Freelancing on the Spectrum

autism-3759586__340So, here’s what happened.

My 16-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with ASD — she is at the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Believe me when I say that, as a mother, this has put me into a tailspin as I process her diagnosis and what it means for her and her future.

Now, naturally I’ve been reading and researching the shit out of this. I am learning SO MUCH. Like the fact that girls are severely under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Like the challenges ASD people have socializing. Or the challenges some face visualizing the future and the outcomes of potential choices. Or the challenges many face at holding down a job.

Being on the cusp of adulthood with one year of high school left, post-secondary education, and a future career, I am concerned about my daughter’s future and the type of job she can realistically do. This includes short-term employment, while she pursues higher education.

Of course, she plans to work with animals as a career. They are her obsession, her shield-1020318__340life. However, she is also a good writer. And with online freelancing, nearly all communication is through writing (at least that’s my experience) — potentially making work as a freelancer something very appealing and doable for her and other people on the spectrum.

Just think about all the freelancing possibilities! Writing, editing, graphic design, web design, app design, photography, artistry. These are all professions that can be done online, using a person’s innate skills and talents, while minimizing potentially stressful contact with others. The benefits include things like:

  • Being able to avoid the traditional job interview in favor of online queries and proposals that are written and can be crafted with care
  • Networking online, as opposed to networking in person
  • Success on the job being results-based, without social skills playing a huge part
  • Giving attention to detail center stage

Of course, I know there are also challenges for someone on the spectrum who is freelancing. Nothing is perfect. There is still communicating with clients, understanding what they want, staying organized and motivated. But I feel freelancing could be a good choice for many people on the spectrum and for others with mental or physical disabilities.

This is all very new for me and I am adjusting and thinking about it, not just in terms of break-2642605_640my daughter, but in broader terms. Even 15-20 years ago, online options weren’t available. Now, people can make a good living online, through freelancing, online consulting or coaching, or by running an online business.

There are so many people out there who can benefit from this. I’ve also been talking with my daughter about starting an online business, since she has become a reptile expert that is well known and respected in the online reptile community.

Honestly, freelancing and online business could be the answer for many people who have difficulty working in the brick-and-mortar world. And yes, I am well aware that it may not be the right answer for everyone or a cure-all for the challenges many people face. But it is a valid option for many. And of course, it is the preferred choice for so many of us simply because of the freedom it gives us.

If any of this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you!

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