Today, I will show you all proof that autists can be their own bosses and not have to rely on work that is not commensurate with their passions or experience (and sometimes even higher education level).
According to an Inc. article, about 47% of autistic adults are jobless. This statistic hits me hard because I’m now one of the 47%. Even though I obtained a Master’s degree in March and held on to several internships and part time jobs, I have yet to land full-time work. I have been searching for full-time employment since March 2013, which is almost a two-year span. How can I prove my independence without meaningful work? I don’t think any one on the spectrum, especially those who have talent, would want to spend the rest of their lives depending on government and family.
Entrepreneur writer Patty Pacelli lays out four qualities of autistic people that will attract employers in her article. Below are excerpts from the article:
1. Intense focus comes naturally to them. Autistic people’s intensity can be an asset that helps them focus on the task at hand. For example, autistic employee Trevor’s extreme focusing ability allows him to wash huge piles of dishes quickly without stopping or complaining. His supervisor remarked that Trevor was “like a machine” and couldn’t believe how hard and fast he worked. Trevor said the repetition was comforting to him and he just “plowed right through it.”
2. They work when nobody is watching. When Trevor worked in maintenance, his coworkers commented that they always saw him doing heavy landscape work outside in the heat. Trevor didn’t know anyone saw him, but he worked hard when alone, never slacking or resting. It was that focus and commitment to do whatever he was asked that made him a model employee.
3. Autistic individuals can bring enormous creativity. Autistic people’s minds are wired differently, and their imaginations can be extreme. Managers should take advantage of this when looking for creative ideas or new ways to solve problems. If they give autistic team members opportunities to share their ideas, those ideas can lead to brilliant new concepts.
4. Autistic employees’ passions lead to productivity. Because autistic individuals usually have intense, specific interests, the best jobs are those that allow them to be involved with those interests. An employee who is perfectly suited to a position because of a passion results in a win-win situation. He will love working in his area of extensive knowledge and be hyper-focused and productive.
Not only should employers be aware of autistic employees’ strengths, they should also learn about some of their challenges, and how to accommodate them for better productivity.
People with autism need clear instructions so they know exactly what is expected of them, along with detailed job descriptions they can refer to often. They are literal thinkers, so language like “Be ready to start working at 9” works better than “Don’t be late.” They are not less intelligent, but they process differently and are usually visual learners, so the clearer the instructions, the better.
As leaders, creating an environment where high-functioning autistic employees can thrive is more than demonstrating social responsibility and diversity. It also yields the business results that entrepreneurs need to not just survive, but thrive.
Despite the qualities that would make us valuable employees, I’m still fear some of us on the spectrum would still be out of work. You see, the workplace is not primarily about your abilities and how hard your work. It’s all about social interactions and norms, with a little work capability. People may be scared of the silent type or person who have obsessions on sci-fi. It doesn’t help that people on the spectrum are usually literal thinkers. Work jokes may go over their heads. Eventually, our struggle to interact with co-workers and bosses can either cost us jobs or not get us one in the first place.
Luckily, I’m trying my hand at home business, where I can utilize my abilities and potentially earn some fair income. All it takes is a cell phone, computer, and a passion for the services you provide. Along with some social media savvy and content management. Personally, I would rather gain my freedom through entrepreneurship. I think people on the autistic spectrum should consider it because entrepreneurship or work-at-home can not only help you make money to earn a living while enjoying the ability to work. Such opportunities can also relieve you from some of the social anxiety. Aspies and autists who run their own businesses can focus on their tasks at hand, and they may mostly do customer interaction over the phone or online (assuming the business is digital). More importantly, businesses and work-at-home opportunities allows for us to spend more time pursuing our obsessions and interests with little to no ridicule. In the home business, I still have time to write, watch football, and catch up on some cartoons and documentaries after taking care of what I need to take care of.
I foresee more of us on the spectrum taking advantage of at-home work or entrepreneurship in the near future. This is a good time to hop on the opportunities to gain independence through being your own boss. There’s plenty of ways to do it and sources to go to. For my way of helping you gain independence through business while enjoying your passions, check out the presentation on my business website.
Otherwise, I pray that one day, the world will be more accepting of autistic entrepreneurs and employees. Our abilities and minds are a terrible thing to waste.
- Timotheus Gordon, Jr.: Authorized 5Linx Independent Marketing Representative (5LINX.net)
- Autistic Entrepreneurs Prove Their Mettle (Youtube/AP)
- Jerry Seinfeld: I’m on Autism Spectrum (newser.com)
- Thinking About Starting a Business? Here’s How to Get Motivated (legalzoom.com)
- Four Qualities of People With Autism That Could Benefit Your Business (Entrepreneur)
- For Someone with Autism, Entrepreneurship is the Answer (Inc.)
- 5 Tips (and 1 Big Tactic) to Increase Social Media Engagement (prnewsonline.com)
- How to Become a Leader in Your Industry Using Social Media (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- Social Media Promoter (internet.forumsee.com)
- Book Review: “The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users” (metaverse.wordpress.com)
- Lessons From a Young Entrepreneur Who Has Autism (Creativity Post)