Is higher education worth it for people with Asperger syndrome? Watch

Arran90
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Is higher education worthwhile for people with Asperger syndrome or would it be better for them to get a few GCSEs / Level 2 qualifications and start work in a basic job instead?
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yoursunshinexx
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YES IT IS!!
Don't let an 'illness' stop you from continuing on higher studies. You can fight it and succeed and prove anyone who's ever said you can't wrong.
YOU can do it and I believe in you.
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lilTrain
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of course. u may even have an edge to it
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Arran90
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I'm asking the question from the perspective of employment and careers rather than acquiring a piece of paper with a grade on it.

Just because a person is excellent when it comes to mathematics, biochemistry, history of the Aztecs etc. doesn't in any way imply that they are excellent material for life in the world of corporate Britain. There's really no point spending time, money, and effort on higher education if you find out that you can do almost nothing with it in the real world unless all you care about is displaying your certificate on the wall.

There has been a discussion about the matter in home education communities. Points raised include:

Although exact figures do not exist (and many published figures cover ALL types of autistic spectrum disorders) there is certainly evidence that unemployment and underemployment is significantly higher for people with Asperger syndrome than it is for people without Asperger syndrome that hold comparable qualifications.

There is anecdotal evidence that people with Asperger syndrome tend to end up in positions that are more junior or with a lower level of responsibility and fewer opportunities to use their knowledge and skills than people without Asperger syndrome in the same organisation. They also have a greater tendency to be passed over for promotion whilst their colleagues without Asperger syndrome with a lower level of qualifications and knowledge / hard skills end up getting promoted to more senior positions.

There is a massive glut of graduates in almost all disciplines, even STEM.

As a result of there being a glut of graduates, employers are commonly using soft skills as a prominent deciding factor of who should be hired. This puts people with Asperger syndrome at a huge disadvantage.
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Student-95
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Depends on what they want to do. If you want a job that requires further education then possibly. If not then it's a waste
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Arran90
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(Original post by Student-95)
Depends on what they want to do. If you want a job that requires further education then possibly. If not then it's a waste
You haven't factored in the situation where a person wants a career that requires higher education (or is difficult to enter without) but they, after countless repeated attempts, fail to enter that career. There are hundreds of thousands of graduates who never manage to obtain a graduate job or one that makes use of their skills and knowledge but instead they can only find employment in more basic jobs. If the odds are stacked against applicants with Asperger syndrome simply because of a combination of the huge pool of graduates and employers heavily making the decisions who to hire on soft skills, then it raises questions whether a degree is a good choice for people with Asperger syndrome.

Another factor is whether the person actually enjoys the career or fits in well with their work colleagues although this is more general rather than Asperger specific.
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FakeNewsEditor
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They can make excellent academics. Academia is pretty much excelling in a very narrow field of specialisation. So, consider a PhD.
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Dilof
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This assumes everyone with Aspergers has the exact same traits and problems fitting in to society. It's a case by case basis as with every other human being, some are better suited for HE while others aren't.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Dilof)
This assumes everyone with Aspergers has the exact same traits and problems fitting in to society. It's a case by case basis as with every other human being, some are better suited for HE while others aren't.
You make a valid point. HE is very different from school education.

However, assume for the purpose of this discussion that the individuals in question have graduated and hold a degree or similar higher level qualification.
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Jackudy3
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This thread raises a very interesting point, one that I've never come across before.

As someone with ASD, I'd argue that higher education is worth it because without obtaining that degree you'd only be putting yourself at an even further disadvantage against other "ordinary" graduates, because now not only would they have a superior array of soft skills but higher qualifications than you to boot. Not getting a degree purely because you have ASD is a horrible idea, as it's essentially admitting defeat before you have even tried (not suggesting there aren't other routes than a degree, but you get my point).

Sure, you might lose out on a couple of jobs that you would otherwise have obtained if you had the soft skills to sell yourself for them, but in careers such as technology (one that ASD sufferers are renowned for going into), it's almost expected of any graduate to be a bit introverted, and if you try hard enough and really put yourself out there getting that job can still be done.

Once you're in a graduate job, your CV will speak for itself from that point onwards. This will make it easier to get employed based on what you have delivered in past roles as opposed to a chat with an employer by way of an interview fresh out of uni, with only some letters and numbers behind you just like everybody else.

tl;dr not doing higher education as an ASD sufferer is admitting defeat, try hard enough to get the job and eventually someone will hire you because you have the skillset just not the soft skills. Once you have done this your CV will speak for itself and soft skills will be less required to sell yourself.
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Student-95
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(Original post by Arran90)
You haven't factored in the situation where a person wants a career that requires higher education (or is difficult to enter without) but they, after countless repeated attempts, fail to enter that career. There are hundreds of thousands of graduates who never manage to obtain a graduate job or one that makes use of their skills and knowledge but instead they can only find employment in more basic jobs. If the odds are stacked against applicants with Asperger syndrome simply because of a combination of the huge pool of graduates and employers heavily making the decisions who to hire on soft skills, then it raises questions whether a degree is a good choice for people with Asperger syndrome.

Another factor is whether the person actually enjoys the career or fits in well with their work colleagues although this is more general rather than Asperger specific.
The same situation applies to many students without aspergers and I did factor it in by saying 'possibly'. There's a chance you go through higher education but don't end up using it.
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Kill3rCat
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All of the responses to this thread seem to be largely missing the OP's point. Many people with ASD often find social interaction difficult, even though they may be intelligent and academically gifted. This doesn't necessarily mean they will find it difficult to start and continue a mundane conversation with another person, but rather it means they may lack tact, empathy and have problems with things such as predicting other people's behaviour, or finding the right thing to say in any given situation. They may not be particularly talented at navigating the minefield that is the peculiarities of human social protocol, or constructing a useful model of other people's behaviour and using that model to help them in social situations or predict behaviour. In short, they often lack social skills.

I acknowledge this is not universally true, and there are autistic people who are only mildly afflicted, and thus are not significantly inhibited in social interaction, however, the vast majority of autistic people do have at least slight difficulty with social interaction, with this difficulty being more pronounced amongst those with more severe autism.

(Original post by crazygoatlady)
Sorry, I think that this is rather ignorant. (Or this has hit a nerve).

Everyone is unique. Some people without an autistic spectrum disorder will not function as well in certain jobs, it depends what difficulties an individual may face?

I have my "few" 10 A* GCSES, have excelled in the "basic job" including retail actually (we can have great social skills too).
I won't be an unemployed vet. I will specialise in my "special interest". I could list the wonderful gifts autism has given me to do the work I do.

So to any other autistic readers, don't care about the other opinion. Autism is a gift, use your gift through higher education (if this suits you as a unique human being).
Reply to above: Autism is not universally a gift. Clearly you are on the very high-functioning end of autism, and for that reason, your experiences do not translate to the majority of those so afflicted. Many autistic people, regardless of how academically gifted they may be, are held back in a realistic workplace environment by the inherent psychosocial hindrances of ASD. You are the exception, not the rule.
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FakeNewsEditor
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(Original post by Kill3rCat)
All of the responses to this thread seem to be largely missing the OP's point. Many people with ASD often find social interaction difficult, even though they may be intelligent and academically gifted. This doesn't necessarily mean they will find it difficult to start and continue a mundane conversation with another person, but rather it means they may lack tact, empathy and have problems with things such as predicting other people's behaviour, or finding the right thing to say in any given situation. They may not be particularly talented at navigating the minefield that is the peculiarities of human social protocol, or constructing a useful model of other people's behaviour and using that model to help them in social situations or predict behaviour. In short, they often lack social skills.

I acknowledge this is not universally true, and there are autistic people who are only mildly afflicted, and thus are not significantly inhibited in social interaction, however, the vast majority of autistic people do have at least slight difficulty with social interaction, with this difficulty being more pronounced amongst those with more severe autism.



Reply to above: Autism is not universally a gift. Clearly you are on the very high-functioning end of autism, and for that reason, your experiences do not translate to the majority of those so afflicted. Many autistic people, regardless of how academically gifted they may be, are held back in a realistic workplace environment by the inherent psychosocial hindrances of ASD. You are the exception, not the rule.
You need no social skills to excel as an academic or researcher.
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Kill3rCat
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(Original post by Arran90)
Is higher education worthwhile for people with Asperger syndrome or would it be better for them to get a few GCSEs / Level 2 qualifications and start work in a basic job instead?
There's no simple answer to this question, it can only really be addressed on an individual basis. Autism is a spectrum, with characteristics of autism varying both in existence and severity depending upon the person. People with mild autism may only have minor difficulties with social interaction, if any. Those more afflicted may have much greater difficulty. Ultimately, the answer to the question must be predicated entirely upon the abilities and difficulties of that individual.

If this question directly pertains to your personal academic decisions, introspection must be your first port of call.
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Kill3rCat
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(Original post by FakeNewsEditor)
You need no social skills to excel as an academic or researcher.
Agreed, but you do need social skills for most workplace environments, which is for most people the whole point of entering higher education.
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FakeNewsEditor
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(Original post by Kill3rCat)
Agreed, but you do need social skills for most workplace environments, which is for most people the whole point of entering higher education.
Academia or working for think tanks, labs, etc (depending on whether you're STEM or not) doing research is what I recommended for the OP.
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Kill3rCat
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(Original post by FakeNewsEditor)
Academia or working for think tanks, labs, etc (depending on whether you're STEM or not) doing research is what I recommended for the OP.
Sure, but there are still instances where social skills are very important. If you are teaching in academia as a professor, for example, you will need to be able to interact with your students proficiently, not only in order to be approachable in the first place, but to actually render assistance. If you want to become the head of a department, academic or otherwise, it will be very important to be able to interact with your colleagues in a socially competent way.

Even if we're just talking about entry-level jobs, as the OP pointed out, amongst two applicants with equal qualifications, an employer is more likely to select the applicant who has good people skills. Even amongst researchers - afaik most published academic/scientific papers have more than one name on them - you need to be able to interact and co-ordinate with your fellow researchers.
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sinfonietta
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Depends on their personal goals and motivation. If that's what it takes for an individual to get to where they want to be then they should go for it regardless of what obstacles might make it harder.
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FakeNewsEditor
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(Original post by Kill3rCat)
Sure, but there are still instances where social skills are very important. If you are teaching in academia as a professor, for example, you will need to be able to interact with your students proficiently, not only in order to be approachable in the first place, but to actually render assistance. If you want to become the head of a department, academic or otherwise, it will be very important to be able to interact with your colleagues in a socially competent way.

Even if we're just talking about entry-level jobs, as the OP pointed out, amongst two applicants with equal qualifications, an employer is more likely to select the applicant who has good people skills. Even amongst researchers - most published academic/scientific papers have more than one name on them - you need to be able to interact and co-ordinate with your fellow researchers.
If you teach at a large research university (the UK doesn't have liberal arts colleges or w/e anyway), the test of your competence is research. You're promoted almost solely on the basis of your publishing record. Teaching is a 2nd rate concern at these institutions.

I don't think they should go for management positions, they can become full professors, earn pretty good salaries and do what they love.
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Kill3rCat
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(Original post by FakeNewsEditor)
If you teach at a large research university (the UK doesn't have liberal arts colleges or w/e anyway), the test of your competence is research. You're promoted almost solely on the basis of your publishing record. Teaching is a 2nd rate concern at these institutions.

I don't think they should go for management positions, they can become full professors, earn pretty good salaries and do what they love.
Sure, but like I said, often you'll still have to co-operate with other researchers. Social skills are never entirely removed from the equation. And while promotion may not be, actually getting employed in the first place often is, taking into account both your qualifications and 'soft skills'.

And besides, not everyone wants to get a job as a researcher. Anyway, the OP's question was about whether higher education was viable in the context of employment. I quote:

(Original post by Arran90)
I'm asking the question from the perspective of employment and careers rather than acquiring a piece of paper with a grade on it.

Just because a person is excellent when it comes to mathematics, biochemistry, history of the Aztecs etc. doesn't in any way imply that they are excellent material for life in the world of corporate Britain. There's really no point spending time, money, and effort on higher education if you find out that you can do almost nothing with it in the real world unless all you care about is displaying your certificate on the wall.

There has been a discussion about the matter in home education communities. Points raised include:

Although exact figures do not exist (and many published figures cover ALL types of autistic spectrum disorders) there is certainly evidence that unemployment and underemployment is significantly higher for people with Asperger syndrome than it is for people without Asperger syndrome that hold comparable qualifications.

There is anecdotal evidence that people with Asperger syndrome tend to end up in positions that are more junior or with a lower level of responsibility and fewer opportunities to use their knowledge and skills than people without Asperger syndrome in the same organisation. They also have a greater tendency to be passed over for promotion whilst their colleagues without Asperger syndrome with a lower level of qualifications and knowledge / hard skills end up getting promoted to more senior positions.

There is a massive glut of graduates in almost all disciplines, even STEM.

As a result of there being a glut of graduates, employers are commonly using soft skills as a prominent deciding factor of who should be hired. This puts people with Asperger syndrome at a huge disadvantage.
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