Author Topic: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?  (Read 16510 times)

frugaldrummer

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Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« on: January 25, 2015, 03:43:07 PM »
My oldest son has very mild Asperger's syndrome which wasn't really diagnosed until he was an adult.  He's very bright but struggled in college due to depression and social anxiety related to his Asperger's.  He's very extroverted, but has difficulty reading social cues (he's the guy who stands too close, talks too loud, goes on about Star Wars....you get the picture.)

He's finally about to graduate from a prestigious university with a degree in History (he started as a bio major but it was too much for him when his depression and other issues hit).

He's doing well now, but a history degree is unlikely to get him a good job in this market.  Certain jobs are off the table due to his issues with social skills (he would not be successful as a schoolteacher, for example, because he would be unable to manage the social skills needed to deal with parents and misbehaving students).  I realize he will need to acquire some more concrete skills in order to get a good-paying job in this economy. 

What kinds of occupations are young people finding good employment in these days?  His skills, as I see them:
 - good writer with excellent English grammar and composition skills (writes fiction as a hobby)
 - good at repetitive jobs or jobs requiring rapid response/multitasking (too bad old-fashioned switchboard operators no longer exist, he would have been great at that)
 - science and math background
 - cheerful and reliable employee
 - extroverted and enjoys people contact at work
 - enthusiastic about food, the Marvel comics universe, science fiction and fantasy novels
 - a stickler for following rules and protocols
 
Weaknesses -
 - not very self-actuated (does better with clear instructions and rules, wouldn't be good at just "figuring it out himself". Better as a follower than a leader)
 - might talk a little too much when waiting on customers (although very cheerful and outgoing while doing so)
 - not into computer programming (although he did take some classes in high school, it's not really his thing - too bad, because he would fit in well with programmers.  Would not have any trouble learning to use any software associated with a job.)
 - squeamish (wouldn't make a good surgery tech, for example)
 - not super athletic (although his current job stocking grocery store shelves at night is physical)

I'd appreciate any and all suggestions for career paths that might earn him a decent living (enough to move away from mom eventually and be self-sufficient and happy), and fit in with his abilities.  Or any side gigs that might earn him extra $$ with his skills.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2015, 03:45:53 PM »
I don't mean this in a flip way at all.  I have worked with several lawyers that I would swear have Aspergers or otherwise have social interaction issues.  It is not that uncommon in that profession.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2015, 03:52:36 PM »
Yes, not too uncommon in medicine either ;) 

Don't think he's interested in law at all (plus the adversarial aspect of most law would be a problem for him) - and there is a surplus of law grads at the moment, don't think job prospects are all that great.

Goldielocks

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2015, 04:04:16 PM »
Mild Aspergers should not be a big detractor from working in most professions...

Two areas that would be hard -- Acting, and maybe kindergarten teacher for which showing empathy and an keen understanding of human nature , and ability to flex rules situationally is very important in order to do well.

All others are a go -- he may be the "quirky one", but we all work with the "different" personalities, labelled or not.

Cassie

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 04:04:38 PM »
Every state has a Vocational Rehabilitation program which would provide career testing, career counseling/guidance to help him pick an appropriate profession.  They also provide job search assistance. This program is a federally funded program since 1973 & the states kick in some $ too.  It is specifically for people with disabilities so they can enter & maintain employment.  It is usually free unless he is making tons of $ which does not appear to be the case. Everyone's tax $ goes to help so in essence you have paid for it.  I worked in this area for years in 3 different states & all the programs are run basically the same because they have to follow federal guidelines since they get fed $.  I am surprised that his high school counselor did not tell you about this.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2015, 04:13:03 PM »
He was not diagnosed until college. Previous testing yielded nothing, it wasn't until a neighbor who coaches Aspergers adults pointed it out that it all  made sense. He's so mild, most people would not pick up on it. He doesn't need a voc rehab job coach (he does work with an Aspergers guy who is much more severe who got his job at the grocery store through that program).

I think what he needs most is some specific skill that will make him valued in the job market despite his subtle social deficits.  But career testing makes sense.

desk_jockey

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 04:14:18 PM »
Last year I forwarded an yahoo article to a friend who is facing the same issue with his son who recently graduated from high school.   It was about how some European software companies have been hiring autism spectrum people for software quality control.   Apparently they've found they can be good resources for reviewing 1000s of lines of someone else's code for errors.   

The yahoo article is going but here are two links related:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-program-at-sap-hires-autistic-adults-for-specialized-skills/
http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304418404579465561364868556


 

Future Lazy

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2015, 04:15:27 PM »
Perhaps something related to museum studies?

frugaldrummer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2015, 04:16:50 PM »
Actually, he's not at all lacking in empathy...very sensitive and kind actually.  But he would be likely to get exasperated with parents and students.

Cassie

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2015, 04:26:04 PM »
Most people with Asberger's do not need job coaches but the career testing/counseling/guidance & counselors that know the job market can make a big difference in getting that first job.  Also they hire job placement specialists to help clients get jobs & often have connections with employers that can really help.  If does not matter about not being diagnosed previously-he can get diagnosed now in order to qualify for services. Also VR can pay for additional job training if it is needed in addition to his degree.  We have worked with everyone from very low functioning to people with PhD's.

Annamal

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2015, 04:35:28 PM »
Focusing on his qualification in History (my partner's got a PHD in it so I know the kinds of jobs that he and his cohort tend to get...at least here in NZ), he sounds like an absolutely ideal historical researcher.

Basically the job consists of sifting through old documents, like newspapers, deeds and shipping manifests in search of information relating to specific topic. Sometimes you'll be scanning in documents, other times you will be reading scanned documents and tagging them or recording notes in spread-sheets.

It struck me as the most boring job in the world (and my partner barely survived the summer doing it) but for someone with an orderly mind, a close eye for detail and a willingness to engage in repetitive tasks, it might be damn near perfect.

Flynlow

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2015, 05:11:41 PM »
Picking up on your switchboard operator idea.....how about working in an auto assembly plant?

Today they are quite clean and safe, and the pay is very good, with retirement and health benefits.  It will probably start off as shift work, but a reliable employee who does a good job, shows up on time, and doesn't create any drama will quickly get to pick their shift (typically night or day) and have opportunities to move up.

Personally, I would avoid the American/UAW plants, only because of the additional odd union rules.  Honda/Toyota/Nissan have plants throughout the US, and VW/BMW/Mercedes have plants in the Mid-Atlantic.

I believe you can start out with no degree at $50K+.

justajane

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2015, 06:13:03 PM »
What about history consulting?

Here are two of the major firms:
http://hrassoc.com/
http://www.historyassociates.com/

I'm a history Ph.D. and explored these options a while ago, but I wasn't willing to relocate. From what I understand, companies hire them to do various historical research. It is usually archival in nature and also involves a lot of writing.

lifejoy

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2015, 06:45:06 PM »
Libraries? I worked with a guy that I suspect had aspergers.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2015, 07:44:49 PM »
My mom works for the library, the pay is good per hour but they mostly only hire part timers, so you really can't make a good living.   I'll look into the history research stuff.

horsepoor

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2015, 07:59:51 PM »
Technical writing is coming to mind.  Writer/editor work is great for attention to detail, can be repetitive, but does have a social element in working with clients and collaborating authors, but is not overwhelmingly social (though that doesn't sound like an issue).

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2015, 08:28:05 PM »
Accounting and Manufacturing are two fields where his precision/quality would be an asset.

TreeTired

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2015, 08:40:49 PM »
My son recently got a job at a new grocery store. (I laughed when I got to the part in your post about your son working in a grocery store)  They are training him to work in the deli department,  slicing meat and cheese type stuff.   We are happy that he has a J-O-B of any kind.   Going to work is far better than lying around the house.  We will worry about a "career" later.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2015, 09:10:34 PM »
Yes, my son's first job was bagging groceries in our local grocery in high school, later he worked in the bakery there. Now he's working at a different chain, he likes the store management there. I suspect they put him on the night shift because his tendency to talk too much wouldn't be a problem there lol.

But even with the extra pittance they pay him for working nights, the pay is still pretty minimal; if he wasn't living with me he'd have a hard time getting by on it.  He's happy to have a job, but long term he needs a career.

totoro

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2015, 09:32:41 PM »
What about paralegal?  I would hire a paralegal with those character traits no problem if they had good attention to details and rules and liked to research and write.  Paralegals make over $50,000 in Canada.  I suspect a number of lawyers would feel the same.

MDM

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2015, 10:01:19 PM »
Technical writing is coming to mind.  Writer/editor work is great for attention to detail, can be repetitive, but does have a social element in working with clients and collaborating authors, but is not overwhelmingly social (though that doesn't sound like an issue).
+1 

"Technical writer" is exactly the job I thought of when reading the OP quote below - well, except for the Marvel part. ;)
Quote
- good writer with excellent English grammar and composition skills (writes fiction as a hobby)
 - good at repetitive jobs or jobs requiring rapid response/multitasking (too bad old-fashioned switchboard operators no longer exist, he would have been great at that)
 - science and math background
 - cheerful and reliable employee
 - extroverted and enjoys people contact at work
 - enthusiastic about food, the Marvel comics universe, science fiction and fantasy novels
 - a stickler for following rules and protocols

expatartist

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2015, 10:05:14 PM »
Penelope Trunk often writes about Aspergers and careers, some of it may be helpful (some is TMI): http://penelopetrunk.com/?s=aspergers&submit=Search&searchblogs=1%2C2%2C3%2C4

Moonwaves

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2015, 05:55:12 AM »
Your comment on switchboard work (which does still exist, by the way, albeit only at a company level and usually combined with receptionist duties) immediately made me think of call centres. If he enjoys repetitive work (including having the patience to answer the same questions over and over again) that might be something that would allow him plenty of contact without intruding on physical boundaries and making people feel uncomfortable. Having spent a few years working in call centres (2 years customer service for a software manufacturer and 3.5 years tech support for a hardware manufacturer) I'd normally say that I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Yet there are people who it suits and who suit it.

Phil_Moore

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2015, 06:02:38 AM »
What about paralegal?  I would hire a paralegal with those character traits no problem if they had good attention to details and rules and liked to research and write.  Paralegals make over $50,000 in Canada.  I suspect a number of lawyers would feel the same.

That is exactly what I was going to suggest.

To be honest he sounds like a good fit for almost any back-office function: compliance, settlements/invoicing, treasury, contracts, risk, credit etc.

People who are good at maths, repetitive tasks and following rules? That's money for an employer right there.


MayDay

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2015, 06:16:08 AM »
We suspect my 7 year old has very mild ASD.  He's been tested and is very borderline, so whether it's ever official our not, he has many of the characteristics. 

I am hoping if he doesn't want to do an ASD-friendly engineering/computer science type major that he considers becoming either a plumber or electrician or similar.  His "special interest" is electricity and I think he would make an amazing line man for a power company. 

My biggest parenting worry with him is someday tackling exactly what you are in the middle of.  I expect we may have several false starts, and he may not fully launch until his mid to late 20's. 

pagoconcheques

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2015, 06:29:42 AM »
+1 on the technical writing.  It often involves working with computer scientists/programmers so he'll be in good company. 

Consider a military career.  He'll get the command structure he benefits from and there is high demand for "squints" who do highly structured analysis.  Also, if he starts with a college degree he won't be at the bottom of the totem pole.  Don't just send him down to the local recruiter--network and talk with some people who have military careers to get a better understanding of the landscape before sitting down in front of a recruiter who just wants a signature at the bottom of the page. 

former player

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2015, 11:25:50 AM »
I'd suggest he looks at public sector jobs, as they tend to put much less emphasis on the social schmoozing side of things and could play to a lot of his strengths.

TheOfficeLady

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2015, 11:39:51 AM »
He could get trained in accounting and then become an auditor. They make tons of money.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2015, 12:58:03 PM »
He might try working in a materials testing lab for a local engineering firm or construction company. He doesn't need an engineering degree, and his background in science and math will really help him out. My husband has never been diagnosed, but I strongly suspect he has Asperger's, and he LOVED this job (he has since moved on to civil engineering). It's ALL ABOUT the protocol, with clear rules and expectations. Oftentimes these labs are full of nerdy guys who love playing with dirt, so he'd likely have some good company. It's usually a seasonal job from about April to October, but the hourly pay is good and there is usually lots of overtime--enough to probably tide him over for the year if you teach him about budgeting.

strongmag

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2015, 05:30:03 PM »
Sounds a bit like my brother, who is on the spectrum as well. He is doing great as a tax accountant - tons of rules that he has to memorize and apply correctly, some writing, but he seems to do ok in high pressure situations (tax season) which wouldn't suit everyone. It is a pretty good career and is always in demand, which is good in case a manager doesn't "get" his personality. Good luck to your son.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2015, 08:17:12 PM »
Penelope Trunk often writes about Aspergers and careers, some of it may be helpful (some is TMI): http://penelopetrunk.com/?s=aspergers&submit=Search&searchblogs=1%2C2%2C3%2C4

I have been racking my brain trying to remember the blog I used to occasionally read and this was it! Thanks for the reminder.

mlipps

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2015, 08:28:18 PM »
Penelope Trunk often writes about Aspergers and careers, some of it may be helpful (some is TMI): http://penelopetrunk.com/?s=aspergers&submit=Search&searchblogs=1%2C2%2C3%2C4

I have been racking my brain trying to remember the blog I used to occasionally read and this was it! Thanks for the reminder.

That blog is full of half interesting things and half WTF moments. It confuses me. I had to stop reading it because she stressed me out so much.

Jacana

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2015, 10:02:38 PM »
Have you looked into anything with data management, digitalization, or even GIS (mapping data) in a non-tech field he finds interesting? Starting out with simple data entry, perhaps, but beyond that there are so many places that seem to need people who can manage, modify,  QA/QC, summarize, run stats, etc for massive databases. I don't mean computer programming, but learning software like Excel, Access, Oracle, VBA, SAS, R, ArcGIS.

I know some biology/geology fields need people who actually like sitting in the back room processing files and compiling data, or digitalizing old data because everyone else wants to be in the field or the lab doing fun stuff. I did that for an organization for one contract. It was a huge mess because the previous research assistant was an amazing field assistant and completely useless with computers. That position was working in hydrology/ecology but there may be similar types of jobs in other fun fields. And the social interactions would be mostly with the group/lab/team, not the general public or sales.

Lyssa

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2015, 11:36:48 AM »
We suspect my 7 year old has very mild ASD.  He's been tested and is very borderline, so whether it's ever official our not, he has many of the characteristics. 

I am hoping if he doesn't want to do an ASD-friendly engineering/computer science type major that he considers becoming either a plumber or electrician or similar.  His "special interest" is electricity and I think he would make an amazing line man for a power company. 

My biggest parenting worry with him is someday tackling exactly what you are in the middle of.  I expect we may have several false starts, and he may not fully launch until his mid to late 20's.

If its mild at 7 chances are good that he can adjust just fine in the next ten years. By todays standards I very probably would have been somewhere on the spectrum as a seven year old. Back in the 80ties, early 90ties I was just odd and not very popular. I'm working as a lawyer today and no autistic tendencies are apparent to the vast majority of people whom I interact with. I've 'launched' at 19, live together with my SO since two years (that one really surprised my parents) and even learned to small talk a little bit. :-)

People know better than to invite me for afterwork drinks but I've made friends who like to meet for movies and board games.

Try not to worry to much. Your son has plenty of time and might surprise you. Encourage him to step out of his comfort zone without forcing anything. And appreciate the strengths that can come from caring rather little what others think of him.

historienne

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Re: Career ideas for son with mild Asperger's?
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2015, 12:32:34 PM »
Ditto on technical writing and paralegal work.  For the latter, it would be important to find a firm that has a decent culture (there's a genre of law firm that allows higher-ups to be pretty nasty to support staff, which could exacerbate social anxiety issues).