What is High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?
High-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger’s syndrome are at the least severe end of the autism spectrum, and can be characterized by difficulties in communication and interaction with others. People with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome have difficulties with understanding abstract uses of language, like humor for example, obsessive interest in specific items or information, and a general lack of skill with interacting with other people. People who have HFA or Asperger’s syndrome usually have average or above-average intelligence, though they lack typical social skills.
Sometimes, individuals experiencing high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome may have difficulty finding employment, often because of barriers in the workforce. Having HFA or Asperger’s syndrome does not mean that you are incapable or unable to obtain and retain meaningful employment.
Benefits of Hiring You
Most importantly, employers will benefit from your multiple skills, qualifications, and experience that make you a suitable candidate for the job. When employers focus on your ability rather than your disability, they will have access to a larger pool of qualified workers. People with disabilities often do their jobs as well or better than other employees doing the same job, and there are various government hiring incentives for organizations.
In various studies it was found that people with disabilities have a better working attitude when compared to people without disabilities. People with disabilities have a better attendance record and lower turnover rate compared to people without disabilities, which reduces costs associated with high turnover rates.
Barriers You May Face
Often, attitudinal barriers exist, that create myths about people with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome and their ability to work. Many employers falsely believe that people with these disabilities will not be able to work, or that it will be very costly to accommodate. This is not true; most people with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome can work as effectively as a co-worker without these disorders. If accommodations need to be made for someone with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome, it usually costs little and has long term benefits.
Other Barriers May Include
– Lack of flexibility and understanding in the workplace
– Stigma of autism and Asperger’s syndrome in the workplace
– Coworker’s misconception about autism and Asperger’s syndrome
In reality, there are many benefits to hiring people with disabilities, and these barriers can be easily broken down. You have no lesser ability to be successful than anyone else, and should be given equal opportunities to succeed in the workplace.
Jobs That You May be Successful In
The following jobs are examples of some jobs that people with HFA may find success in:
– Information technology
– Computer technology
– Automotive mechanic
– Various labour force work
– Various trades
– Factory work
There are many other jobs that people with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome can do, and it is important to remember to match your interests with your abilities in your job search. This small list of jobs is a way to get you thinking about what areas of work you may be interested in. Always conduct your own research to find what jobs would be a good fit for you.
Tips for Success
– Make sure that you will be able to successfully do the job, with some accommodations if required. Do not let this discourage you; there will always be a job that you will be able to succeed in.
– Do not disclose your HFA or Asperger’s syndome on your cover letter or resume, as these are designed to advertise your abilities.
– You may want to disclose your disability only if you are applying for a job that deals with issues or persons with disabilities or if the company is known to be an equal opportunity employer.
– If you have been called for an interview, it is not necessary to disclose your disability if you do not think it will interfere with the job; if you have mild Asperger’s for example.
– It may be a good idea to disclose your disability in an interview if you believe the employer will take notice and have questions, if it may impact your ability to do the job in any way and/or if accommodations would need to be made.
– If you will need to be accommodated in the interview, it is important to ask for them ahead of time.
– Should you wish to discuss best practices for self-disclosure, attend a designated workshop at PATH that features this topic.
Good luck in your search for employment!
*Disclaimer: please note that all people experience their disability differently, and this resource will apply to each person based their own personal experience.