As the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome the employment statistics for adults with autism spectrum disorders are frightening. Recent reports claim that up to 85% of would be Asperger’s workers are not working a full time because overcoming their social limitations makes it difficult to get and keep a job.
Asperger’s can be difficult to understand because individuals that have it are often very intelligent and high functioning. They are often considered quirky but that nuance of tolerance can wear off with abundant exposure. In the daily routine of an office setting, certain Asperger’s traits can become very annoying. Sometimes it’s not easy to work with someone who is always right or misjudges social cues.
The flip side is that other Asperger’s traits make them excellent employees. Advocacy groups across the world have started stepping up to educate businesses in the importance of integrating AS workers into their business models. By making accommodations to assist in job performance productivity, employers can harness their abilities.
Thorkil Sonne, founder of Denmark-based Asperger’s staffing resource Specialisterne explains, "These advantages come from several sources. The first is the ability of many autistic people to see details that do not register with most people. The second is the preference that many autistics have for highly focused and repetitive tasks. The Specialisterne consultants are less averse to the repetitive nature of the task. In fact, they gladly work in a quiet environment lacking the distractions of cell phone calls, water cooler gossip, and instant messaging. This extreme focus translates into increased productivity and accuracy."
Companies that work with Specialisterne or Chicago-based Aspiritech employ people with autism spectrum disorders instead of outsourcing work overseas. The result is typically favorable for both the employers and employees and similar programs are popping up everywhere.
Computer based employment seems to be ideal for adults with Asperger’s but it’s not the only option. Many famous people who have been diagnosed or speculated to have Apserger’s have found success in an array of different areas of employment. Some of which include:
Carl Jung, 1875-1961, psychoanalyst
Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, architect/ designer
Isaac Newton, mathematician and physicist
Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist
Alan Turing, mathematician/computer scientist/ cryptographer
Henry Cavendish, scientist
Nikola Tesla, scientist/engineer/inventor
Thomas Edison, inventor
Alexander Graham Bell, inventor
Benjamin Franklin, politician/writer/inventor
Henry Ford, industrialist
Howard Hughes, billionaire
Ludwig II, King of Bavaria
George Washington, politician
Thomas Jefferson, politician
Abraham Lincoln, politician
Ludwig van Beethoven, composer
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer
Seth Engstrom, World Champion Magician
Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion
Mark Twain, humorist
Henry Thoreau, writer
Virginia Woolf, writer
H P Lovecraft, writer
George Bernard Shaw, playwright/critic/ Socialist
Andy Warhol, artist
Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch painter
Michelangelo, Renissance artist
Charles Schulz, cartoonist
Marilyn Monroe, actress
Andy Kaufman, comedian
Alfred Hitchcock, film director
Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets/ puppeteer/writer/producer/director/composer
Where would we be without the contributions of these Asperger’s employees and countless more? It’s important to overlook the social awkwardness of Asperger’s workers and give them the chance to change the world again.