Unemployment despite higher education for Asperger People

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qawer
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15 Aug 2016, 11:37 am

To your knowledge, is it common for highly educated people with Asperger's Syndrome (having for instance Bachelor-, Master's- or even PhD-degrees from college) to be unemployed/underemployed (long) after they have graduated college?

My theory is that (some) relatively high-functioning autistic people with Asperger's Syndrome manage to get through college with success due to their high/normal cognitive ability, in spite of having a low social capacity. The social demands in college are not too comprehensive if the person with AS is able to get through the courses without really needing much help academically (thereby avoiding too much group-work which can have a higher social toll).

But having this higher education is really of no use afterwards because the person with Asperger's Syndrome is unable to hold down a job suitable to his level of education because of the high social demands found in the common neurotypical workplace.

Is this the common reality of most higher-functioning academic people with Asperger's Syndrome, or how do they possibly manage to make use of their higher education. Do they attempt to hold down work while suffering under the social pressure.



BTDT
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15 Aug 2016, 11:49 am

In my generation, the highest functioning people on the autism spectrum usually ended up in engineering and the sciences. I did engineering rather than science because the prospects for science didn't look good.

More recently, they end up in medical professions.



Darmok
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15 Aug 2016, 11:55 am

I think what you describe is fairly common -- unemployment or at least underemployment, or unusual employment.

This thread on educated aspies might be of interest:
viewtopic.php?t=200144


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15 Aug 2016, 12:15 pm

Look at me, I am unemployed and got an MSc in Cognitive Science (mostly interested in Neurocybernetics though).



kraftiekortie
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15 Aug 2016, 3:59 pm

And the Austrian curriculum is very demanding.

One still has to really do really well academically to get into the Gymnasium.



LupaLuna
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15 Aug 2016, 4:41 pm

I always wanted to get a Ph.D in electrical engineering, but I decided not to pursue any more education beyond high school, because collage cost money, and I felt that I would never get a return on my investment. For me, pursuing higher education would be a lot like buying/investing in a Ferrari in the 1700's, there are no gas stations or paved roads in that time.



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15 Aug 2016, 5:35 pm

It took me some years after graduation to find engineering work, but I think that was a function of economic conditions at the time as well as my difficulty presenting myself the way NT interviewers prefer. It's hard enough being one of 100 or so competing for one position, but when some of the others got years of experience in the field before being laid off and are desperate enough to seek entry-level work, well, the only people in my graduating class who didn't have problems finding work had either joined ROTC and committed to at least 4 years in the military or were lucky enough to have parents who owned a business that they'd be joining and eventually inheriting.

As for education level, I was of the first generation in my family to even complete a bachelor's degree, and had no idea at the time that there were ways to fund an advanced degree even if one's family couldn't afford it. I might have gone for some branch of science had I realized I might have managed a M.S. or Ph.D., but engineering was a major that (eventually) allowed me to find decently-paid work with the four-year degree my parents and a bunch of grants, loans, and scholarships made possible.



Alexanderplatz
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15 Aug 2016, 5:36 pm

I have an M.A. Lit one mark short of a first from a highly respected University - dole for life. I'm working class, smart, honest and can't keep my mouth shut, therefore a threat. Also my body language doesn't match what I say, and people can find that very worrying.

No problems with undiagnosed asperger's at M.A. level, the environment was all about work, and the lecturers recognised my thinking style even if they didn't have a name for the asperger's.

Degree level was dreadful, - the course was mainly about applied plaigarism with lots of psychological bullying going on. Lots of lecturers were fine, it was the toff students.

Degree level is where I encountered that cough cough bullying thing. At MA the social class was higher and there was none of it. The place was run like the French Foreign Legion, if you'd have turned up for lectures with body odour you'd have been told.



BeaArthur
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15 Aug 2016, 6:00 pm

You've asked a question about frequency: Is unemployment "common" in this group? That necessarily requires comparison to other groups. Nobody has produced this kind of information so far in this thread.

My sense is that (a) higher education does give better prospects to the person with Asperger's, but (b) in some cases, those prospects are still not high enough to justify the investment in the education.

If a person does not want to be one of these unemployed, highly-degreed types, then they need to do everything possible to improve their odds. This would include (a) selecting a degree and field that has a strong need for workers, and this is projected to continue into the future; (b) aggressively obtaining "extras" during their education that improve employability, such as internships and relevant summer jobs or volunteer work; (c) and make a point of improving their weaker social skills, through networking, group projects, study groups, and professional friendships.

With all those steps taken, I think prospects for employment are good.

Disclaimer: I have a master's degree but was underemployed - but I was employed. (I am retired now.)


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15 Aug 2016, 6:24 pm

Are there cases of Aspies able to obtain GAINFUL (key word here...I'm not counting jobs that just pay minimum wage or slightly more) employment outside of STEM?

I just never had an aptitude for STEM (I have NVLD). I do have degrees in a non-STEM field.



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15 Aug 2016, 6:25 pm

I did pretty badly in college overall, but good at my preferred courses, mostly arts. I guess I'm weird, but I loved the social aspects of college, you didn't have to think too much, parties happened, you just had to show up, plenty of alcohol to smooth things out. I hated the academics because it was too much all at once. Why do I have to learn about some things like math if I'm studying art? I couldn't make sense of the credit requirements and had to take an extra semester. I failed math completely, but the professor took pity on me and passed me with a "D" I didn't deserve. But no one checks your grades, and I succeeded in my career better than I could ever imagine. I work in a large corporation, but they are indulgent of my quirks, which mellowed with age. I've been there 17 years now. It's part art and design, part computer science. I learned everything on the job, we didn't even have computers in college (class of '93). I don't know if this is typical.



qawer
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15 Aug 2016, 7:34 pm

I never really realized this was the reality for AS people until after I had a Master's degree.
I will never regret I attained that degree though, whether it will be useful or not in the future. It should improve employment-odds quite a lot.

I did have this feeling of something being very "wrong" while at college (possibly due to not talking that much to other students most of the time), but I never fully understood how serious the situation was. I had a feeling employment would be an issue, I just could not quite put my finger on what that issue might be. I see now that the issue is a whole lot bigger than I thought at the time.


BeaArthur wrote:

Disclaimer: I have a master's degree but was underemployed - but I was employed. (I am retired now.)


That gives hope. Are you willing to reveal what underemployment covers in this case.



BeaArthur
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15 Aug 2016, 7:39 pm

Customer service - which required only a high school diploma plus some general computer skills. It wasn't a horrible job, but the pay was relatively low and there was zero room for advancement.


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16 Aug 2016, 2:46 pm

AspE wrote:
I did pretty badly in college overall, but good at my preferred courses, mostly arts. I guess I'm weird, but I loved the social aspects of college, you didn't have to think too much, parties happened, you just had to show up, plenty of alcohol to smooth things out. I hated the academics because it was too much all at once. Why do I have to learn about some things like math if I'm studying art? I couldn't make sense of the credit requirements and had to take an extra semester. I failed math completely, but the professor took pity on me and passed me with a "D" I didn't deserve. But no one checks your grades, and I succeeded in my career better than I could ever imagine. I work in a large corporation, but they are indulgent of my quirks, which mellowed with age. I've been there 17 years now. It's part art and design, part computer science. I learned everything on the job, we didn't even have computers in college (class of '93). I don't know if this is typical.


What program did you graduate?


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16 Aug 2016, 11:35 pm

I started tertiary education later, but was unable to complete it.
Although I did reasonably well in high school, I struggled with teaching methods and the stress of exams for me was a real issue. Chaotic home life did not help.
When I finally did start tertiary education I went for a B Sc with a major in Library and Information Studies. I got mainly Bs as I knew the material but could not put it into my assignments, and my assignments tended to be in plain english as opposed to info speak (which I do not understand why people use). I was unable to complete my degree because the core paper sent me suicidal (I tried the paper several times - Business communication).
I find it frustrating that I know my abilities are far more than people give me credit for, especially when I see so many people in management positions who are utterly incompetent with less people skills than I do.



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17 Aug 2016, 12:00 am

I managed to get through college on a 3/4 full time schedule, but dealing with office politics in the corporate world has been stressful as all hell. I've found the best thing for me has been to isolate myself as much as possible during the day so I intentionally stay "out of the loop".

Someone pointed out on a blog post dealing with unemployed aspies that the numbers reflect those who got diagnosed, and that there are probably many many more out there not diagnosed who figured out how to play the game successfully.


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