Jobs for People with High Functioning Autism
- Medical Laboratory Scientist
- Computer Programmer
- Reference Librarian
- Taxi Driver
For individuals with high functioning autism, it is sometimes difficult to perform well in a society and workplace that values extroversion and working in teams. The small talk by the water cooler and in the elevator are excruciating. Having to participate in meetings can sometimes be a disaster. That rules out a lot of jobs that involve having to interact with different people throughout the day. Individuals with high functioning autism perform best in jobs that require attention to detail and skill mastery but that do not require negotiating with others. Here are five examples of such jobs.
1. Medical Laboratory Scientist
Also known as medical laboratory technologists, these scientists work in hospital laboratories and are in charge of running a complex array of machines and instruments that analyze blood, urine, tissue, and other substances. The job typically requires a bachelor’s degree in medical technology or life sciences. Some states require licensure. The job requires a vast array of knowledge, such as in the areas of cytotechnology and medical biology. Because laboratory results need to be precise and accurate, technologists must be detail oriented and have the dexterity to handle medical samples and instruments effectively. Pay is about $50,000 per year and the job outlook is excellent, with a growth of 16% in 2014. Individuals with high functioning autism would be comfortable in a work environment that focuses on using their technical skills rather than their conversational skills.
2. Computer Programmer
Computer programming is very suitable for individuals with high functioning autism, especially those that are visual thinkers. Programming involves “coding,” which is using algorithms to generate executable computer programs. Knowledge of coding language such as C++, Java, Cobol, Fortran, and Basic are required to create computer software. Programmers may choose to freelance or work for big companies like Google and Facebook. They can work in many fields including software design, industrial automation, or communications and network systems. While many enter the field through majoring in computer science at a university, formal education is not required. It is possible to self-teach and master the coding language required to become a programmer. This is a job that will satisfy the intellectual curiosity of autistic individuals.
3. Reference Librarian
Library science can make a fulfilling career for individuals with high functioning autism who like to learn the details of any and every subject. The ability to be organized and think critically makes this job suitable for those with patience and attention to detail. The role of the reference librarian is to help library users with research by finding the appropriate books and resources, cataloging an entire library’s books, and checking out books to patrons. Reference librarians need to be knowledgeable on a wide range of topics. They can be employed by colleges, the government, museums, and other information services. Many jobs require a masters in library science.
4. Taxi Driver
Taxi driving is a great job for individuals with high functioning autism to tend to remember every single street and have above average visuospatial intelligence. Although modern GPS systems have replaced maps, being a taxi driver who has a picture perfect memory of every street in their memory is always helpful for finding the best route. Driving is an activity that requires concentration and manual dexterity and is suitable for individuals who like the challenge of bring people to their destinations in an efficient manner. Riders will also appreciate talking to a driver that is straightforward and knowledgeable about the area. And if the conversation does not go well, it’s okay because the driver is off the hook once they arrive at their destination.
It may seem surprising to recommend telemarketing as a job for individuals with high functioning autism. After all, telemarketing requires talking to strangers on the phone all day and selling them a service. However, telemarketers often follow a detailed script. Unlike everyday conversations that happen without a script, these telemarketing conversations are very predictable. Individuals with autism will appreciate having a formula to follow and knowing the direction of every conversation that they will have on the job. Even autistic individuals can love interaction, even if they may feel uncomfortable under some circumstances. Telemarketing allows them to practice and use conversation, without having to deal with the conflicts that may arise in face-to-face communication. Many companies hire telemarketers with a wide range of degrees, and much can be learned on the job as well.
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In conclusion, individuals with high functioning autism can perform well and be happy in many different jobs. Some require more interaction with people, but the key is keeping the interactions in a predictable environment, where the goal of each conversation is clear. Some jobs require artistic ability, others require visuospatial intelligence. Whatever their interest may be, high functioning individuals have a vast array of fields to dedicate their careers to.