Lisa D. (chaoticidealism) wrote,
Lisa D.

Scattered Skills & the Autistic Worker

Autistic peoples' skills are usually so scattered that we can be superior in one thing and delayed in another. The same thing pops up on IQ tests, career aptitude tests, grades at school, and just about any type of test that measures multiple things about the way we think.

That has to be taken into account when looking for a job and/or career.

If you're unaware of your own scattered skills, that can cause some real problems when you are trying to find a job that fits you. But on the other hand, if you can find a job that fits those skills, then you can really take advantage of it.

Read up on careers and the kind of aptitudes they require. I've seen a lot of books that list different jobs by their aptitudes. Find a listing that has jobs at all levels of education--even if you're going to college, you'll want to work during the summers or support yourself as a part-time student, part-time worker.

Your goal is to find something that matches the high points of the scatter without also requiring the low points.

For example, let's take a detail-oriented person who's horrible at abstract thought.

Good job: Editing
Bad job: Writing

See how similar they are? But the abstract thought required to write an article or a report is so very different from the detail-oriented clerical skills required to catch the errors in it.

How about a person who's got dyscalculia, but is great at spatial relations?

Good job: Stocking a store
Bad job: Running a cash register

More similar jobs, but different focus. In this case, the spatial relations skills help the worker understand the most efficient, visually pleasing way to put merchandise on a shelf; but his problems with numbers make him a very bad cashier.

Anyway, that's the thing you have to do with a really wide scatter. It does mean a lot of options are closed to you; but the good flip-side of the situation is that your specialization fits with today's society and the emphasis on extremely narrow job descriptions.

Other tips:
  • Get yourself a good career counselor. They can be seriously helpful.
  • Learn how to interview. If you learn by doing, get somebody to role-play interviews with you until you do it right.
  • If you don't know your skill scatter pattern, find out. IQ test records are good; so are career aptitude tests and the kind of tests you get when you go into a special ed program. Better to have more than just one test to go from, so you don't end up basing things on how you did on a particularly good or bad day.
  • Vocational rehabilitation services can help. You will have to be persistent.
  • College counselors--either those in your major or those who help students with special needs--will probably have resources which you can use to determine your best possible job.
  • Don't discount jobs that are considered "low-class". If you are good at, and happy being, a janitor... then be a janitor. Remember that happiness will be more important, in the long run, than how successful the world thinks you are. Anyway, chances are you'll be the best janitor in the city.
  • Education is good. Sometimes you even have to go to school to get it.
  • Focus on happiness, not success. I said that already, but it bears saying twice.
  • If you need accomodations, ask for them. Emphasize how much better you will be at your job if given accomodations. Don't throw away a job idea just because you may need accomodations--it really has little bearing on how much aptitude you have for the position.
  • Many people get jobs through social connections. While autistics don't usually have many of these, do evaluate what you have and check to see whether anybody who knows you can talk to an employer about you. A good personal reference can often overcome any awkwardness during a job interview.
  • Being great at a job you hate is... not so great. Pick your second-best aptitude.
  • If you're very intelligent or delayed, your scatter points may all cluster at the top or bottom of the scale, masking your weaknesses and strengths. That doesn't mean you can pick at random. If you're on the Spectrum, chances are that those skills are just clustered because the test is meant to evaluate typical folk. Find a test that will reveal what's above and what's below YOUR average. (That's why I recommend digging up records from multiple types of tests.) Only if your skills are clustered at the center of the scale on most tests can you assume that you truly do not have a high degree of scattrer, and thus have more choice than most (but also require more training than most).
  • If you are unemployed because you can't find a job or can't find one you can do, consider volunteer work, too. Not only is it a good way to spend your time, but it will look good on your resume when you look for a similar paid position.
Tags: employment, intelligence & cognition
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