Many parents of kids with Asperger Syndrome worry about what will happen to their child once they have to go out into the great, wide world and fend for themselves.
Ok, so all parents worry about this!
But parents of Aspie kids have some very particular concerns: we tend to be ‘anything but middle ground’ people!
And, let’s face it: our school systems are teaching a series of skills (a sort of a skills ‘tool set’) which will enable ‘middle ground’ kids to succeed. And that is understandable – aiming at the ‘middle-ground majority’ will definitely provide a statistically successful outcome in that the most kids will learn how to succeed the most; the old ’80/20′ rule (80% of results are obtained by 20% of the effort, but the remaining 20% of results will demand 80% of the effort to get them ‘right’).
This is not at all helpful when you (or your kid) falls outside the proverbial ‘2 standard deviations from the mean’… and need to learn a very different set of tools in order to succeed in life! Many Aspies have a difficult and frustrating time in school and they are not ‘getting as much’ out of it as their peers do. Therefore, many parents worry.
Just today I was talking to a mom of an Aspie who is worried about his future. She can see the potential in him – he is truly very, very intelligent! But, his school marks are not reflecting his intelligence, he often gets sad and sometimes he becomes withdrawn. To my untrained eye, that sounds like the Aspie (10 years old) might be slipping into depression: it is very common for even child-Aspies to become clinically depressed when they see they are more intelligent and know more than their peers, yet they are not succeeding and people (parents, teachers) are disapointed in them (or their peers mock them for it).
This very intelligent mom (herself an educator) saw the potential in her son, both on the ‘good’ side as well as on the ‘bad’ side: she could see him as either a professor or scientist – or homeless and destitute… depending on whether he learned to ‘fit in’ to the school system, or not!
That is not so! Of course, Aspies could end up without marketable skills, poor and homeless! But then again, everyone could…
There ARE non-academic careers where Aspies DO excel!
All kinds of artisans, or any kind of ‘specialists’ – skilled in a very particular thing – those are all things that Aspies can shine in! Or, in the least, make a name for themselves and make a living at it.
Think about it: if an Aspie finds a field in which they are interested, they will not stop before they learn everything there is to know about it, refine their knowledge, build specific rules and procedures which they have extensively tested and found to be most optimal. They often see ‘solutions’ where others do not. And, they are (usually) not afraid to tell people how to ‘do it right’…
From goldsmiths who craft the most beautiful jewelry to blacksmiths who make old-fashioned swords and armour (actually very popular these days), true to the ‘old methods’ – or who can make custom metal railing and chandeliers. From chefs, who specialize in a narrow field of cooking and become most sought out for their skill and knowledge in how to prepare the best tasting bits of food to clothing designers, who look at a garment and see the pattern of how it was made. From cabinetmakers who can replicate period pieces using traditional tools and methods or make the best quality, modern pieces of furniture that ‘works’ or those who can make the most specialized custom kitchen cabitnets to landscapers who feel the best way to pattern interlock bricks and flowerbeds!
And that is just the tip of the iceberg!
Don’t get me wrong, many Aspies do succeed in the world of academics: I suspect that more Math/Physics/Linguistics/Engineering professors are Aspies that not. That is why ‘Aspergers’ is often called ‘the little professor syndrome’! But academics are not the only options open to Aspies when it comes to careers!
We just have to find a field – and we CAN ‘own it’! We just have to be told that we can…when we are young and before we give up trying to find ‘our field’. Once we know we can, we WILL succeed: after all, that IS ‘the rule’!
If we can stick with just one field long enough…
Cross-posted on ‘Xanthippa on Aspergers’