One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard about career choice, is to find your passion/keen interest and create a job out of it. I’m still floundering around not knowing what I want to be when I grow up (despite being in my 40s), but have decided to put some direction into my ‘one day, maybe, if I ever start working’ job prospects.
I’ve enrolled into a graduate certificate in autism studies course. I can do it super part time (one unit at a time) and all online. Why? A few reasons, the first being that since my son and later my daughter received a diagnosis of Aspergers, I’ve witnessed the lack of understanding and support required from teachers and school in general. Not just the frustrating experience we’ve had the last two years in i.e., getting a modified timetable for my daughter or the constant repeating to every teacher my son has about what he needs in order to learn best, but what I’ve seen when being a classroom helper for my youngest’s class (who isn’t on the spectrum). I realise teachers have a massive job, with all the learning differences, emotional and psychological problems plus family issues all affecting each child differently!! I couldn’t do it! But, there is such a massive need in the classroom for a better understanding of autism, particularly given that it’s still fairly new on the DSM horizon.
It’s been like hitting my head against a brick wall finding cooperation at school for my daughter. The one saving grace was my friend starting there this year as the school psychologist. I was able to state what we needed from the school and she could generally make it happen. Where as before that, I was almost getting into arguments with the head of senior school who just could not see why things had to be done differently. Coming from a parent, it wasn’t valid, but from the mouth of the psychologist, it was acceptable. (Cue a massive eye roll there!).
Hopefully, with my psychology registration (I’ll have to drag it out of its 12 years in hiding) I feel if I add a specialisation in autism, I might be able to create a job for myself that can try to fill some of the holes the education system here has. I’d like to be able to visit schools and work with teachers on how best to meet the needs of individual students, not just a blanket coverage of a standard child on the spectrum, because as we know, there is no such child.
The other reason I feel drawn to this path is that I find myself energised and excited by it. I’m constantly searching for information, whether it’s research based text books or personal blogs that I’m reading/watching, I feel I can’t get enough and that I’m thirsty for more information, trying to drink in as much as I can. If I am “Aspergerian“, then this is one sure sign for it, as this must be my ‘special interest’. Speaking to a friend about it the other day, I said how I was looking forward to my studies, to which she replied “I can tell”. I realised then that I’d hardly contributed to the conversation between the four of us, but once I was on this topic, the words flowed from me! You can probably tell by my very long sentences and gabbling here too, that my brain is running faster than my thumb can on this iPhone keyboard! – The imagery I’m getting right now of what it’s like to have something you want to talk about but know you’ve hit your quota of topic time, is that of being on a horse who is prancing and ready to go and you want to bolt too, but not being allowed to, instead having to pull the reins in and hop off.
So (I’m trying to pull the reins in now), I’m hoping next year brings direction for me, a continued quenching of my search for knowledge on this topic and that I don’t bore those around me too much as I collect more knowledge on the subject! Hopefully, then I can create a job description of my own where I can run with the topic that excites me (allowed to gallop on the horse) and work towards improving the school environment for children on the spectrum.
Who has directed their careers to somehow include their keen interest? I’d love to know what and how you’ve achieved this!