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Employment Problems for Young Adults with Asperger's and HFA

“Is it common for young adults on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum to have a hard time finding employment and to struggle in the workplace when they do get a job? My 22 year old son who is still living at home basically floats from one job to the next, separated by lengthy periods of unemployment. Do you have any advice regarding how he can find the right job for him and stick with it?”

I wouldn’t say it’s “common,” but it’s true that some grown-ups with Asperger’s (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) fail to meet entry requirements for jobs in their area of training, or fail to attain a job because of their poor interview skills, social skills deficits, eccentricities, or anxiety attacks.

Having failed to secure skilled employment that is commensurate with their level of training, some of these AS or HFA adults are helped by well-meaning family members or friends to find a manual job. But as a result of their typically poor visual-motor skills, they may once again fail, leading to demoralizing emotional implications.

Thus, it’s crucial that these folks are trained for - and placed in - jobs where they (a) are not neuro-psychologically impaired, (b) will enjoy a certain degree of support and shelter, and (c) are not required to deal with intensive social demands.

In helping adults on the autism spectrum to obtain employment, there is a great need to foster the development of existent talents and special interests in a way as to transform them into marketable skills. However, this is only part of the task to secure and maintain a good job.

Equal attention should be paid to the social demands defined by the nature of the job (e.g., what to do during meal breaks, contact with the public or co-workers, any other unstructured activity requiring social adjustment or improvisation). 

Launching Adult Children with Aspergers and HFA: How to Promote Self-Reliance


Anonymous said... Executive functioning in the Asperger's/HFA brain is, by definition, significantly altered when compared to the neuro-typical brain. Impulse control, hypersensitivity to one's surroundings, perfectionism, hyper-obsessive pursuit of one's own interests as a coping mechanism, and the corresponding low self-esteem and depression that results from repeated failure can significantly impede one's goals in life. Family members and loved ones with HFA and Asperger's Syndrome need to educate themselves about executive dysfunction in the brains of children and young adults on the high functioning end of the spectrum BEFORE they leave high school. Many problems can be alleviated through education. We aspies need to know our weaknesses as well as our strengths, and our loved ones need to know the biology and neurology of our 'difference'.
Anonymous said... I have had a massive problem keeping employment, It has driven me nuts. I have had jobs for 4 years but prior to that was sacked after 6 months or less repeatedly. It has almost broken me. ARe his problems due to interpersonal skills ? if so try to do solo work such as gardening, driving, caretaking, cleaning, home working. I am so depressed about my work situation #I cannot bear to look for another job at the moment, I am a part time cleaner and don't do enough hours to support myself. you should ask the manager for feedback as to why he lost his job and get a AS counseller for him. General counsellors don't know about AS so they are pointless. It is hard to find AS counsellors typically. you can get them online and they talk via Skype. I would love to share my experiences with him and Rhonda Cline Nickel. one of my main problems is saying what I think too bluntly and directly and to the wrong person. Get into trouble that way. it is very hard to shut up. Perhaps #I should be self employed.
Anonymous said... I'm 52 and have had this problem all my life. Still looking for ways to get past it and do better.

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