Career Paths for Autistic Students & Adults

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Autism is a term that describes a range of developmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction, communication difficulties and restricted or repetitive behavior. The autistic spectrum ranges from mild to severe, but usually falls within the autism diagnosis guidelines outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Autism is a common condition that affects the way people see, hear, speak, and act. It can make it difficult for autistic students and adults to find jobs they are qualified for.


As the world gains a better understanding of autism, more schools and companies are looking for methods to help those on the spectrum. Autistic people may be intelligent, creative, and hardworking workers, but they require help from their employers to find the correct framework.

People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have difficulty doing particular professional activities, communicating coherently with colleagues, adhering to implicit norms and regulations, and advocating for their requirements for a distraction-free workplace. In the job, autistic people have a wide variety of requirements. The severity of the condition determines how much assistance is required.

Autism & Employment

The majority of persons with autism are either underemployed or jobless, according to data gathered from throughout the globe.

Autism may make it difficult to get and hold a job since people with autism struggle with behaviors, social settings, and communication. According to estimates, up to 85% of persons with autism have trouble getting or keeping a job.

Autistic people encounter particular problems in the workplace. They may have trouble interviewing successfully, interacting with team members, and understanding client demands due to social and communication challenges.

The majority of disability job programs were created for persons with more typical physical impairments, such as blindness and deafness, rather than autistic people. As a consequence, many companies are unsure where these workers belong in the workplace, and many autistic people wind themselves in overqualified positions.

While persons with autism still encounter numerous obstacles in finding job, employers are beginning to recognize the advantages of hiring autistic staff. Many companies have established neurodiversity programs that concentrate on recruiting, educating, integrating, and supporting neurodiverse workers.

There are also several advocacy initiatives aimed at assisting persons with autism in finding jobs and integrating into the workforce. Autism advocacy groups such as The Arc and Easterseals assist people with autism in overcoming obstacles to employment in order to find and keep occupations that are a good fit for their skills.

The severity of a person’s autism has an impact on how they function in certain work environments.

The severity of an individual’s ASD will have an impact on the kind of professions they can successfully accomplish.

In this version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the degrees of autism severity have been changed. These levels are included in current clinical understanding:

  • Level 1, needing assistance: This is also known as moderate or high-functioning autism. Autism manifests itself in several ways, such as a problem to grasp some social settings, anxiety caused by feeling outside of social groups or not picking up signs, tension when routines change, and a sensation that they only want to do certain things their way.
  • At this level, people may keep a typical or average job and social life.
  • Level 2, needing significant support: Those with this diagnosis often have greater difficulties with social skills, and their limitations may be more visible. Some members of this group may not speak vocally, or if they do, their talks are usually brief and focused on a single issue.
  • Professionals, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists and technologists, will be needed to assist them grasp social signals and context so they may participate in more interactions. They may find it difficult to establish eye contact, use the appropriate tone of speech, and interpret facial emotions.
  • Restrictive and habitual actions will become increasingly common. If a person’s typical habits are disrupted, he or she may have a difficult time communicating and will feel quite uncomfortable.
  • Level 3, which requires a lot of help: Autism spectrum disease in its most severe form. People who are diagnosed with this condition need a lot of help with their everyday tasks, social connections, communication, and motor function. Their ability to operate as autonomous, competent adults is hampered by restrictive, repetitive, and even compulsive or obsessive habits.
  • Some persons in this group are able to communicate through words, but the majority are unable to do so. People at level 3 have a hard time dealing with unexpected circumstances. They react to sensory information in various ways, either being too sensitive to some senses, such as textures or sight, or not detecting others, such as noises. Motor abilities are also deteriorated to the point that many people may need assistance with everyday chores such as dressing.

Many persons are not diagnosed with autism until they are well into their adolescent or adult years. Others may be diagnosed as young children, but they spend their school years striving to gain skills that will allow them to stay up with their neurotypical classmates.

Because persons on the autism spectrum have such a broad variety of problems and talents, career counselors, friends, family, and educators must employ a personalized strategy for each individual. Understanding a person’s strengths and shortcomings is critical to assisting them in identifying and achieving professional objectives.

Autistic Adults Looking for Work: A Personal Job Map

Making a customized work map may help people with autism. This sort of map may be made in a group or therapy session. The therapist may next assist the client in comprehending the following stages in applying for and obtaining employment.

The steps for creating a job map are as follows:

  • Make a list of ideas. The first step in creating a job map is to brainstorm the person’s interests. When it comes to getting into college or a job sector, people with autism may believe that their intense interest in certain, restricted topics hinders them. When it comes to specific vocations, though, this concentration and attention may be really beneficial. All you have to do now is figure out how the attraction relates to particular components of the work.
  • Make a list of your passions. The individual then makes a list of the greatest aspects of these topics of interest. If their passion is drawing, for example, they should write out what they like about the process, what they prefer to draw, and what keeps them engaged in drawing those things.
  • Make a list of as many of them as you can. They’re crucial things to look for in job advertisements.
  • Recognize your own unique triggers. Person triggers in different situations might assist an individual figure out what kind of job would be ideal for them. Certain occupations are associated with certain settings.
  • A lawn care professional, for example, could utilize noisy, heavy equipment in an outside setting that is likely to be packed with odors and intense light. Someone who works in software Engineering is likely to have a desk job, which requires them to sit for long periods of time, collaborate with others, communicate verbally, and deal with tight or last-minute deadlines.
  • Make suggestions for improvements. After you’ve outlined all of the possible issues, come up with some remedies. For autistic people who have managed to go to school, participate in social activities, attend ABA treatment sessions, and other settings, these may be clear answers.
  • Some autistic people may have lesser sensory sensitivity to some concerns, such as loud sounds, and hence find it easier to operate in a noisy setting, such as a construction site. Some people flourish in desk jobs because of the rigidity of deadlines combined with enough privacy and quiet to work alone.
  • Make a list of non-negotiables. Make a distinct category for concerns that must be addressed. For example, if fluorescent lights are excessively distracting and uncomfortable, the individual may be unable to complete certain tasks.
  • It is critical to be aware of things ahead of time. It prevents autistic people from applying for occupations that aren’t a good match for their abilities or that put them in dangerous situations.
  • Understanding these concerns also aids a person’s ability to analyze their surroundings during a job interview. They’ll be able to see whether the workplace is a suitable match for their requirements and if they need to request adjustments more readily.
  • Make a plan for the following actions. A list termed course of action or realization is used in the last step of the procedure. This is just a recap of what you learnt in the previous exercises.
  • The knowledge may assist someone with autism in realizing that they possess a wide range of talents and qualities that can assist them in achieving professional success. It also outlines particular concerns that may be acceptable in some kinds of jobs but may be prohibitive in others.

These checklists make the job search process appear lot more doable. People with autism who start by making these lists may discover that they have a lot of worth to add to a variety of occupations, rather than feeling frightened, agitated, overwhelmed, or unprepared.

There are additional actions that an autistic person might take to aid in their job hunt.

  • Make a list of jobs that are close to public transportation or within walking distance.
  • Make a list of personal connections who may be able to assist you in your search for an entry-level position. These initial jobs might help you launch your career.
  • Look for institutions that teach career skills such as how to conduct interviews and create cover letters.
  • Fill out a few job applications simply to get a feel for the procedure.
  • Use available resources, such as advocacy organizations, to get assistance.

Adults with Autism Can Work in Specific Jobs

People with autism may be concerned that they lack the necessary job or social skills to succeed in the workforce. Many autistic people, on the other hand, have exceptional abilities, devotion, and attention, all of which businesses value in applicants. Certain types of jobs may be more suitable for autistic people than others.

Someone with autism, for example, may be an excellent visual learner and thinker. Instead of perceiving the world via conversation or words, they perceive it physically through visuals. People with autism have a hard time distinguishing metaphorical speech in particular.

Strong visual thinkers on the autism spectrum are typically a good match for professions in the following fields:

  • Programming on a computer
  • Web design or software
  • Troubleshooting for computers
  • Hardware upkeep
  • Repairing small appliances
  • Engineering
  • Design of the equipment
  • Drafting
  • Photography
  • Carving, pottery, and jewelry-making are examples of handicrafts.
  • Art for sale
  • Animal education
  • Veterinary medicine is the practice of treating animals.
  • Medicine in the lab
  • Repairs, for example, are a kind of construction trade.
  • Building upkeep is important.
  • Maintenance of the factory

While many individuals with autism react strongly to visual imagery and thrive in occupations that require this talent, others excel at statistics, facts, or music. These vocations may benefit from people with this skill set:

  • Accountant
  • Professional in the field of library science
  • a librarian who specializes in research
  • Journalist
  • Engineer
  • editor of duplicates
  • Manager of inventory
  • Driver of a taxi
  • Professional repair and tuning of musical instruments
  • Technician in a laboratory
  • Teller at a bank
  • Clerk in charge of filing
  • Statistician
  • Physicist
  • Mathematician
  • Professional telemarketer

Soft Skills Training

Soft talents are characteristics that make someone useful in a wide range of occupations. Soft abilities are divided into six categories:

These soft skills are important for everyone, but persons with autism typically struggle with them. As a consequence, ABA treatment sessions are often used to build these abilities.

Adults with autism may always return to ABA treatment or seek out a new career-specific ABA therapist to assist them grasp the soft skills required for success in the workplace. An ABA therapist may structure sessions around interviewing skills, assisting clients in learning how to present oneself in a professional and socially suitable way. Clients may also improve their communication skills so that they can effectively speak on the job and advocate for themselves when required.

Resources to Help Autistic Students & Young Adults Find Work

People with autism spectrum disorders have a right to work in employment that meet their requirements and make the most use of their abilities.

These resources may assist autistic people in beginning job training and obtaining employment:


There are many entry-level jobs for autistic adults. These jobs can be found in areas such as business, education, and health care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What careers are good for autism?

A: There is not a specific field of work that makes up for someone who has autism. Some people with autism are able to be successful in most career fields and some have difficulty adapting or dealing with the requirements needed outside of their world.

What jobs are good for low functioning autism?

A: I would say that jobs such as customer service and retail work are good for people with low functioning autism. In these fields, the person doesnt have to do anything too complicated or hard, which makes it easier for them.

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