I was asked for my opinion of why many of us who live on the Autism Spectrum do not stay on a job for the long term. I have often repeated in my blogs of a nugget of Autism wisdom: if you’ve met one with Autism, you’ve met only one. There are short time job keepers who do not live on the Spectrum; whereas, there are those on the Spectrum who have spent their entire years in the workforce at one place.
I don’t know the statistics for what is the average job length for those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I was a job hopper in my 20’s. So much so that I consider that decade as being my turbulent years. Whenever I am wishing I didn’t have as many birthdays to celebrate compared to my younger counterparts, I think of that decade and decide I’d rather keep my near-60 status.
Stability came when I finally landed a job in my hometown’s police department where I stayed for five years which at the time was a record for me. The reason was I landed in a job where my strengths matched the job.
I believe there is a strong connection between my strengths and weaknesses with my ASD. My tendency to hone in on details instead of the big picture was an asset to my once held favorite job as a library cataloger. I held that job for 10 years. My favorite job when working for the federal government was that of a records analyst. Both jobs were detail-oriented that didn’t require as much social interaction as other jobs. I still fondly recall the one who taught me cataloging telling me, “You’re a natural.”
There are jobs I wish I could delete from my memory like I do computer files. My ASD diagnosis reveals why I hated those jobs. For example, I held a job in retail and I lasted only three months before they laid me off after Christmas. In truth, it being laid off was an after-Christmas present because I was so awkward at it. It required a lot of social interaction and being quick on my feet with customer’s questions and service. It’s not that I don’t like people. I am not anti-human. It’s just I don’t like being around them much.
As a substitute teacher’s aide, I am around people, staff and students, all day long. But there’s compensation. I have the privilege of often working with children who are growing up on the same Spectrum that I travel on too.