There is hardly a person on the autism spectrum that has not had to contend with the fact that their job prospects are not as bright as those of the next person. While this paints a true scenario, the situation is not entirely hopeless. There are many autistic people who go on to be gainfully employed, some in more than one job. Others go on to successfully start and run business, some in more than one endeavour. You can only go as far as your mind is willing to reach, and this is true even for those on the autism spectrum. That said, here are a few tips that could help brighten those prospects a little and make the process of job hunting easier.
Find What You Are Passionate About and Maximise It
Many people today join the job market today without a clear cut plan. This is no surprise; they are endowed with the extra energy and opportunity to spare. As an autistic individual you don’t have this luxury. You are better off creating your own opportunities based on what you find yourself passionate about. Predictably, this may take a lot of work, but this is a burden you will find easier to bear since you will be working on something you love.
Don’t Shy Away From Asking Questions
Back in school we are taught that the only stupid question is the one that remains unasked. No matter what field you are thinking of entering or in which you already find yourself, asking questions is one of the shortest routes to any success you envision for yourself. By the very nature of their condition, those struggling with autism may find this a very difficult bridge to cross but not an impossible one. Educators charged with imparting social skills should take the time to teach self-advocacy to boost the chances of success in the job market and life in general. Remember: the traveller who asks questions never loses his way.
Do Your Research
Research is vital! But this is not just any sort of research. We are talking about a double tiered sort of research that digs internally, before spreading outwardly. By internal research, autistic individuals should try to adopt and implement the points already listed above. Find out what your strengths are? Find out how you can capitalise on them. Somebody who knows you intimately enough like a parent or teacher or even a close friend if you have one could be instrumental in this process. When you have owned the results of your internal research it is time to point outward with your external research. Who is hiring? If nobody, are there any internships or volunteer opportunities available that you could avail yourself of? Internships are great conduits of experience that may ultimately lead to entry-level employment within organisations and companies. At the very least, internships look great on a CV; giving them the power to make or break your next job interview.
Don’t Shy Away From Learning Experiences
As an autistic you have already lived a lifetime in a few short years. Keeping a nine to five is nothing compared to the stringent routines of therapy which you have had to grow accustomed to and accept as a fact of life, talk less of the hard work necessary to build on yourself to the point where you can be employed today. Hard work is part and parcel of who you are. No matter the challenge you see before you, go for it! Don’t pass it up without testing it out first. Be clear and up front about the accommodations that you require at the work place, and then go for it. After a while you should have a clearer picture to judge.
Never Sell Yourself Short
It does not matter if you were rejected the last 50 times you went looking for a job. You have a unique gift to offer-never sell yourself short. Go into the interview room with the mantra that no matter if you are on the autism spectrum or not, you can achieve greatness if you want to. Go in confidence searching for work that best suits your passions and skills. There are several spaces out there that are in dire need of someone like you. So don’t sell yourself short, especially if you are really good at what you do.
There are several services that can help out those with autism with their search for employment. For example:
- In Wales, there is Careers Wales that offers advice about career choices, job options, and learning for young people and adults.
- In Northern Ireland, there is the Careers Service Northern Ireland that employs Disablement Employment Advisors (or DEAs) to aid adults with disabilities to find gainful employment, or useful training. They often render advise to employers about adapting the workplace or about how to support the disabled people at work. This service also offers career advice as well.
- Scotland has Skills Development Scotland which supports people who are in search of a job or contemplating future career options. In addition to that, the affiliated charity’s Moving Forward Project caters to autistics who are aged 16-25 years old and are interested in looking for work, college opportunities, university opportunities and volunteer opportunities.
- In England, there is the National Careers Service that offers advice on choosing or changing your career. They also offer skills tests, and personalised help from career advisors.
All in all, autistic people should never lose in the hope in their search. Contrary to what many believe, they have a lot to offer, an argument exemplified by this quote, “People with autism have some very valuable skills which can be applied in the workplace. They might have very good attention to detail, or be really good at sticking to routines and timetables. Therefore, are likely to be very punctual and reliable. Everyone has different skills but there will always be something.”
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