A recent study by the autism research body Amaze shows that more than half of children with autism don’t get the education they need. A large number go on to lack proper teaching afterward. This seems to correlate with poverty — a third of adults on the Spectrum rely on welfare payments.
So much for the professors and blackjack sharks that Hollywood makes us into.
What can we do? There must be a way to get along in society and not be left behind. We’ve made it this far, most of us have friends and opportunities.
And there are solutions.
Every one of us belongs somewhere. But how does that translate to getting what we need?
Well, our minds are a little separate from the neurotypical world, so it starts by thinking a little different.
People with autism tend to be specialised in their thinking. Okay, that’s an understatement. We get fixated, we fall in love with super specific things.
Now think of those things as talents.
Someone out there needs a talent but doesn’t have the time to develop it themselves. When someone else’s talent is worth their money, a job is created. A job is a skill you have that someone else needs.
How do I find out what someone else needs?
First, I’m going to tell you. Then we’ll look at the skill that goes into those all-important jobs, and the core skills that help fulfill this job. When you know the core skills in the things you like doing, you can start hustling. This bit is going to look like the start of a video game when you choose your skills, and that’s because it’s much the same, but the game is that great chaotic MMO known as Outside.
Core skills: Data analysis, learning, problem solving, logic
Core skills: Discipline, logic, creativity, problem solving, learning
Core skills: Logic, learning, people skills, problem solving
Core skills: Logic, creativity, people skills, learning
Core skills: People skills, logic, creativity
Core skills: People skills, management, creativity
Core skills: Strength, logic, problem solving, discipline
Problem solving, learning
Multiplayer video games
People skills, management, problem solving, learning
Strength, discipline, people skills (for team sports)
Discipline, learning, logic
Arts (like writing, visual art, music and others)
Creativity, discipline, learning
These are very specific jobs and hobbies, but they use major parts of the brain. You definitely have enough brain for a job.
If you still have no clue what you might be able to do for your community, take a moment and think about how you enjoy spending your time.
Now Google ‘job listings‘. In most of those results you’ll find a list of different jobs that are available right now. The more jobs of one kind there are, the more your community needs it done. Try to figure out which ones have similar motions, activities or ways of thinking that you enjoy.
If you see or think of a job that uses your core skills every day, chances are you can learn to enjoy it. Now the real fulfillment begins. If you’re on the Spectrum there’s a chance that you’re not ready to handle full-time work yet. Things that make other people tired can really hurt us inside, but some of us can learn to be okay with it. Maybe my gradual exposure technique is worth a try:
Do as much as you can before it gets difficult. Write down or record how much time you could handle and how hard you worked at it. If something made you too uncomfortable to work, find out if you can work without being around the thing that caused your discomfort. Sometimes hard work causes it. If that happens, you need to rest. You did great. Everyone is different which is why this part can take days or years, and every day you deserve to be proud of yourself for trying. Every worker takes breaks.
Rest as long as you need to, do something and be somewhere you can relax, then try to do it for a little bit longer. Your mind will expand and stretch like a muscle, and you’ll get used to the task. You can do this until you can handle any amount of work.
Always train yourself. Look at the kind of work you think you could do, find out how you could do it in a way you enjoy and start a project. Make something you could show to people who need your skills. Be happy and comfortable, this is your hobby after all. We want to be happy and paid, not uncomfortable and unpaid.
Now, try to let yourself be confident. Whatever skills we have, however our minds work, we deserve to be alive and useful. It’s time we acted like it.