The Best Jobs For People With Asperger’s
By Abigail Boyd
Updated June 28, 2019
You've probably heard the statistic: as many as 1 in 59 people are on the autism spectrum. That means many young adults are entering the workforce with Asperger syndrome, and many more are already well into their adult years. However, despite these numbers, many struggles with finding jobs for people with Asperger's. Even those who are high-functioning and possess advanced intellectual capabilities may struggle to find a job due to various hurdles, including the social aspects of job seeking and the restrictions of many work environments.
Finding the right job is possible, but it means taking a proactive approach and learning as much as you can about how to take advantage of your unique strengths while minimizing your areas of difficulty. As autism spectrum disorders become increasingly better understood and recognized, more and more companies realize the benefits people with Asperger's can bring to the table.
Know Who You Are And What You Want To Accomplish
The first step on the path to success is to embrace who you are. You can't be anyone else, and you don't have to be. You just need to develop your innate talents, practice your skills, and accept your struggles. Ask yourself questions. Do you find it difficult to work with other people or do you enjoy it? Some people with Asperger's develop effective coping skills so as not to be bothered by perceived deficits in their social functioning. But others have a more challenging time and prefer to work independently.
It's important for people with Asperger's to channel their interests into their career whenever possible. People on the spectrum tend to have one or two areas of intense focus, whether it be ancient history or computer games and finding a way to making a living from these areas of interest can be extremely fulfilling.
Even if you're just looking for a job to pay the bills, you want to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in your work, just like anyone else. This approach will lead to a better outcome and greater job satisfaction.
Finding The Right Fit
Be honest with yourself about your strengths and limitations. An Asperger's syndrome diagnosis presents itself differently in each. Visual thinkers, those that process thoughts as visual representations, have different strengths than those who are non-visual. Non-visual thinkers may excel in fields with an emphasis on math, information gathering, and music. Consider how your mind works to help you determine your strong points.
Do you have strong attention to detail? A photographic memory? The ability to handle a lot of repetition? These can all be strengths to the right employer. Identifying these strengths will help guide you to the perfect career path.
Don't dwell on areas where you feel you're limited. Think about what opportunities your skills and abilities can lead you to instead.
Best Careers For People with Asperger's
The following are some of the most beneficial fields for people with Asperger's to not only find employment but thrive.
Accounting involves preparing, analyzing, and summarizing the financial records of individuals or businesses. Accounting is a numbers game and can be a solid career choice for those with a firm grasp on mathematics. Business or corporate accounting may be more suited for those with Asperger's as opposed to personal finance, as there is generally less face-to-face interaction. Accounting professionals can either work for a particular company or independently and are in high demand. Tax preparation is another area in which there are many jobs where keen attention to detail and memorization of facts and rules is a valuable asset.
For visual thinkers, creative work can be particularly satisfying. Creating something can give you a sense of purpose and an outlet to express yourself. Photography can be a rewarding career as many with Asperger's tend to notice the beauty in the small and unusual things that others might miss. Photography gives you a way of capturing and sharing these moments. Another position that is in demand is graphic art, including the creation of logos and web design for companies. If you have a passion for creating handmade items, you can make and sell paintings, pottery, jewelry, or other art.
Data entry involves inputting numbers or other information into a computer and is needed in many fields, from health care to education. Data entry is suitable for an individual with Asperger's who struggles with working in social settings but possesses the motor control for fast typing and the ability to handle repetition. Remote data entry jobs are relatively easy to find, allowing the individual to work independently from home with only your computer and an internet connection.
Engineering refers to work designing and improving structures, buildings, and equipment. Engineering is an exceptional line of work for those who are high-functioning on the spectrum. Visual thinkers, in particular, can transfer detailed models from their mind to the physical world. Engineers have a significant impact on the world through architectural, technological, and mechanical designs, including both works done by hand or on computers.
Journalism And Freelance Work
Journalism and other types of freelance work may be a good fit if you have a knack for recalling facts and information. There are many journalists working today who have Asperger's, and online publishing has made this field accessible for people of all types. Many of these jobs allow you to work independently on your terms, which may or may not be desirable depending on your ability to be self-motivated.
Technology is considered by many experts to be one of the best for people with Asperger's. Those that have mathematical and non-visual ways of thinking are especially adept at technological pursuits. As technology becomes increasingly more interconnected with our daily lives, careers in this field continue to expand. Areas such as computer programming and software testing are ideal for those with a desire for repetition and order. As those with Asperger's often can discern errors quickly, they can put their skills to good use. There is a great deal of potential and opportunity in this field, and while competition is strong, many of the most successful tech workers operating today have Asperger's.
Other Potential Jobs
There are many other potential lines of work that can be a perfect fit for someone with Asperger's, depending on their interest and skill level. Some include:
- Animal trainer
- Veterinary technician
- Lab technician
- Automotive mechanic
- Reference Librarian
Advice On Job Searching
The process of finding employment can often seem to be more about who you know what you can do. There are many social aspects to getting a job that may prove difficult for those with Asperger's, such as interviewing for different positions and networking. Anxiety may intensify your normal symptoms, causing you to struggle to keep eye contact, prevent yourself from fidgeting, or stop yourself from speaking impulsively.
Self-awareness is one of your best tools. Practice communicating your strengths to a potential employer and explaining any areas in which you may struggle. Build an excellent portfolio showcasing your best, most relevant work, and keep the focus on what you can provide for the company, not on your conversation skills. Many potential employers appreciate this approach as they're looking for the best client for the job. Any business that this method doesn't work for would not be a good long term fit.
If you're not sure of which career to pursue, consider seeking the advice of a job coach or therapist that specializes in Asperger's. These professionals have experience and knowledge in helping people with Asperger's achieve success.
Why An Appropriate Work Environment Matters
People with Asperger's often struggle with integrating sensory input from their environment. An individual may find it difficult to ignore annoying sensations, become anxious in areas with bright lights or sudden noises, or get overstimulated easily. These sensitivities can have a significant effect on his or her job performance. While therapy involving sensory integration can help you better manage these issues, you can't eliminate them. Choosing a work environment that supports the way your body and brain function is the best way to ensure long-term success.
You may be well aware of your own sensory or social triggers and know what to avoid. If not, consider your experience at school or work. Can you identify any triggers that made you anxious or otherwise uncomfortable? Would the job you're considering have any of these triggers in the environment? If so, is there a way to minimize the problem?
Accommodating the unique way your brain processes information, instead of trying to fight against it, will help you locate the ideal work environment.
Connecting With A Therapist
Navigating the job market is stressful for anyone, but the process presents unique challenges for adults with autism spectrum disorders. Speaking to a therapist with experience treating Asperger syndrome in adults is one option to help you alleviate your stress, cope with disappointments, and develop coping strategies to persevere. Online therapy is an affordable, accessible way for you to speak to someone when you need it, regardless of your schedule.