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Volume 94

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Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…

Autism in Adults – Three Employment Job Tips

One of the biggest worries when you have autism in adults is what their future is going to be like. Will they be able to work? Hold down a job? While this question is obviously very different for each person, there are some guidelines to help you answer this question.

The level of job will obviously depend on their skill and functioning level, but here are some ideas for autism in adults where the adult is at the lower end of the functioning level. They still have skills to use, but they have many challenges as well. 

1. Autism in Adults – Use their skills and interests

Most adults with autism have skills that can be capitalized on in a job. Do they have a need for order, and like to line things up a lot? Teach them how to file, and see if they can get a part time job in an office.

Perhaps food is an interest, but you’re not sure what jobs in a restaurant an adult with autism would be capable of. See if they can get a job delivering flyers for a local pizza place — something low stress and with little interaction with other people — or cleaning tables of their favorite eatery. Using interests is always a good way to encourage motivation when working with autism in adults.

2. Autism in Adults – Take advantage of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

The folks at these centers are usually great at pairing up people with disabilities with jobs. One of the most useful things they can often do is offer the use of a job coach when working with autism in adults.

A job coach will shadow your adult with autism on the job and give them instruction or reassurance when they need it. After the person gets more comfortable and used to the job, the job coach is often faded out — but not always. Sometimes, Vocational Rehabilitation can provide paid internships of a sort. The adult with autism gets experience being trained in some area, and the business contributes part of the pay while Vocational Rehabilitation contributes the rest.

The people at Vocational Rehabilitation have lots of connections with employers all over your area, some that you may not have even heard of. They know which employers are likely to work well with working with autism in adults, and which aren’t. They know who to talk to, and what to ask for. Say, for example, there is a job that you think would fit your adult child with autism really well, except for a few things they aren’t able to do. In a regular job situation, they would just show you the door, but Vocational Rehabilitation can often negotiate for a modified job position that more closely fits the abilities and needs in regard to autism in adults.

There is often a wait list to get services from Vocational Rehabilitation, but it is worth it. Google Vocational Rehabilitation for your local area or look for it in the social services section of your phone book.

3. Autism in Adults – Know what jobs are a good and bad fit

Take for example working the counter of a fast food restaurant. You have to take orders very rapidly, and be good at operating machinery, like the cash register, at a very fast pace. That would be overwhelming for a lot of adults with autism. Their processing speed is not that fast. Things get backed up in their mind, and it can cause meltdowns, even if the task is simple.

Instead, choose something that is slow paced or can be done at the person’s own pace. This often works very well when working with autism in adults. Perhaps, something that can be done on the sidelines?

Like to be outdoors? Maybe working as a cart attendant, putting back grocery carts, would work. Others may get bored with the job, but an autistic person’s need for order may make this job appeal to them.

Perhaps putting stock on shelves? If the job is relaxed about the pace, may also appeal to the sense of order and everything in its place which is often a strength of adults with autism.

Think about what attributes are most prominent in autism in adults, then try to think of a job that uses those skills or attributes. But try to avoid anything, again, that is fast paced or requires too much interaction with people — a little is okay, a lot will probably be overwhelming.

If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to finding jobs that work when working with autism in adults.

Thriving in Adulthood Book Cover

There are many other issues involved when dealing with Asperger’s syndrome in adults, and living with your adult child. Many are covered in detail in my book, Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome.

 If you have an adult loved one on the autism spectrum, or you yourself have Asperger’s syndrome, I strongly suggest that you check out my book. There is extensive information specifically designed to help adults with autism live a happy and full life.


Other relevant articles:

6 Responses to Autism in Adults – Three Employment Job Tips-94

  1. Deborah says:

    We have a 31 yr. old son. He has AS and some other issues. He’s worked as a Mail Clerk, delivering car parts and most recently working at a department store as a cart person. He was the happiest working as a Mail Clerk but that business closed.
    He is talking about going back to school, I’d like to see him succeed. Any suggestions?

    • Craig Kendall says:

      Most people with Asperger’s syndrome, unfortunately, tend to be under-employed. What I mean by that is they have more education than their job requires. One reason for this is that they do degrees in occupations which are wrong for them. Your son was happy as a Mail Clerk because he could control his environment, it had limited exposure to other people, it was very routine and he excelled at it. If he goes back for more education, what will he study? It is more important to find a job with the right characteristics where he will NOT have to be multitasking, will NOT have to interact with other people too much and where the job can be fairly routine. For good jobs for folks with Asperger’s syndrome see Eight Tips for Employment and Job Success for Those with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome

  2. Alex says:

    I recently held a job as a restaurant dishwasher for a local seafood restaurant. The only reason why I took the job was because somebody I knew worked there and had convinced his boss to give me an interview for the dishwasher position. In other words, the job came to me instead of me having to go through the extremely difficult task of handing in a resume and waiting and waiting. I realized right after my first day that the job wasn’t right for me because it was too fast-paced and I had people demanding way too many things from me. I didn’t quit because I needed the money. I ended up getting fired after working 7 days in a 10 day period because I wasn’t working fast enough(but they did say that they had never seen dishes so clean). I wanted to make sure that all the dishes were clean but it took too much time. If I had not been fired, I would have ended up quitting anyway. I am currently looking for a job where I can work at my own pace.

  3. Pauline Fox says:

    My husband of over 30 years was finally diagnosed with ASP just two years ago (he is 77 years old). I knew he had it but no one would listen to me. he is high functioning but any symptom you can name, he has. Can’t look you in the eye when you are talking to him. Can’t stand noise of any kind (he still will shut off the refrigerator in the middle of the night. Can’t interact with others. has only one friend in the world and only calls him once or twice a year with proding from me. I could go on and on but after some 25 years with him I found a Dr who put him on Effexor which has helped so much. he hasn’t had a “melt down” since (before he had up to 3 a year, bad ones). He has been hospitalized for dpression five times since I’ve known him.
    I have finally moved into a small apartment to get away from him. I love him but like a child. As you can imagine we never had a decent sex life and soon after we married it stopped completely. I never thought of leaving him because he is also a sweet, gentle man who would do anything for me but at the same time all most drives me over the edge. I’ll bet anyone married to a person with ASP knows exactly what I mean. I love him like I love my children (from a first marriage).

  4. Gin F. over in CA says:

    This is just a share~
    (This was in my 20’s. I’m 50 now~ I learned I had Asp. when I was in my late 30’s.)
    I do have a reply on working in an office. One main issue for me was the lighting. I found over time (months turning into years) that it slowly/increasingly got depressing for me -to where I cried at simple things (Like: “Hi, howrya’ doing?”) & had to eventually quit. I STARTED the job where sunlight came into the room. I did well & was happy to go to work. After some months they moved us into a bigger room with no windows & just fluorescent lights & A.C. on top of my head. To this day I don’t do well with this type of atmosphere. Fluorescents hurt/strain my eyes so much that it gives me headaches, & A.C.s relentlessly keep me stiff & cold (-no matter how many layers I had on!) FYI: I typed addresses & credit card #’s for a mailing Co. I chose that because I found with time & repetition, I could gain speed & keep up with everyone else. I started typing addresses at about 200/hour & got up to 2,000/hour over a period of 2 years. So, this job experience was a lesson for me~
    Also, the place, where we just punched in credit card #s was like a closet-sized room (also no windows). That was lit w/ regular lighting; I was fine there~ Luckily, the chair faced the opened door so I didn’t feel trapped~
    So, this thought popped into my head when I heard “office!”
    Thanks for listening! Gin

  5. Monica says:

    Our son has a job as a cart boy at the local golf course, this is perfect for him as he has minimal contact with other people and can work at his own pace, without too many distractions.

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