Everybody should have access to fulfilling employment, no matter what circumstances life may throw at you. Of course, different jobs will have different physical and/or cognitive requirements, but it is important to understand that just because you may be on the autism spectrum, this doesn’t arbitrarily disqualify you from a range of different career options.
As we now know, the autism spectrum is a broad one, and just like anybody else, those on this spectrum have their own unique strengths that can be of great value to potential employers. That is not to say that living with autism does not come with its own set of unique challenges when finding the right career path, but with some help, a meaningful and economically successful professional life is not out of reach.
Finding a Suitable Career Path
Whether you’re on the spectrum or not, the most important thing to figure out is where your interests and strengths lie. Are you good with numbers? Are you analytical? Perhaps you’re a strong visual thinker with good long-term memory?
It may also be worth thinking about the kinds of environments you like to be in. Quiet and calm? Maybe you’d prefer to work from home?
Taking these considerations into account may lead you towards a computer-based career working with numbers and other data. Or they may lead you towards more of a hands-on vocational occupation.
Figuring these things out isn’t easy, so it’s always a good idea to seek out career advice services to help you decide on the best approach towards a fulfilling working life. Additionally, if you have NDIS fund management, then it’s worth speaking to your plan manager to make sure the financial side of this support service is taken care of.
Let’s Look at the Possibilities
- Working with computers
If your strengths lie in numbers and data, you may consider careers such as accounting, data analysis, data entry, computer programming, software engineering/testing etc.
Jobs like these often require exceptional attention to detail and can benefit those who like to work with minimal social interaction. Many also require tertiary education, which can present a challenge for some who struggle with social interactions, but most tertiary courses are now offered online.
Jobs in these fields usually attract high salaries and are therefore very competitive, but for many people with high functioning autism the ability to concentrate on very specific numerical and data driven tasks can be a huge advantage.
- Working with objects and mechanics
You may find your strengths lie in figuring out how things work. In which case, engineering, architecture, auto mechanics, plumbing or carpentry may be a great fit for you.
Many of these jobs also require either tertiary education or a trade apprenticeship. Some also require working in busier and noisier environments, and with other people. This may not be a problem for some people, but those who struggle with social interaction may find some of these jobs more challenging than others.
Given the training required to have these types of careers, their salaries also tend to be quite attractive.
- Repetitive work
Some people enjoy a structured and repetitive occupation with clearly defined tasks. Examples of this include factory work, cashier, catering or baking.
Environments like these can sometimes be high pressure, or require a bit more social interaction than others, but they often follow a routine which can make them quite appealing to some.
- Working with Animals
Many people with autism are great with animals and may choose a career path that allows them to spend a lot of time with our furry friends. This may be as a veterinarian, vet nurse or dog trainer.
This can allow for a lot of one-on-one time with animals which for some may be an ideal working situation.
- Creative work
For some, autism manifests in extremely creative ways. This has resulted in great works of art, both visually and musically. The arts aren’t the most stable or secure career paths, however, so it may be a good idea to apply artistic skill in more economically viable ways.
A career in photography or writing can be a great way for a person to utilise creative abilities and apply them to a more practical trade.
Most of these careers have clearly defined pathways to entry, many of which are through tertiary education or vocational training. Others, however, may require some more planning. Either way it is always beneficial to seek advice from a careers advisor who may be able to work with you to identify where your strengths lie, and what is likely to be the best pathway towards achieving your goals.
Everybody deserves the chance to find meaningful and suitable work, and in doing so be able to earn a sufficient wage for a happy and independent life. Good luck!