Disability Focus Series, Autism Spectum Disorder(ASD);
Autism presents significant challenges for many children born both in the US and in countries around the world. Consequently, more resources are needed, both on a national and global scale to fund medical research into the causes of Autism. If not, we are facing a grim future for generations to come.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. The Centers for Disease Control reports the following statistics:
· Approximately, 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
· ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
· Autism costs the nation over $238 billion per year, a figure expected to significantly increase in the next decade. To read more. Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD Centers for Disease Control Read more
An individual on the high end of the Autism Spectrum is typically, of high intelligence and in many cases holds advanced degrees. However, he or she may find life a difficult maze to maneuver due to the inability to communicate and socialize on a normal basis. This leads to high unemployment rates among this population, frustration and mental health issues. The challenges of successful employment are daunting to say the least. Considering this prognosis, individuals with high functioning Autism and in particular, society lose.
The Flipside to Autism: where these individuals and society win!
Deficits or unusual character traits may prove to be their utter genius in many ways. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome (Aspies), one of the highest functioning levels on the Autism Spectrum) tend to be extremely focused on perfecting a certain aspect of a given thing and diligent in completing repetitive tasks. Their brains are wired to think in a systemic process of order. Many of these individuals have the ability to think outside of the box, conceive and build a better mouse trap. These are common attributes of individuals with high functioning Autism.
Most notably, Apple Co - founder, Steve Jobs. Though Jobs never publicly,acknowledged having Asperger’s; he clearly demonstrated significant traits of Autism. Steve Jobs, not only became the face of Apple but perhaps the icon of the high school yearbook section entitled: "The Most Unlikely to Succeed Who Did”. Jobs, a college dropout cofounded Apple in his garage. Apple created and marketed the Macintosh in 1976. While his work style and personality traits would not have earned him the title ’Boss of the Year’ by the majority of his Apple coworkers; Jobs definitely made his mark on the world. Steve Jobs's legacy Apple Inc. has proven to be a leading force in the acceleration of a global tech industry that has transformed our world. According to Forbes,at his death, Steve Jobs’s net worth was an estimated $10.2 billion.
"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do." Apple Team - Lee Clow, Ken Segall, Craig Tanimoto, and Steve Jobs - Apple 1997 Commerical'"Think Different"
A Gold Mine of Untapped Talent; Getting employers to think outside the box.
The question must be asked of our employment sectors in the industrialized world; how can we harness the brain power of individuals such as these to benefit our bottom line and in turn benefit society as a whole?
There was gold in them there garages: The secret ingredient for Jobs's success was that Apple and other tech companies such as Microsoft had products that everyone wanted and could not wait to get their hands on in the 80s and 90s. Reducing mainframes into portable units with useful applications in all aspects of life applicable on a global scale was destined to reap massive windfall profits; thanks largely in part to geeks like Jobs, Gates and many others who saw the potential global sales market. In this case, personal traits and oddities did not matter. The products sold themselves.
Our educational systems from the post-secondary to the university level must be challenged to meet the demands of industries that can utilize these exceptional traits. Industries such engineering, informational technologies, agriculture, accounting, green environmental industries etc. may hold the key to successful outcomes in the Autism population and the dilemma we now face in society in regards to those with intellectual disabilities.
At any rate, this one fact (crescendos), if we do not think outside of the box we will lose a valuable untapped resource and pay a monumental price in the expenditures of community and government supportive resources.
Employers recognizing the plus:
A number of companies such as Microsoft, SAP, Sleuths, Freddie Mac, and Walgreens have targeted job seekers on the Autism Spectrum for employment. The following are great example of employers capitalizing the advantages of the flipside to Autism. Entrepreneur Rajesh Anandan, Ultra Testing “Why are we wasting so much time on trying to perfect what they are not good at? Instead concentrate on what they are good at”
Entrepreneur Rajesh Anandan, Ultra Testing “Why are we wasting so much time on trying to perfect what they are not good at? Instead concentrate on what they are good at”
Asperger Syndrome at Work, YouTube video
Israeli military utilizing talent of young people with Autism
Making appropriate career choices can make all the difference in success or failure of individuals with high functioning Autism.
Good Jobs for Non-Visual Thinkers—
- Accounting -- Get very good in a specialized field such as income taxes
- Bank Teller -- Very accurate money counting, much less demand on short-term working memory than a busy cashier who mostly makes change quickly
- Clerk and filing jobs -- knows where every file is
- Computer programming -- Less visual types can be done as freelance work
- Copy editor -- Corrects manuscripts. Many individuals freelance for larger publishers
- Engineering -- Electrical, electronic and chemical engineering
- Inventory control -- Keeps track of merchandise stocked in a store
- Journalist -- Very accurate facts, can be done as freelance
- Laboratory technician -- Running laboratory equipment
- Library science -- reference librarian. Help individuals find information in the library or on the Internet.
- Physicist or mathematician -- There are very few jobs in these fields. Only the very brilliant can get and keep jobs. Jobs are much more plentiful in computer programming and accounting.
- Statistician -- Work in many different fields such as research, census bureau, industrial quality control, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, etc.
- Taxi driver -- Knows where every street is
- Telemarketing -- Get to repeat the same thing over and over, selling on the telephone. Noisy environment may be a problem. In telephone sales, you avoid many social problems.
- Tuning pianos and other musical instruments, can be done as freelance work
Jobs for Nonverbal Individuals with Aspergers—
- Copy shop -- Running photocopies. Printing jobs should be lined up by somebody else.
- Data entry -- If the person has fine motor problems, this would be a bad job
- Factory assembly work -- Especially if the environment is quiet
- Fast food restaurant -- Cleaning and cooking jobs with little demand on short-term memory
- Janitor jobs -- Cleaning floors, toilets, windows and offices
- Lawn and garden work -- Mowing lawns and landscaping work
- Plant care -- Water plants in a large office building
- Recycling plant -- Sorting jobs
- Re-shelving library books -- Can memorize the entire numbering system and shelf locations
- Restocking shelves -- In many types of stores
- Warehouse -- Loading trucks, stacking boxes,
Best and Worst Jobs for Aspergers Adults My Asperger’s Child.com - HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders