For people with autism and their families, transitioning from school to a career can be challenging. You may feel uncertain about which careers will be a good fit or wonder how to turn interests into income.
Several practical tips help people with autism find a career that utilizes their interests, talents, and skills.
Discover Your Child’s Interests
Spend time with your teen, and you will discover the activities and topics that interest her. She may love to draw, ride horses, program computers or talk nonstop about certain topics. Those interests have captured her attention and focus, and can be a powerful vehicle for pursuing employment opportunities in the future.
If your child is less vocal about his interests, or likes a variety of different things equally, answer the following questions. They will help you determine what type of career he may enjoy.
- What activities does your child gravitate toward?
- At what skills or subjects does your child excel?
- How does your child prefer to spend his time?
- What motivates your child to do her best?
- What excites your child?
- What types of situations make your child feel anxious?
- How successful is your child at self-regulating?
- What sensory challenges does your child experience?
- How well does your child multitask?
- How does your child handle distractions?
- Is your child organized?
- How developed are your child’s social skills?
- Does your child prefer to do one thing all day or switch tasks?
- Does your child operate better alone or around other people?
Transition Interests Into Marketable Skills
After you identify your child’s interests, look for ways your child can make money while practicing those interests. If he enjoys playing video games, introduce him to programming or graphic design. Likewise, your child could pursue a career in finance if he’s a detailed person or stock shelves if he likes to organize things.
Find and Consult a Mentor
A teacher, relative, neighbor, or professional with real-world experience can help your child identify her interests and discover ways she can make money while doing what she loves. A mentor can also supervise training opportunities or provide a mock or real job, which allows your child to experience her career options firsthand.
Find a mentor at school, through your caseworker or via the community. With help from a mentor, your child can identify potential career paths and understand the steps she needs to take to pursue advanced education or other training that prepares her for a successful future.
Research Autism Employment and Career Resources
In addition to analyzing your child’s interests, look into a few employment and career resources that can help your child choose a career or find a job.
Find career assistance from local, regional and nationwide organizations when you search Autism Source. The Autism Society of America maintains this online directory of helpful resources for adults with autism.
The Community Services for Autistic Adults and Children (CAASC) supports adults with autism and provides skill assessment, job coaching, and public transportation skill development.
The organization also educates co-workers and provides workplace safety training as it strives to equip individuals with autism for success.
On the Getting Hired website, inclusive employers post jobs, allowing you use the site to research potential employers and explore career options.
Job Accommodation Network
Developed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disabilities Employment Policy, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides resources for individuals with autism and their employers.
A career test, the RIASEC helps your child hone in on his interests and narrow down possible career paths.
Your child can receive life skill and vocational training through the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC). The organization also supports families as it works to improve the quality of life and employability of all autistic adults.
On the Indiana Resource Center for Autism page, professor, author, and speaker Temple Grandin lists potential jobs for all individuals on the autism spectrum. Her suggestions can prompt your child to consider career options and work on developing the skills needed for success in those careers.
Think Beyond the Label
Find employment resources, local jobs and other valuable information at Think Beyond the Label, a site designed to support people with disabilities in the workforce.
Consider Non-Traditional Employment Opportunities
In addition to the traditional full-time job, your child with autism may thrive in a non-traditional work environment. He could choose to work different seasonal jobs throughout the year or start his own business.
Freelancing, part-time work, and job sharing are other options. In each case, your child can put his interests to work and match his sensory, social and other needs.
People with autism possess a vast array of talents, skills, and interests that can transform into a successful career. As parents, you can use these tips to help your children discover and hone their talents and assist them in choosing a career that fits their abilities.