Non-jobs for people with autism

As many of you know, my son with autism is still a young child. But already I see that I am more and more thinking about the next 80 years of his life. I am aware (not ready to resign myself to ANYTHING at this point or any other, ever) that his life may be “non-traditional” in terms of job, home, and family.

In the past, I’ve thought about the idea of setting up an organic farm where he and folks like him could be self-sufficient, eat well, have good, honest, work in a close-knit community setting, and ultimately build a future for themselves. I’ve spent time thinking about how to restructure and break down even computer-aided instruction in programming for kids on the spectrum. Kodable is a great fun introduction to concepts and thought processing, but it doesn’t teach coding and programming in a way that pays you money.

I’ve thought about using Amazon Mechanical Turk to structure specific tasks. I’ve thought about how to package up those common task types and create instructional programs to actually teach them. 

This article describes two smartphone apps that offer random tasks to people through that channel. The samples seem very human-oriented, i.e., things that computers can in fact not do. As a plus, though, they seem to be tasks that are out in the world rather than in front of a keyboard. For many on the spectrum, avoiding isolation, whether internal or external in source, will be a lifelong challenge. I like the idea of my son walking through a grocery store more than him sitting at a table typing alone in a room.

I can see that I should start building a platform for collecting these types of small alternative task channels (for lack of a better term) and categorizing them by a few major characteristics – online, offline, speaking required, reading level, type of output, freeform vs. structured. As with any NT person, skills will always have to match up; but I suspect these other characteristics can be critical deal-breakers for someone on the spectrum, and pointing a person in the right direction is hopefully going to be a big help.


What ideas or dreams have you thought of for the person on the spectrum in your life?