested the following jobs as ideal for the person on the spectrum.

Best Jobs for Adults with Autism[1]:

  • Computer programmer
  • Engineer
  • Drafter
  • Commercial artist
  • Photographer
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Cartoonist
  • Librarian
  • Mechanic
  • Craftsman (jeweler, woodworker, blacksmith)
  • Technical repairman
  • Carpenter
  • Welder
  • Building maintainer
  • Accountant
  • Statistician
  • Journalist
  • Taxi driver
  • Telemarketer
  • Mathematician
  • Clerk
  • Bank teller
  • Physicist

For the nonverbal autistic, certain jobs exist as well, including[1]:

  • Janitor
  • Store restocker
  • Library helper
  • Factory assembly worker
  • Copy shop helper
  • Warehouse helper (grunt work)
  • Landscaper
  • Data entry specialist
  • Office helper
  • Other small jobs with little need for communication

Image courtesy of Queensland University of Technology. Physics is a heavenly job for a person with ASD.

Notice all of these are categorized under physical sciences, computer, music, and art, as well as labor with no or limited need for constant communication – all these jobs are a perfect niche for the ASD person thanks to very strong analytical and linear thinking. In fact, some of these jobs do really prefer ASD folks over neurotypical (NT) people, like in computer sciences.

Now, the following jobs are NOT suitable for ASD people. I typed not all caps because the following jobs listed below demand a LOT of social communication that if an ASD person will work such jobs, he/she will be jeopardized as well as his/her colleagues, superiors, and companies that will only make the ASD person end up laid off or fired leaving him/her devastated and incompetent.

Worst Jobs for Adults with Autism[1]:

  • Cashier
  • Cook
  • Waiter/waitress
  • Casino dealer
  • Anything with oral dictation
  • Taxi dispatcher
  • Ticket agent (airline, circus, etc.)
  • Market Trader
  • Auctioneer
  • Receptionist

Image courtesy of Twitter. Secretarial jobs are hell for the autistic employee.

These jobs DO DEMAND for constant communication, multitasking, working memory and less analytical skills. These are considered hell for the ASD person as he/she cannot easily communicate ideas to other people, making him/her look incompetent, absent-minded, or a liar to other people, risking his/her credibility or professional standing.

I also added some of the bad jobs for autistic people:

  • Teacher – obviously, a teacher speaks to noisy, naughty students. Might cause burnout.
  • Nurse – I’m totally related to this. Lots of communication, from doctors, health personnel, to patients and families, as well as quick common sense and working memory, multitasking. Very bad job and can cause burnout as well as well as risking your license and patients’ lives.
  • Secretary – another bad job. Constant communication (and flirting) with your boss and colleagues involving working memory and multitasking as well. Not good.

Temple Grandin gave also tips on employment when someone is on the spectrum.[2] She stated that ASD people have poorer working (short-term) memory – meaning getting and following verbal instructions right away – than most NTs. On the other hand, ASD people have stronger long-term memory than NTs, making ASD folks very good analysts, researchers, scientists, musicians, and artists.

Here is an excerpt from her article:

Some job tips for people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome:

  • Jobs should have a well-defined goal or endpoint.
  • Sell your work, not your personality. Make a portfolio of your work.
  • The boss must recognize your social limitations.

It is important that high functioning autistics and Asperger’s syndrome people pick a college major in an area where they can get jobs. Computer science is a good choice because it is very likely that many of the best programmers have either Asperger’s syndrome or some of its traits. Other good majors are: accounting, engineering, library science, and art with an emphasis on commercial art and drafting. Majors in history, political science, business, English or pure math should be avoided. However, one could major in library science with a minor in history, but the library science degree makes it easier to get a good job.

Miss Grandin’s right. An ASD person’s work and not speech should be emphasized in order for him/her to have a long-term job. Most of all, the employer should be very well aware of the autism spectrum, including its strengths and weakesses, and the employer must be supportive of his autistic employee (well, I guess it’s not that working well enough in my country…)

With these tips, there will be more hope for people with ASD to find meaning in their lives by their careers.

Reference:

  1. http://www.emaxhealth.com/11406/34-best-and-10-worst-jobs-adults-autism
  2. http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/Choosing-the-Right-Job-for-People-with-Autism-or-Aspergers-Syndrome
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