Helping autistic children for a living can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
After you read this article, you will know what the best careers for working with autistic children are and how you can pick the most suitable one based on your passions and preferences.
What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological condition and learning disability that impacts a child's behaviors, development, and skills.
In brief, here are some of the main characteristics that define autism:
- Developmental Delays: Autistic children tend to develop certain skills and capabilities at a later stage in life. Examples include saying their first word and responding to their name.
- Communication Barriers: On a social level, kids with ASD show a lack of interest in playing with others, avoid maintaining eye contact, and struggle when they communicate.
- Behavioral Challenges: An autistic boy or girl may resort to aggression instead of using their words, engage in repetitive habits, and obsessively focus on a single object or activity.
- Sensitive Sensory Functions: Children with ASD are usually very sensitive to bright lights and/or loud noises.
If you're passionate about helping autistic kids overcome these issues and manage their symptoms, consider embarking on one of the career paths from the following list.
The 10 best careers for working with autistic children
Applied Behavior Analyst
An applied behavior analyst (ABA) is a therapist who specializes in evaluating a patient's behaviors and habits, identifying the environmental factors that influence them, and putting together a treatment plan accordingly.
To become an Applied Behavior Analyst, follow these steps:
- Earn a bachelor's degree in a field like psychology or education.
- Get a master's degree in applied behavior analysis or a related area.
- Pass your exam and get licensed by your state.
Those who want to take a step further in their career should think about becoming a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA).
Board Certified Behavior Analyst
A BCBA is an independent ABA therapy provider who is also in charge of overseeing Applied Behavior Analysts and other professionals that have similar certifications.
Wondering how to become a BCBA? Here is what you need to do:
- Obtain your undergraduate degree.
- Enroll in and finish a graduate program that's certified by the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).
- Find a certified supervisor to oversee your required 1,500 to 2,000 fieldwork hours.
- Pass the BCBA exam and apply for your state license.
When getting a masters degree is not possible or practical, other careers for helping autistic children may be more suitable.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialist
You can become a certified autism specialist in just four months by enrolling in a verified training program.
Many professionals who already work with children that have learning disabilities, such as psychologists and special education teachers, seek to be certified ASD specialists in order to enhance their skills and earn a higher salary.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers support kids that have a variety of emotional, neurological, and learning difficulties, including autistic children.
Before you embark on this career path, you must get an undergraduate degree. To teach at a public school, you will also need a certification or license from your state's government.
If you want to work in an educational setting, but without becoming a teacher, you have other job options, as well.
School Social Worker
School social work entails supporting students, parents, teachers, and administrators on overcoming challenges related to mental health and learning disabilities.
School social workers tend to focus on issues that students may face both at home and in the classroom.
The requirements for becoming a school social worker include getting a degree in social work and undergoing the necessary training programs.
Art therapy is provided by supervised and trained masters-degree holders who treat neurological and mental health problems through painting, drawing, and creating other forms of art.
In the same vein, music therapy revolves around singing and using musical instruments to address mental, sensory, and motor-skill difficulties.
These professionals are also required to be trained and supervised graduate-degree holders.
Horse therapy is an effective way for helping autistic children improve their symptoms. The approach mainly focuses on riding, feeding, and caring for horses.
Some horse therapy sessions are offered by non-certified specialists, while others can only be conducted by certified and licensed therapists with graduate degrees.
You may be asking yourself: What does a babysitter do for autistic children? In short, they help them (and kids, in general) with doing their homework, making meals, going to and from school, and other household tasks.
The requirements for becoming a babysitter are simple. They are as follows:
- Be at the minimum age or older, which is either 16 or 18.
- Get trained by the employer.
- Obtain each of the first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certifications.
The job duties of a babysitter are relatively basic and straightforward in comparison to similar career paths.
Professional caregivers assist patients who have physical or mental needs with fulfilling their day-to-day tasks. This includes adults and children who are diagnosed with ASD.
A caregiver is hired and trained by an employing agency. The requirements for this role are determined by the hiring company.
The same could be said about some of the other occupations that are on our list.
By going through them, you can easily find a suitable career for working with autistic children based on your academic background, willingness to enroll in graduate degree programs, professional preferences, and passions.