Learning about Aspergers and employment can help people with the condition to prepare for the workforce. Job seekers with Aspergers have more opportunities than ever before. A combination of therapy, support services and workplace environment preparation can help people with AS find gainful employment and build successful careers.
Outlook for Aspergers and Employment
Autism spectrum disorder awareness has made employers more sensitive to the needs of affected employees. This means that more employers know how to approach an interview with a job seeker as well as how to create a workplace environment for employees with the condition. Before awareness efforts, employers did not understand the social and communication difficulties common in Aspergers and many very talented people did not make it past the interview process. as awareness increases, more employers recognize the value of employees with Aspergers and some even offer special job training to help employees adjust to the workplace.
Aspergers Employment Challenges
The social and communication problems inherent in Aspergers create challenges in job hunting and in sustaining long-term employment. Common social and communication problems that can affect a job include:
- Difficulty maintaining a two-way conversation
- Inability to understand verbal instructions
- May not work well with others
- Needs a structured routine and may get extremely upset by routine changes
- Problems understanding the emotions of others, and as a result, may react inappropriately
- Sensory processing issues can make the person respond in an unusual manner to certain sights, sounds, smells or tastes
- Repetitive and obsessive behavior (stimming), such as rocking back and forth, skin picking or hand flapping
Some of these symptoms may create misunderstandings with co-workers and make it difficult for affected employees to fit into the workplace environment. The best way for job seekers with the condition to increase their chances for successful employment is to prepare for work and to look for jobs with employers that are educated about Aspergers. Autism and Aspergers support organizations can help job seekers prepare for work life and find employers who are sensitive to their needs.
Employment Preparation for People with Aspergers
Employment preparation begins with getting an effective treatment plan for Aspergers. The treatment plan should address life skills and employment skills. For example, improving communication and conversational skills with speech therapy and addressing stimming with behavioral therapy can help a person do better in a job environment. Inclusive classes in which students with AS interact with typical students can help a person prepare for work life. College life can prepare a person with Aspergers for employment and independent living through daily interactions in classrooms and through the demands of campus living.
Job Training Programs
Job training and life skills programs designed for people with Aspergers are excellent ways to help a person transition from school to work and independent living. These programs address specific skills that are required for work, create job environment interaction, and provide strategies on how to deal with common workplace challenges. Some of the programs require the person to live on the premises and gradually adjust to independent living and employment.
Working During Teen Years
Temple Grandin, a successful college professor with autism, recommends that people with autism and Aspergers learn about employment by getting a job during their teen years in her article, "Transition to Employment and Independent Living for Individuals with Autism and Aspergers". She believes that the small jobs she had as a teenager helped her build important skills that helped her later sustain a successful career.
Job Placement Agencies
Some job placement agencies specialize in helping people with Aspergers find employment, such as Chicago, Illinois's Aspiritech and Denmark's Specialisterne. Aspiritech and Specialisterne are non-profit organizations that train people with Aspergers and high functioning autism in computer program testing and date entry and then contracts them out to clients for work projects. Ask an Aspergers support organization for help to locate a local job placement agency.
Job Support for Aspergers
After getting hired in a job, employees with Aspergers can get job support to help them adjust to the workplace and deal with any job challenges. Some employers have internal job support for people with Aspergers. Employees without internal resources can seek support from autism and Aspergers organizations. Many national organizations with local chapters and local non-profit organizations have support initiatives that can help people with Aspergers deal with workplace problems. The Autism, Aspergers Syndrome Coalition Network for Education and Networking and Development (AASCEND) website are good places to find vocational support and job search help online.
Job Success Is Possible with Asperger
It is possible to have Aspergers and employment success. Early job preparation, an effective treatment plan and employment support can help people with Aspergers not only find employment but also achieve successful careers.