Aspies and careers

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  But, his school marks are not reflecting his intelligence, he often gets sad and sometimes he becomes withdrawn.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’

One Response to “Aspies and careers”

  1. The LS from SK Says:

    Here X is a disaster waiting to happen – across the Pond. Asp and ADD are what? Shame and a pox on the houses of these politicians.

    Couldn’t Obama invite them all for a BEER?

    Now show some guts, Mr Johnson: Judges say Home Secretary CAN order Gary McKinnon to be tried here
    By Michael Seamark and James Slack
    Last updated at 12:43 AM on 01st August 2009

    Alan Johnson is under huge pressure to ‘pluck up the courage’ to save Gary McKinnon after judges warned he might kill himself if extradited.

    They ruled they could not stop the Government from sending him to the U.S., where the vulnerable Asperger’s sufferer faces up to 60 years behind bars.

    But the two High Court judges declared in a pointed statement that, if extradited, ‘his mental health will suffer and there are risks of worse, including suicide’.

    ‘This sorry saga’: Gary McKinnon and his mother Janis Sharp
    Crucially, the judges also said the 43-year-old computer hacker could be prosecuted in London – a process which would automatically halt extradition.

    Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: ‘The succession of government ministers who have let this sorry saga drag on for seven long years should bow their heads in shame.

    ‘It is time for Alan Johnson to pluck up the courage and ensure that Gary McKinnon is tried in a British court. Nothing else will do.’

    Tory leader David Cameron said: ‘Gary McKinnon is a vulnerable young man and I see no compassion in sending him thousands of miles away from his home and loved ones to face trial. If he has questions to answer, there is a clear argument to be made that he should answer them in a British court.’

    In a day of drama at the High Court, lawyers for 43-year-old Mr McKinnon – who admits hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers looking for ‘little green men’ – lost their latest legal battle to stop the extradition.

    His mother Janis Sharp said she was ‘heartbroken’ at the decision but vowed to fight on and try and take his case to the new Supreme Court, which in October replaces the Law Lords as the highest court in the land.

    She made an impassioned plea for help to President Barack Obama, and was backed by a letter signed by 40 MPs urging the U.S. leader to ‘end this shameful episode’.
    Supporters of Mr McKinnon – who is backed by a Daily Mail campaign – seized on the admission by Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Wilkie that his autism would make him a grave suicide risk in U.S. jails.

    Legal experts have cited this as sufficient grounds for Mr Johnson to stop the extradition process.

    ‘We cannot let this be the end of the road’: Trudie Styler, wife of rock star Sting, with Gary McKinnon’s mother Janis
    The judges, in their 41-page ruling, accepted there was compelling evidence of a grave threat to Mr McKinnon’s mental health but said this was not severe enough to amount to a breach of his human rights and refused to block his removal under the controversial 2003 Extradition Act.

    But the fact that they confirmed the case can be properly prosecuted in the UK heaps even greater pressure on Mr Johnson as it means Mr McKinnon need not go to the U.S. to face justice.

    The Home Secretary was last night still insisting he does not have the power to intervene.

    In a terse statement he said: ‘It would be illegal for me to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon, which the court ruling has made clear. Mr McKinnon is accused of serious crimes and the U.S. has a lawful right to seek his extradition, as we do when we wish to prosecute people who break our laws.

    ‘He is accused of hacking into 97 U.S. Army, Navy, Nasa and Defence Department computers at a critical time immediately following the 9/11 attacks and leaving the military network vulnerable to intruders. The court judgment has also made absolutely clear that the DPP’s decision not to prosecute in the UK was the right one.
    ‘My predecessor has already sought and received clear assurances from the U.S. that Mr McKinnon’s health and welfare needs would be met, should he be extradited.’

    More…As McKinnon faces jail in America, meet the killers, hijackers and terrorists whose human rights DO count
    NICK CLEGG: If they drag him to America, he will never come back

    But at least three of the country’s top lawyers have said Mr Johnson is wrong and he can – and must – step in.
    Outside court Mr McKinnon’s mother said: ‘If the law says it’s fair to destroy someone’s life in this way then it’s a bad law.

    ‘Our hope still lies with the Government. What more evidence do Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson need to understand what extraditing Gary would do to him, let alone to us?

    ‘Gary would not survive and I would never see my son again. If you are talking about a 60-year sentence, if he did 30 years I would never see him again because I’d be dead. All to oblige the Americans?’

    In her appeal to President Obama, she said: ‘Stand by us and make this world a better place, a more compassionate place.’

    She added: ‘Obama wouldn’t have this. He doesn’t want the first guy extradited for computer misuse to be a guy with Asperger’s, a UFO guy. He wouldn’t want this.

    ‘I’m just praying. Please hear us Obama, because I know you would do the right thing. I know you would have the strength to stand up and not have this.’

    Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee who angrily announced his resignation as an MP because ‘spineless’ MPs refused to back Mr McKinnon’s case in a Commons vote, said: ‘The very least the Home Secretary should do is indicate that he will be in no hurry to execute this extradition, both for humanitarian reasons and to allow time for diplomatic efforts.

    ‘The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary should be indicating to the Obama administration that this is not going down well in the UK and raises big questions about the extradition treaty. I would have thought there is scope for diplomacy in this case.

    Terse: Home secretary Alan Johnson claimed it would be ‘illegal’ for him to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon
    Mr McKinnon’s solicitor Karen Todner said his legal team would try to take the case to the Supreme Court and, if necessary, Europe. ‘We have lost another battle but we haven’t lost the war yet. We won’t give up because this is wrong. The ruling is very disappointing but we shall not stop here.
    ‘Alan Johnson still has the power to act. We have 28 days to review the judgment and will continue to explore every legal avenue until we achieve a just and proper result.
    ‘In the meantime I implore the governments of both countries to please act and stop this extradition-It is inhumane. It is an affront to British justice.
    ‘What does it take to make this government sit up and listen to the clear public view that Gary McKinnon should not be extradited? The extradition treaty with America was brought in to facilitate the extradition of terrorists and it must be clear to anyone following this case that Gary McKinnon is no terrorist.’
    The National Autistic Society, which is supporting Mr McKinnon, said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ at the decision.

    Amanda Batten, the charity’s head of policy and campaigns, said: ‘We are angry that Gary is still in this position. We will continue campaigning and do all we can to support Gary to stay in the UK.’

    What they say about the caseDavid Cameron
    Leader of the Conservative Party

    ‘I am deeply saddened and disappointed with this decision. Gary McKinnon is a vulnerable young man and I see no compassion in sending him thousands of miles away from his home and loved ones to face trial.’

    ‘Today’s judgment is a hammer blow to a vulnerable man and his loyal supporters. ‘The succession of government ministers who have let this sorry saga drag on for seven long years should bow their heads in shame. It is time for Alan Johnson to pluck up the courage and ensure that Gary McKinnon is tried in a British court.’

    ‘This is a case where there is a clear argument for it to be tried in this country, and our system should take health issues into account before considering deportation. I hope lessons will be learned.’

    ‘Reason and common sense dictate that Gary’s extradition would be abhorrent. We cannot let this be the end of the road. It is quite clear that Gary is a deeply vulnerable man, ill equipped to cope with the trauma of extradition.’

    Chris Huhne
    LimDem Home Affairs spokesman
    ‘Today’s judgment is a hammer blow to a vulnerable man and his loyal supporters.

    ‘The succession of government ministers who have let this sorry saga drag on for seven long years should bow their heads in shame. It is time for Alan Johnson to pluck up the courage and ensure that Gary McKinnon is tried in a British court.’

    Chris Grayling
    Shadow Home Secretary
    ‘The people who should hang their heads in shame are the members of the Government who negotiated an extradition treaty with the United States which places British citizens in a much weaker position than their American counterparts.

    ‘If this was happening in America there would be a public outcry and Congress would be moving might and main to prevent it.’

    Trudie Styler
    Campaigner on Gary’s behalf

    ‘Reason and common sense dictate that Gary’s extradition would be abhorrent. We cannot let this be the end of the road. It is quite clear that Gary is a deeply vulnerable man, ill equipped to cope with the trauma of extradition.’
    Sir Menzies Campbell
    Former LibDem leader
    ‘The people who should hang their heads in shame are the members of the Government who negotiated an extradition treaty with the United States which places British citizens in a much weaker position than their American counterparts. If this was happening in America there would be a public outcry and Congress would be moving might and main to prevent it.’


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