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To ask if you have autism and work?

(54 Posts)
anon33 Mon 01-Jun-15 16:06:38

Just received an autism diagnosis for DD10. Autism rather than Asperger's as she had a significant speech delay before 3 (which the paed told me is what is the defining factor between the two) but she described it as "Asperger's presentation. Social skills quite poor, stereotypical movements, general lack of interest in others.

It was all positive until the paed started talking about post 16 education. She suggested that DD could attend a local college with a special ASD class, do some woodwork and an animal course...... Nothing wrong with either of these, but she has no interest in either! It also made me sad that there was no aspiration for further/higher education.

Was watching a program (I think Born Naughty) which touched on ASD and the Dr said only 15% of adults with autism work full time.

I recall quite a few threads here where posters have said they have ASD, so was wondering if/what you do?

Thanks in advance

PotatoesNotProzac Mon 01-Jun-15 16:10:55

Loads of computer programmers and engineers have autism smile

Don't worry about post 16 now!

She'll be able to do something she wants to. And will probably be exceptionally good at it.

gunnsgirl Mon 01-Jun-15 16:15:55

Don't worry. I'm sure over the next few years she will show extraordinary talents with a certain area.

I have a 26 year old daughter who didn't really speak until going to school. She had speech therapy but this was discontinued as a result of cut backs and priorities. Her communication now is poor and she has problems with social interaction. However she has a job as a data analyst, not something she wanted to do, but she has the ability to sit without moving from to 5.30 and get on with it, proving herself to be a reliable and trustworthy employee. They are unaware she has been diagnosed as autistic, just think she is a bit 'odd.' Most of the time she's happy / blissfully unaware of life around her but she's earning good money.

I'm sure there's a specific niche your daughter will naturally fall into.

noblegiraffe Mon 01-Jun-15 16:17:22

They need to be careful with their stats. Only 15% of adults diagnosed with autism might be in full time work, but of course there are many undiagnosed adults because diagnoses weren't as common when they were at school - schools are far better at picking up on ASD now. So the ones with the diagnosis are the ones more likely to have a severe enough presentation to have got the diagnosis back then and are therefore more likely not to be working.

YouTheCat Mon 01-Jun-15 16:20:07

My dd has Aspergers. She's doing a college course and has signed up for a degree for next year. She's also doing some voluntary work and working part time in a call centre. She was always very much into computers and managed to hack into the parental controls several times before she was 10. So she's going with her strengths regarding college and thoroughly enjoying it.

What is your dd showing an interest in?

orangepudding Mon 01-Jun-15 16:22:37

My son (7) was recently diagnosed with ASD. The 15% stat really upset me and made me realise the significance of his diagnosis.
I am certain my dh is also autistic but not diagnosised. He has been in full time employment since leaving university. He's a computer programmer which seems to be a popular occupation for those with ASD/ASD traits.

StatisticallyChallenged Mon 01-Jun-15 16:27:19

I have high functioning ASD/Asperger's (the Asperger's diagnosis has been done away with under American diagnostic criteria and a lot of doctors here are following suit)

I have a full time job, and have worked constantly since I was 15. I have a degree too.

I'd agree re the stats as I was only diagnosed as an adult, and have no contact with autism support groups/charities etc so I wouldn't be picked up. I have no doubt that many people with autism would struggle with full time 9-5 stuck in the office type work but I don't believe the 15% figure.

CrohnicallyInflexible Mon 01-Jun-15 16:31:41

I've just been diagnosed with AS as an adult. I work pt, but that is partly because of the sector I work in (very few ft jobs, I've worked several jobs at the same time before to increase the hours I work) and partly because I have a young DD.

I think noblegiraffe hit it on the head- when I was younger you had to have a 'classical' autistic profile and be quite severely impaired to be picked up and diagnosed, therefore only 15% of these people are in ft employment. There are many of us who were missed as children and are being picked up as there is more awareness now (especially of people who mask or don't fit the classic profile), of this group I think employment is much higher. There's a thread in SN recommendations for adult women with ASD/ADHD, most of us are employed.

Rudeabaga Mon 01-Jun-15 16:37:27

I have ASD and work full time, it is hard but I do manage. My role is phone / admin based which helps - I can only cope with so much face to face interaction with the general public. I was diagnosed as an adult but was always the odd child - however I did get me A levels.

modelthroughit Mon 01-Jun-15 16:39:34

I have Asperger's. I wasn't diagnosed until my mid-20s but have a relatively classic female ASD presentation.

I have always worked. I had paper rounds, worked in a chippy, at McDonald's, in a supermarket, a bookstore, a clothing store, in a call centre. Many of these were while also in full time education - I have three degrees. Two of them were in Canada; I did a year abroad while at uni, then went back for a gap year after graduating from my first degree. I am now a full-time secondary school teacher.

At times, it's tough. I struggle with parents' evening because I have to talk to strangers for 4 hours. I struggle with September because I don't know my kids yet. But ultimately, I know and love my subject, I know and love teaching kids. I'm confident in this area which means I can push myself past my 'limits' when I need to.

What having ASD and working means, for me, is that having a life beyond my job, my partner, and my best friend is a particular challenge during term time. I'm often too tired to do more than a dinner once a week as socialising. I try and make up for it in the holidays, though, and I have a few very good friends who know me and get it.

I need to make time to 'recharge'. Being around people is draining, so I have to take care of me and ensure I have time to do so. I find the politics at school baffling, and have to write things down as they're said if they require an action on my part. I've learned what works for me, and figure things out as I go around that.

In short - my ASD hasn't stopped me doing anything I really want to. I work, I travel, I have lived in three countries as an adult. I have friends, and an amazing partner. I'm happy. I sometimes have to push myself, but I know when to stop. It works for me.

Support her in following her dreams - in a realistic way. Don't limit her! I could do a job where I was alone all day, but I think it would make me more Aspie. So I do what I love, and know myself well enough to know when I need a break. But then, I get plenty of those as a teacher wink

guggenheim Mon 01-Jun-15 16:49:47

I have family members with AS. they belong to a generation which didn't recognise or support children with AS.

My lovely uncle worked for the civil service for many years. He had a horrible time at school,P.E was a particular torture for him! He didn't really progress in his career,because he has absolutely no interest in doing so. During the '90 someone decided that his department had to prepare and present mini seminars to groups and this was horrible for my uncle. To his great credit,he found ways to cope and managed to do this.I would say that he has suffered some discrimination in his life but that work was generally supportive and a good skills match.

Another close family member has AS which she was able to mask. She worked for a long time in the public sector but had a break down when modern assessment practices were brought in. She left work at 55,won a tribunal to do with her breakdown and hasn't worked since. She's much happier because she can organise herself into the routines she needs to be able to cope.

Also,there are areas of the country which have more than average adults on the spectrum- think university cities with high ICT & science industries.

People with AS can aim as high as they like,isn't there a campaign group all about this- Aspire???

Blueandwhitelover Mon 01-Jun-15 16:50:51

DH is autistic (diagnosed recently and told he was further on the spectrum than Aspergers) and works full time in a supermarket. If I was with him and you met him you might think he was a bit rude as he wouldn't say much but within his own circle he copes. He wasn't diagnosed till his early 50s ( I diagnosed him as soon as I met him eight years ago but it took me a long time to get him to the doctor). He previously held a management position in a factory for almost all of his working life.
I also fit the criteria for ASD (am considering going for a formal diagnosis) and work full time in a school.
Getting the diagnosis isn't a write off and 'normal' life can be manageable depending on the severity of autism.
As an adult and particularly since DH's diagnosis I am aware more of my triggers and taking time to plan for eventualities and also for recharging.

tabulahrasa Mon 01-Jun-15 16:53:49

My DS has AS, but, he also has a speech disorder (not delay) and he isn't employed...but that's because he's a student.

He's finishing off an HNC and has been accepted into a degree course for next year, a BSc in microbiology.

No-one can tell at 10 what your DD is capable of, especially with an ASD where development doesn't happen typically because along with delays you can get sudden jumps forward and areas that she may excel in that she hasn't discovered yet.

MedusaIsHavingaBadHairday Mon 01-Jun-15 17:00:25

How long is a piece of string? There are SO many variable factors.
High functioning adults with ASD may be amazing at their interests and be able to do degrees, get great jobs etc and just come across as a bit 'odd'
Those with more severe autism, or those with learning disabilities are much much less likely to be employed.

It's lovely to read about the more able people (and I would argue that anyone able to function is a decent job/live independently/have a family is pretty able) who are managing to lead pretty ordinary lives... but sadly I do think that this is a minority.

I work with young people who have autism and my own DS2 18, is autistic. Not so able...and there is nothing out there for him..not quite bright enough for an apprenticeship let alone GCSEs, A levels etc, and our best hope in the Mencap Traineeship and voluntary work. He wants to have a job, but his undertstanding of the world is patchy to say the least, and most of his ASD peers are in the same boat.

Basically if your DD has a normal academic ability and can pass exams, her chances are good (My DD2's boyfriend is in a group of youngsters in ICT and I suspect they would pretty much all qualify for diagnosis...and they are heading for great careers) but if there are learning disabilities too.. it's pretty dire.

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:02:23

DS is currently working full-time during his gap year. OK, so my heart is in my mouth every time he phones to tell me semi-coherently that he's 'not coping today'. But his employers, who know he has AS, have so far simply, kindly, sent him home without criticism each time that's happened, or suggested he go outside for a walk and come back when calmer.

Possibly behind the scenes they are thinking 'Thank god he's only with us till September!', but the impression we get is more that they value him as an employee enough to make up for the bad moments.

Dawndonnaagain Mon 01-Jun-15 17:03:16

AS diagnosis. History Lecturer, retired. There are many of us in Higher Education! Dh was a Philosophy Lecturer, with an AS diagnosis.
We have four children, three on the spectrum. One has just finished his second year at uni, doing Literature, dd1 is going to uni to do Lit and dd2 is going to do a paramedic course. Ds2 and dd 2 were both diagnosed at 7, dd1 at 2.

KittiesInsane Mon 01-Jun-15 17:06:47

I probably don't count, as I've never pursued a diagnosis, but DS's initial diagnosis letter says something like 'Parents viewed DS's early development as normal, but this seems to be because they both followed a noticeably similar developmental pathway...'

I'm an editor. We're expected to be obsessively pedantic. And DH is (gosh, the surprise) a computer programmer.

leafyroads Mon 01-Jun-15 17:14:04

I have a diagnosis of autism which I got through the NHS two years ago as an adult. I have never had a real job despite doing very well academically (though I managed some retail/waitressing work as a student) and I get DLA and ESA for my autism and associated mental health problems. I think my mental health issues (stemming from having to mask my autism all my life and never having any support for it) has been the bigger barrier to work, but I only have those issues as a result of having autism.

I have a lot of skills and qualifications but I would struggle with social politics in any workplace tbh. And I have to admit that I'm not motivated by any kind of satisfaction from working as I don't respond to social pressures, and I don't feel the sense of social isolation that NTs say they suffer from when they're not working. I'm perfectly content to be at home on my own most days, and not materialistic so not motivated by a salary.

anon33 Mon 01-Jun-15 17:15:21

Thanks a lot for the replies everyone, they are very reassuring.

It seems that IT seems to be a very popular occupation, however my daughter isn't interested :-D She has very limited interests in particular periods of history and certain animals and refuses to do any work she doesn't like. It was also discovered during her assessment that she is dyslexic.

Thanks for the heads up regarding the ASD adult thread, will take a look. Like another poster said I was fine until I heard the 15% thing and that seemed really limiting to me.

thornrose Mon 01-Jun-15 17:18:20

It's a tough one. My dd has AS alongside dyscalculia, dyspraxia and some LDs due to poor memory and processing. It's hard to imagine what type of job she could manage.

She is 15 and I am trying not to think too far ahead though. She is articulate and has an enquiring mind but no interests as such. I am hoping as she matures avenues may open.

It may just take a bit longer for her to get there.

MrsNextDoor Mon 01-Jun-15 17:18:56

If she likes history then perhaps I'd think of getting her a work placement when she's older, in a museum.

youarekiddingme Mon 01-Jun-15 17:25:33

Is must admit that 15% stat threw me too. Didn't help I'd had my DS (10) ASC dx that very day!

However my DS is already talking about doing engineering through the new college set up near us and the secondary school he is going to allows them to do a GCSE in it. He's VERY ICT motivated.

My DS is exactly like the boy from that programme and I still expect him to eventually be able to work as an adult - because employers should make reasonable adjustments.

Remember a diagnosis is not a prognosis.

anon33 Mon 01-Jun-15 17:26:09

Leafy and Medusa thank you for those very honest accounts.

My DD is on the lower end of "average" academic ability (some of her tests came back on the 4th centile which to me screamed SEN but the Ed Psych says are fine?!)

To complicate matters she is home schooled as after 1 year of a truly horrendous time in school I withdrew her. The paed's recommendation was to continue home education as that is where she will flourish as she cannot see the point of conforming to teacher's demands and social "norms" I am in an area where many children with ASD have been removed from school because due to cuts etc they have not been supported adequately, and I just worry that she will not get the help that she needs.

samantha3232 Mon 01-Jun-15 17:33:25

I work with post 16 ASD students. This years leavers have gone off to do varied things. Three are off to university having completed Alevels one on engineering two in creative areas, The rest are doing college courses in really varied sectors (mechanics, Art, computer engineering, jairdressing, childcare) the only two not going onto FE have secured apprenticships.
Your doctor sounds like a knob what a dated shitty opinion bit instituionalised. They change so much between primary and 16 whose to know what she will do at 16. I saw an amazing speaker on ASD once but her name has lost me think its Rose i'll try and find out on google. She has ASD and is hugely succesful and an inspirational speaker.

CrabbyTheCrabster Mon 01-Jun-15 19:17:06

I withdrew my DD from school aged 8 and home edded her for a few years. She was diagnosed with AS during that time. I was diagnosed with ASD recently also. Home ed at primary level was great in some ways, very challenging in others, but I'm glad we did it. I wasn't confident to educate her at secondary level, so now she goes to Interhigh, an online secondary. She started Y7 in Sept. and it's been a bloody revelation to me, can't recommend it highly enough - I'm in danger of becoming a bit of an evangelist! blush

Quite a few of their pupils have ASDs, as online schooling works so well for kids who can't cope with the overwhelming environment of a bricks and mortar school. DD is thriving academically, has made good friends there and loves her lessons. The teachers are very approachable and supportive. Am happy to answer questions if you're interested. The downside is the cost, obviously - currently a bit over 3k a year for the lower years (more at GCSE).

My work history... not the greatest, but I think that (not sticking at things for long) is more to do with the fact that I was undiagnosed so didn't understand why I couldn't cope with things that other people seemed to take in their stride. I have struggled with depression since my teens, again I think due to not understanding why I am the way I am. I have worked, though, and in people-facing roles.

I do worry sometimes about DD and how she will cope with college/university/work. I hope that she will be better equipped than me to deal with it, knowing about herself and her strengths/weaknesses and understanding what she needs. I think the 15% is a very bleak statistic and would like to know what data they based that on. ASD is massively underdiagnosed in women, for a start - Tony Attwood and other experts are redefining what ASD looks like in girls and women. A lot of women on the spectrum will have flown under the radar and held down jobs, had fulfilling family lives etc., just struggled with certain things.

My DD's father is, I think (and DP agrees), almost certainly on the spectrum. He was astonished that I would even suggest this, and it wouldn't occur to him to get assessed. grin It doesn't cause him difficulties because he is self employed (computers) and runs his life as it suits him, staying up all night working obsessively on things and sleeping half the day like a teenager, following his special interests as he sees fit. Social/personal issues, when they present problems, are easily explained as being the other person's fault/issue, so that doesn't much bother him either. grin I think there are lots of people like him, at the high functioning end of the spectrum, who live their lives in a broadly functional way and aren't ever diagnosed.

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