Luckily, the psychiatrist who answered it did not actually provide a list of jobs he thinks people with Asperger's (or any other form of autism, or any other kind of neurological difference) can't do as well as neurotypical people!
Instead, he told the person asking the question to follow her own heart:
You can do any type of job in the world that you are good at and that you enjoy. You shouldn't let a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome hold you back from any type of employment you want to pursue. On the other hand, you shouldn't feel like you have to work in one type of job or another to meet other people's expectations.I still thought it strange, and unfortunate, that someone would ask this question at all, and would presumably accept a list of proscribed professions, should one be put forth.
Then again, I can see how someone might come to think having Asperger's would bar them from whole categories of work, given how autism and Asperger's are usually talked about.
First, there's the negative aspect of it: the endless lists of things people with autism will never be able to do. The content of these lists will vary depending on your age of diagnosis, verbal ability and apparent intelligence, but we all hear them, from a wide variety of sources. Popular descriptions of autism --- particularly Asperger's --- also make it sound as if there's just no way in the world such a person could ever be, say, a marriage counselor, actor, nurse, schoolteacher, coach or any other job requiring "people skills".
You also hear this even in the positive treatments of Asperger's syndrome! So much of the "bright side of autism/Asperger's" literature out there focuses on stereotypical Aspie strengths, like "little-professor" pedantic immersion in particular subjects, logical thinking, precise language, spatial and mathematical virtuosity, and, probably the most commonly-cited one of all, computer proficiency.
These are all fine things, assuming one has them, but if you're an autistic person who can barely read a map, or who is regularly driven to tears trying to get your computer, or phone, or TV or whatever, to do what you want it to do, or who finds hirself quickly lost in overly technical discussions, you're probably not going to be terribly reassured by talk of how autistic people are just naturally whizzes at engineering or IT.
Quite probably, hearing that will just depress you even more.
So, with that hypothetical person (as well as the real person who posted the question on CNN.com) in mind, I am posting a list of non-stereotypical jobs held by at least one autistic person:
- Social worker (Australian blogger Linda Radfem)
This Wikipedia page, and this somewhat recent post at Turner & Kowalski, gave me most of the people on my list, and also have a lot more I didn't include.