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EgaoNoGenki's avatar

How fun is it to work with people with varying forms of Autism?

Asked by EgaoNoGenki (1141 points ) December 30th, 2009

I’m thinking that it could be my calling to work with Autistic people. It’s my gut telling me this. (Which is, in case I somehow fail to get into the Air Force.)

I could start with volunteer work then get promoted to a pay position one day if I keep liking the job.

I’ll most likely have to find volunteer positions on my own in the 66502 area since it’s not probable that a random Internet stranger will be able to find them for me.

But enough about the background. I need to know how fun it is to work with anyone with varying forms of autism. Does the way they act seem “cute” and make me smile? Or is it hell?

Autism is a spectrum disorder, so there’s a “right side of the spectrum,” the “middle,” and the “left.” What side is the most pleasant kind of autism to work with and how? What sides should I avoid and why?

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26 Answers

philosopher's avatar

My Son is Autistic it is not fun. It is very hard work . When they make procress it is fulfilling.

syz's avatar

What a bizarre attitude. I would think that most people who wish to work with autistic individuals would do so out of a wish to help, not for “fun”.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@philosopher “Procress?” http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_enUS354US354&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define:procress

(Don’t worry, I know you meant “proGress.” Just pointing out a flub.)

Kayak8's avatar

I think it might be wise to learn more about folks with autism before you determine that this is your calling. Just like anyone else, folks with autism have good days and bad days. While I would be reluctant to call any adult’s behavior “cute,” the nature of autism is to not necessarily “connect” with other people. Individuals with Asperger’s (often indicated as high functioning autism) may struggle with empathy. Many individuals with autism have to memorize the emotions that go along with other people’s facial expressions as this may not come naturally as it does for most of us.

I think volunteering in a program that serves individuals with autism might give you the experience that would let you determine if this really was a calling for you.

I struggle to get the inter-relationship between the Air Force and working in autism.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@syz There is some fun factor in the work, isn’t there?

faye's avatar

I would think no part of working with autistic people would be called ‘fun’.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@Kayak8 There’s no inter-relationship between that and the Air Force. To work with Autistics (and I suppose Aspies) is a secondary calling I have planned in case my primary calling in the Air Force doesn’t come to fruition.

Buttonstc's avatar

If you are looking for fun, I can’t think of a less likely place than one dealing with autistics.

Challenging and interesting, yes. Fun, not really.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@Buttonstc I thought teaching them how to play games and have other forms of fun, is a fun task in and of itself.

(I concede that it would be a small part of working with them though.)

jerv's avatar

Us Aspies can be a real hoot at parties :)

@faye That hurts!

Kayak8's avatar

@EgaoNoGenki My sense (from how you word things and how you framed your question) is that you may have first hand knowledge of part of the spectrum which makes your question all the more curious to me.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@Kayak8 You’re really good, Kayak…

definitive's avatar

I’ve also got an interest in Autism and find the spectrum fascinating. Autism is specific to that person and although there may be similar traits displayed…traits are individual to that person.

Working with people with Autism entails getting to know that person and their means of communication to enable them to feel safe and secure within their environment and alleviate any anxieties. Some people with Autism can be very complex and display behaviours that can be viewed as challenging so careful management strategies and lots of patience is necessary.

People with Aspergers Syndrome which is at the opposite ends of the spectrum can be very fun to work with and often take things literally. Also they tend to have a special talent in one particular area.

Anyway good luck with your career…I work with adults with learning disabilities, including people who have Autism…and really enjoy working with this group of people.

jerv's avatar

Seriously though, @EgaoNoGenki , it depends a bit on how patient you are and what type of ASD people you are working with.

The low-functioning people really aren’t much fun unless you derive pleasure from merely being an altruistic humanitarian. It can be rewarding and make you feel good, but chances are that they (literally) won’t even know you’re there. Not really fun in my book.

On the other hand, there are Aspies and those with HFA (High-Functioning Autism) that can be great fun to be around but are definitely a bit eccentric… and occasionally a little scary since we don’t always realize that we are freaking people out. Ever play with a Tesla coil? Something about shooting lightning bolts unnerves some people….
Aww, hell, @EgaoNoGenki , you know me! Do I seem like a fun guy to be around?

And in the middle… well, there really isn’t much of a middle unless you count certain savants. Unless you happen to share a hobby/interst with them, it’s best to avoid them if you want to be entertained.

Kayak8's avatar

@EgaoNoGenki So if you are familiar with autism, from personal experience, you clearly know the challenges therein. It may be that you would do very well in this field but know that YOUR feelings can still get hurt. I don’t know how much experience you have had around others on the spectrum, particularly who are not as high functioning as you are.

I think @jerv nailed it on the head!

Val123's avatar

It depends totally on the individual kid. I worked in a class room last week that had an autistic kid in it, and he was a blast! Others could be far more difficult.

skfinkel's avatar

Working with other human beings in any way—especially those who have a disability of any kind, requires you to treat them with respect. If you can do this and do it well, then you probably will have a rewarding experience. I don’t know if “fun” is the word. It might be worth while for you to think about what fun means to you, and how you think working with autistic people or children would be fun. You certainly don’t want to have fun at their expense.

Val123's avatar

@skfinkel GA. But….it’s always possible to enjoy certain experiences even though the circumstances are unfortunate….my Mom had Alzheimer. Some of the thing she did…could be considered “tragic” from a “normal” POV or…funny, cause that’s just the way it is, and you can’t do anything about it.
Like, um, she asked me who I was once. I told her my name, and told her I was her daughter.
Then she said, “Oh. That’s right. I had children with that guy I didn’t like (22 years of marriage.)….was that your father?”
I said, “Well, you always told us that was our father!” And I laughed…AND she laughed because she got the joke. :) !

avvooooooo's avatar

Not “fun,” not “cute.” Not anything like your idealized idea of what it might be like based only on your experience of what a blast you think you are to be around.

Val123's avatar

@avvooooooo Depends on the individual.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I can only tell you that with great challenge comes great reward.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I have never heard the words “fun” and “autism” used in the same sentence before. They are diametrical opposites, especially if you are autistic. The word “fun” as it relates to other people is not in my vocabulary. I’m not fun to be with. I don’t want to be fun to be with. I do what is necessary to get by. I mimic neutral behavior to the best of my ability if I must be around other people; my goal in such a situation is to be as near to invisible as possible and to get out of that situation as quickly as possible.

I find the question extremely strange, perhaps due to the questioners lack of any basic knowledge of what autism is. I can assure you that fun has nothing whatever to do with autism. Is it “cute” to be isolated from the world by an incurable condition? This reminds me of the stories of how in Victorian times people used to visit mental asylums to make fun of the inmates, They were actually give sticks to poke them with, to make them react and be more “funny”.

Have I laid on the sarcasm thickly enough yet?

Mozart's avatar

My brother has autism, and ‘fun’ isn’t quite the word I’d use to describe it.
Also, it would most likely depend on the individuals themselves whether you found it ‘fun’ or not.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

To add to my previous comments. Despite my Aspergers Syndrome, I was able to be part of a strong and satisfying marriage. My partner had made herself expert in issue relating to adults with AS, in addition to her practice of counselling battered women. It takes a very special kind of person to do this. It is not entered into for “fun”, rather compassion and love.

EgaoNoGenki's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I’d love finding a wife like that.

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