Can your teenager with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enjoy a rewarding, fulfilling career? The answer is most likely yes. By paying attention to their interests and proficiencies now, you can increase their chances of finding a suitable job in the future. In this post, we will discuss possible careers for people with autism and highlight five prominent individuals with ASD who have made significant contributions to their professions.
Common Proficiencies Of People With ASD
You may have heard the axiom: “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” Like everyone else, people on the autism spectrum possess a wide range of skills, abilities and interests. However, many people with ASD demonstrate one or more of the following career proficiencies:
- Visually oriented. Many individuals who are on the autism spectrum are strong visual thinkers. With a keen attention to detail, they can easily spot things others may miss and excel at intricate work.
- Interested in animals. Children with autism often develop strong bonds with their pets. Because they can relate to an aversion to eye contact, loud noises and over-stimulation, people with ASD can be especially attuned to the needs of animals.
- Good with facts. People with ASD have a tendency to approach situations logically, which can be helpful for making objective decisions. Many individuals on the spectrum enjoy research and develop an impressive knowledge base on a topic of interest.
- High technical aptitude. For individuals who are very detail-oriented, technical skills often come easily. Many people with autism have a unique talent for learning the ins and outs of machines, systems or programs.
People With ASD With Amazing Careers
Experts have speculated that many famous historical figures including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Emily Dickinson and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart may have been on the autism spectrum. However, modern psychology has only recognized a formal diagnosis of autism since the mid-twentieth century, so it is impossible to know for sure whether those individuals were affected. While many people prefer to keep their health information private, the following notable individuals have all publicly acknowledged that they have ASD:
- Jo Redman is a three-time WKC kickboxing world champion. She advocates for autism awareness and uses her success to inspire others with learning challenges.
- Dan Harmon has produced several successful television projects including NBC’s “Community” and Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim.”After learning about autism while conducting background research for a character, Harmon recognized many of the markers in himself and was subsequently diagnosed.
- Temple Grandin is a well-known professor of animal science, advocate for the humane treatment of livestock and autism spokesperson. Dr. Grandin teaches at Colorado State University, writes about animal behavior and animal welfare, and serves as a consultant to the livestock industry. After observing the comforting effects of pressure on cattle, she invented a hug box to help alleviate tension and anxiety for people with ASD and other sensory challenges. Dr. Grandin also regularly speaks and writes about autism, including an article on suitable careers for people with autism.
- Singer-songwriter Marty Balin founded the classic rock band Jefferson Airplane and its second iteration Jefferson Starship. In addition to performing with his bands, Balin has also written songs for other artists and released successful solo albums.
- Actor, writer and producer Dan Aykroyd is best known for starring in the original cast of “Saturday Night Live,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Ghostbusters.” Aykroyd overcame being expelled from school twice as a child to achieve success in television and film. After winning two Emmys and being nominated for an Academy Award, Aykroyd made millions as a co-founder of the House of Blues chain of music venues.
Careers For People With Autism
People with autism perform best in positions that maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. In general, they should seek jobs that provide structure, require attention to detail and avoid those that regularly involve intense interpersonal work or require a strong short-term memory. Here are eight types of occupations that may be a good fit for someone on the autism spectrum.
- Animal science. For those who enjoy working with pets, career options include veterinary technician, groomer, obedience trainer, dog walker or pet sitter. Individuals who are comfortable with large animals could also consider occupations such as equine trainer, livestock handler or zookeeper. If your child is high-functioning and very intelligent, he or she could even become a veterinarian.
- Researcher. People with autism can leverage their interest in facts to pursue a career in research. In many of these positions, their tendency to be logical and unemotional is an advantage because it enables them to present the information they find without personal bias. Careers for people with autism exist in many different fields and require various levels of education. Possible jobs include reference librarian, title abstractor, fact-checker, genealogist or research assistant.
- Accounting. If your child excels in mathematics, a career that focuses on numbers may be a great fit. Like research, there are many related jobs at a variety of different skill and education levels. People with autism can excel in careers such as forensic accountant, CPA, tax preparation specialist, bookkeeper, billing specialist and accounts payable clerk.
- Shipping and logistics. The freight hauling and logistics industry offers many different types of jobs. For those who are confident drivers, there are driving jobs that range from operating a tractor-trailer to delivering mail on rural routes. Non-driving jobs that may be suitable for someone with ASD include package handler, load supervisor and mail processor.
- Art and design. As previously mentioned, many people with ASD are very visually oriented and excel at creating 2D or 3D images. These skills can be translated into a variety of creative or industrial careers including animator, CAD designer, photographer, architect, illustrator or artist.
- Manufacturing. Many people with autism perform best in a structured environment. These individuals may excel at jobs in manufacturing, a field that relies on consistent, routine processes. If your child enjoys tasks that involve assembling components, he or she may be interested in a career as a machinist, baker, fabricator, machine operator, woodworker, assembler or welder.
- Information technology. Many IT positions are very specialized and performed “behind the scenes,” which may be appealing to someone with autism. To identify appropriate roles, pay attention to the way the employer describes both the position and work environment. People with ASD can excel in roles like network engineer, web developer, web designer, software engineer and database administrator but would be wise to avoid positions that are described as “client-facing” or that operate in an “agile environment.”
- Engineering. Like IT, engineering offers many technical positions that are very attractive to detailed oriented individuals. If your child has strong math and science skills, he or she may want to consider a career in civil, chemical, electrical, biomedical or mechanical engineering.
Whether your teen loves to draw or spends hours online, identifying and developing their skills is the key to a fulfilling career. Lexington Services specializes in helping children with autism and other learning challenges reach their full potential. Click here to learn how Lexington Life Academy empowers its students to succeed academically, socially and professionally.
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