Work? School? Both!
In today’s world, most people jump straight from high school to college, but as a person with Aspergers I opted for a different approach that has worked quite well. I was able to arranged for Diversified Occupation, better known as Work Release, to be made part of my school schedule, meaning that I could leave school early so that I could go to a job. This way I’m still able to get my academic education, but I’m also getting hands-on experience in the real work world.
The high school that I currently attend is Lancaster Mennonite School, in Lancaster, PA. It’s a well respected Mennonite school that has a larger international student population. With this many people from different cultures, and so many different personalities, there has to be a high level of tolerance and leniency. This tolerance has been invaluable support has me as an Aspergers student. The administration has allowed me to use an iPad to help with my studies. They have paired me with teachers that have taken the time to know me as a person. My teachers have supported my individuality by guiding me to see that Aspergers is not a disability that most people consider it to be.
I currently work for Lancaster Archery Supply, the largest archery supplier on the East Coast. I first discovered the company when I became interested in archery in 2014, and learned of my natural skill with a bow and arrow. Working in the LAS warehouse, I met some of the nicest and most respectful people that I’ve ever encountered. From the start, each person that I asked to help me took the time to ensure that any questions that I had were answered and explained clearly. Because the staff were patient, I learned that it’s better to ask a question than to muddle through things. Working with such a diverse group of people also taught me that it didn’t matter whether or not I have Aspergers, we were all working together. LAS has provided me with such great experiences that I’ve decided to take a year off to work for them, and to think more deeply about what it is that I want to do with my life.
I believe that the best choice for someone transitioning from high school to college or work would be to take things slow. If you chose to work find a job that best matches your personality, challenges and all. If you choose this approach, see if your school offers a Diversified Occupation program so that you can get those vital real world experiences. Above all, take things one at a time. Do what your instincts tell you during this delicate time of your life.