Career High Functioning Autistic

Updated on March 10, 2019
T.B. asks from Stockton, CA
9 answers

My son is almost 13 yrs old and was dx with pdd-nos (now high functioning autism) .Hes in a private regular middle school and doing good. He also has auditory processing ds so very slow in math but Science and art is his strength. Math he s not at grade level and i don't expect him to be. Hes friendly and has many friends but does have social deficits specially when he meets a new person...
I was wondering what are his career options based on his strength and how can I start prepping him at this age?

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answers from Abilene on

I think it’s a bit early to be prepping for a career. He will probably grow and change interests dramatically over the next few years.

Expose him to lots of things. Encourage his strengths and don’t dwell on his weaknesses (which it sounds like you’re already doing). Give him great art supplies and maybe private art lessons. Photography is another avenue that comes to mind. Maybe sculpting lessons.

Let him grow and learn. Work with his school counselor but also think about summer camps that might appeal to him. Lots of colleges offer weeklong robotics, photography, art, science camps so kids can explore different interests.

You sound like you’re very interested in his success. Be confident you will help him figure it out and know he will do well. He has so much growing to do. Enjoy this chapter of his life. It flies quickly. ❤️

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I wouldn't be talking to any child at this age about career options, especially one with special needs. The number of 12 year olds who really know what careers are out there and what will be out there in 6 years is incredibly small. A huge percentage of college freshman (age 18) don't know what they want, and that's why colleges don't even require them to declare a major until the end of sophomore year (age 20). I can't imagine why you would put that burden on a 12 year old with special needs.

I would work on his confidence and social skills, encouraging him to participate in activities and not worry so much about grades. If he has a variety of activities (courses, clubs, informal things with friends) that work on a little of everything, you'll be giving him tons of experiences that will benefit him even if you don't see immediate practical application. Not everything is about careers, right? A lot of it is about being the kind of person who can be in any sort of job and gain a career goal and career skills.

When he finishes high school, if he's not ready for a job or college, you can consider a transition program (sort of a gap year for special needs kids). I have friends whose kids have done this, and later they find their next path.

You won't have any idea what he's good at and what he loves (2 separate things which may or may not be the same thing) unless you give him space and freedom to explore to try different things. I went to Marshall's last week and tried on 2 pairs of jeans, 3 tops and a sweater. I only picked one thing. But it wasn't a waste trying on things and finding out what didn't fit and what didn't suit me. That's what coursework is like for kids. Something can be beneficial even if it's not career-based, and something career-oriented can be a bust. And kids can change their minds from 12 to 14 to 17 to 40. It's okay.

I wouldn't be considering his next step at least until he's 16. Give him some breathing room. No teen needs this stress.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think prepping ANY young teen for a career is setting them up for difficulty. i mean, if you don't know, how would we? you presumably know him well. it's no good saying 'autistic kids make great engineers' if your kid hates that sort of thing.

very few kids know what they want to be at 12.


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answers from Minneapolis on

You are assuming that you will get to choose his career if you can figure out what would be best for him. Sorry mom, he will choose himself when it is time. Support his learning in every aspect of his life now.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Only professionals could give you an idea of what he may be capable of doing as he matures. The way you can prepare him for adulthood is to talk with professionals and ask how you can support his learning.

I hope that you mean how can he succeed in school while learning a variety of skills. Even his medical professionals cannot know what career he can have. Every student, including him, are on the same path towards adulthood. It's just your son will need more help than many other students.

My grandson has high functioning autism diagnosed when he was 4 or 5. He has had and continues to have professional support. He's now 15, in a special needs classroom for 1 period and mainstreamed in other classes. He has also been diagnosed with ADD and apraxia of speech. At first he needed regular appointments with speech, occupational and physical therapists. He's getting help with social skills. His parents and him are not talking about a career. His Mom has spent hours learning about his needs and advocating for him.

Twelve is way to early to consider a career for him. I hope that you talk with the school about how to help him learn math. My grandson's schools have all had a teacher who specialized in providing support for student's special needs.

Educate yourself about autism and how to help him succeed now? In school. He prepares for life as an adult the same as typical kids. He may need help learning how to learn. Does he have a 504 or IEP, Individual Educational Plan? Have you talked with his teacher? School personnel will help you know what he needs.

Sounds like this is a new diagnoses. Perhaps your worry is that he won't be independent. You describe his current capabilities which I suggest indicate that he will have choices when he is ready to plan for after high school activities. Focus on where he is now for learning and get help to know how to help him now. Let the future "take care of its self."

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It's best to talk this over with his guidance counselor.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I live near a national lab and know many people that work there doing science. I know quite a few "quirky" adults who are great scientists and everyone just knows they are that way (high functioning autistic people I am sure). But don't choose a career for your son! He has to go into whatever subject he is passionate about and decide for himself. Just encourage his interests. Focus on the things he is doing now in life. If you start trying to prep him for his future career at age 13 you could seriously stress him out. My son is 14 and a freshman in high school and we are starting to talk more about college.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Focus on training his social skills. He will need these skills for any future career.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I think the only way for someone to learn what they are truly interested in is to expose them to different things. With art and science who knows he could become an industrial designer.

We have a friend’s child who is in the 8th at the private school our children attend. He was just diagnosed as on the high functional end of the autism spectrum before the start of 6th grade. He loves acting and has been in a bunch of plays and musical theatre stuff. They have talked about setting goals with him. He set a goal that he wants to be apart of this local theater troupe that is very
Prestigious for kids to do.

His parents have chosen a high school with a great theater program and is working on what he needs to do to achieve his goal.

So expose him to a variety of things that peak his interest, and I have a feeling a career path will follow.

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