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Career Choices for autistic people

By Maddy McEwen; originally published on the blog Whitterer on Autism.

‘I am be…’

This is a little phrase I hear every so often. To be honest, it’s not a phrase that I ever thought I would hear because pretend play didn’t find us for a very long time.

I don’t know your priorities but I would highly recommend the following – keep a list [yes another one] . Stick your piece of paper in the kitchen. Where else [?] and add to it regularly. It makes for a delightful easy splot of nostalgia; ‘what will you be when you grow up?’

[We apply this to all family members on the theory that some day we adults may have different jobs!]

Oh how it changes.

Oh how it doesn’t resemble anything that the typical kids come up with.

All the usual fire fighter, super hero, artist options never see the light of day. Instead we have an eclectic collection of options, phases that they grow through. Do not allow your older children to destroy it as evidence they now find embarrassingly babyish.

Now I suspect that some people are a little skeptical. Maybe a child is not able to speak or is currently learning to use PECS. Sometimes we parents are apt to be a bit pessimistic about the future. Some of us aim at independence but are shaky on the details of how to achieve that goal. It can be difficult to focus on the future when so many of us are buried the daily minutiae. All I can say, is that we have done this for several years now. Initially it was merely a initial exercise in extracting speech and engaging joint attention, one of the tiny steps in the equivalent of Floortime. It had the advantage of being a neutral subject that did not trigger meltdowns, namely, boring. It served so many different functions such as taking turns, listening skills and oddly enough, being in the here and now, together.

As is so often the case, all this time later, they now volunteer information. They tell me things because they want me to know these things. For some, this point is of no consequence, bewildering, why even mention it, but for others, the true significance of such a development is almost to tantalizing to think about. If you had told me 7 years ago that this would be so, I would probably have told you to go and boil your head, because I was even grumpier then than I am now. Now, it’s your turn to tell me to go and boil my head and I’ll see you back here in seven years to compare notes.

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