Career Advice from a Successful Autistic

Autistics may be a rare breed, but it it pays off handsomely to try and understand the workings of their minds. In the same way that building and bridge design improves from failures more than successes, neurologists learn more about the brain from examination of breakage whether due to accidental imperfections and handicaps from genetic lotter an unfortunate accidents than they can from observing ordinary working brains. My interest here differs slightly from that of the neurologists, for I care more about how I can boost my own processing power. In that regard, the high-functioning autistics, the ones that can explain somewhat how they think and especially what coping mechanisms they develop in order to function in the freakishly weird society the rest of us dare to consider ordinary.

Again this post is triggered from the processing and expansion of some older notes. Temple Grandin has written a wonderful book of her battle with autism, “Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism”. She has a remarkable ability to simulate 3D models in her head, which enabled a career translating them into working facilities. Even as a lover of cattle, she has designed the most productive livestock handling facilities in the nation, specifically focusing on corrals that avoid spooking the cattle on the way to slaughter. During college she also designed a ‘hug box’ that would comfort her during panic attacks. Her ability to overcome such crippling and non-visible handicap implies that she contains good advice on career building.

Expose Children to Interesting Things. “At MIT, John Blecher developed a computer program that turns mathematical equations into beautiful abstract degins”. As educators, we should be using these and similar techniques to get students hooked into our respective fields. Not only does it make for great demos and publicity, but visualization of the scientific models and data is also a key to the advancement of understanding itself.

To sell yourself you must have on hand a Portfolio of Work. I credit the motivation for all my past writing on this topic as springing from Grandin’s advice. Colleges (and students, though they little realize it) need metrics for discovering whether the learning techniques being used currently work. Right now, we have an overt focus on exams, which often tests material knowledge rather than synthesis and creativity. We need a switch from knowledge-based exams to constructive portfolio building. Career advancement happens when you can prove your fit for the job at hand, and nothing speaks louder than a list of past accomplishments. Collect into a personal website the drawings and photos of your completed work.