Many parents wonder if they should let their teen with Asperger’s get a job. You may be worried about how your teen will handle the responsibility, pressure and skill that is required of an employee. Part-time jobs can have many benefits for those with Asperger’s Syndrome; a job can help develop social skills, ease the transition into independent living and help acquire skills and experience while they’re still in school. The secret to ensuring your teen is successful in the workforce is to seek out a job that highlights your child’s strengths and minimizes his or her weaknesses.
Reasons to Get A Job
For most people, a paycheck is the motivation to get a job, however it is not the only reason to seek employment. Part-time job benefits beyond pay may include:
- Structure and routine
- Building of social skills
- Marketable experience
- Understanding of daily operations and politics
Before you and your teen start job hunting, think about what he/she hopes to accomplish from work. If earning a paycheck is not top of the list, there may be many volunteer or internship opportunities that offer valuable alternative benefits.
Finding a Job That Fits
Finding the right job for your child can make all the difference between a positive learning experience and struggling to handle the new responsibility. You’ll want to consider your teen’s strengths, weaknesses and interests. Keep in mind that one of the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome is poor short-term memory, but higher than average long-term memory, which means that many of the typical “first jobs” might not work for your teen, such as cashiers, fast food worker and waiting tables. Consider opportunities that aren’t as reliant on short-term memory and, instead, have a clear end goal, such as landscaping or lawn care, stocking shelves, cleaning offices or warehouse work.
Many people with Asperger’s have special interests that contribute to their confidence and happiness and these interests can often translate to highly marketable employment skills. For instance, if your teen has a great eye for photography you can contact a local photographer and inquire about an internship, be it paid or unpaid. Likewise, if your child has a knack for repairing computers, reach out to a local computer repair shop to find out about possible employment opportunities.
As you prepare your teen for a working environment, remember that people with Asperger Syndrome frequently struggle with the basic employment requirements, such as arriving on time, handling emotions and accepting criticism. Once they conquer these aspects they often go on to have successful high level careers.
Interested in more resources to help find the ideal job for your child? The Spectrum Careers is a free online service dedicated to matching those on the spectrum with their best employment opportunities. Find out more here.