Jobs for Asperger’s adults in Canberra?

meggsy 9 January 2011 18


I’m back looking for help again 🙂

My 20 year old son is looking for work after completing a Advanced Diploma in Games Development at AIE and working part time at McDonalds. Games Development is a difficult field to get into, with most of the work interstate, and he is not ready at this stage to move away from home. While he is looking at his options for getting into this field he is open to other career/job opportunities and is pretty much willing to do anything.

While he is extremely bright and a good worker his Asperger’s means he does have some difficulties with communication, socialising and coping with stressful situations.

Are there any Asperger’s sufferers/parent’s of Asperger’s sufferers out there who can offer any experience/advice/hints on the whole job hunting process?


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18 Responses to Jobs for Asperger’s adults in Canberra?
meggsy meggsy 9:31 am 13 Jan 11

Thanks for your post and your support, Katetonia. …Asperger’s can be quite difficult to understand unless you are close to someone who has it… I can relate to both aspects of Asperger’s that you described.

My son struggles in several areas of communication..he has difficulty with asking questions/knowing what to say as well trying to put his thoughts into words… after one of his phone calls to a DES agency we had a talk about it being okay to say ‘I don’t understand the question/what you’re asking’ ..we also discuss what he is going to say before he makes phone calls and questions he should ask …and dealing with other people’s emotions is absolutely a minefield for him..

He is okay with simple tasks that he has done before but he struggles with unfamiliar situations/tasks particularly where he is required to think on his feet/problem solve/think logically through the steps of a process especially when under pressure..EG stuck on the side of road with a flat tyre/car accident…. so the whole job finding process is very difficult for him in terms of working out what to do, how and when to do it, coping with the pressure of interviews and just keeping the whole process moving…

But he has contacted Centrelink and 2 DES agencies and is handing out resumes/filling in web job apps/keeping an eye on (and applied for) job ads in the paper so we’re on the way and he’s doing well although it’s really hard for him ..Hopefully this (and Katetonia’s post) might help people understand Asperger’s a little better and the issues faced by Asperger’s job seekers…

LSWCHP LSWCHP 8:04 pm 12 Jan 11

mikal said :

I reckon most of the engineers I work with are on the spectrum, so I don’t think that’s a limiting factor for a career in IT. /

Heh Heh Heh…you’re absolutely correct.

I’m an engineer, and have worked in engineering for over 20 years now. And my discovery of the existence of Aspergers Syndrome a few years ago made the frequently baffling behaviour of most of my colleagues crystal clear.

Ummm…eerrrmm…ahhhh…that doesn’t apply to me of course.


Katietonia Katietonia 6:33 pm 12 Jan 11

To all those that are saying get an IT support job, you are forgetting her son has aspergers. My brother has aspergers and two things would inhibit him from working in any kind of support job and being happy at the same time. (realistically)

1. communications skills, many people with aspergers find it very stressful communicating, especially with angry public servants that want their computers fixed

2. initiative, I don’t know about your son but my brother requires someone to tell him what to do before he will do it, he won’t just notice something needs to be done, and do it, such as a job queue or taking tickets from a ticketing system. He’d need someone to give them to him and tell him step by step how to do it.

You should definitely seek the help of a disability services employment officer. It’s more realistic than expecting him to pass a ridiculous public service job interview. It really depends how deeply he is affected though.

All that said my brother is also looking for a job, having been fired from the two crappy production line jobs that government job centres pushed him into, knowing full well that he has a severe hand tremor and can’t do anything delicate. This has almost crushed his confidence to levels a “normal person” wouldn’t experience.

mikal mikal 2:11 pm 11 Jan 11

Diggle said :

There is also quite a lot of non-government software development in Canberra and someone like Tower (as far as I know a company founded in Canberra) might be worth a look.

TOWER (yes, they shout it) is now a wholly owned subsidiary of HP. I’m not aware of many interesting startups in Canberra at the moment, although I’m happy to be re-educated.

Diggle Diggle 8:59 am 11 Jan 11

While the ACT has a very strong IT industry (mainly government) there is very little in Game Development. Provided his degree is more about logic and programming than design and graphics, he should have little trouble getting work in a Support or Development role (as many have said before me, IT has historically been a field where many people have poor people skills (or any social skill at all), and the public service seems particularly indifferent to people’s abilities in this area).

As well as the APS Jobs website, many departments may have their own recruitment sites if there is a particular area he would be more interested in, and many will have opportunities from Entry Level positions to fairly senior technical roles. The public service does sometimes struggle to match Private Enterprise wages in technical roles, and unless he would be comfortable working as a contractor, he might like to consider trying one of the outsourcing companies that deal with the government. The ones that immediately spring to mind (though I’m sure there’s others):
EDS/HP, Accenture, IBM, KAZ/Fujitsu.

There is also quite a lot of non-government software development in Canberra and someone like Tower (as far as I know a company founded in Canberra) might be worth a look. Any Development experience should hold him in good stead for a role in Game Development, and he might find that the work in another role is just as (if not more) enjoyable. I think many aspiring Programmers want to get into game development, but many senior programmers are glad that that’s not the path they ended up focusing on….

If Game Development is something he still wants to pursue in the longer term, there are some significant Game companies in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide (if they’re still there….)

Gooch Gooch 10:34 am 10 Jan 11

As for the long term, there is only one place to work in Canberra as a games developer which is 2K Marin (formerly part of Irraitonal Games). Their works include the recent Bioshock titles and are currently working on XCOM.

mikal mikal 10:04 am 10 Jan 11

I reckon most of the engineers I work with are on the spectrum, so I don’t think that’s a limiting factor for a career in IT. However, if he’s interested in games, get him a modern smartphone (android or iphone), and encourage him to start writing games for it. There are plenty of people making an independent living from apps for these platforms. IIRC the Angry Birds folk turn over $1 million a month on Android alone.

JessP JessP 10:02 am 10 Jan 11

To find a APS job you need to have a look at the gazette which is now a website:

Search under ACT and IT!

Good Luck!

watto23 watto23 9:53 am 10 Jan 11

I don’t know your son, but there are many people in IT who would be diagnosed or have what they call aspergers syndrome. I find that the parents are much better at making a big deal out of it than it really is.

I wouldn’t shy away from the sort term work. As his mother just be there to provide support when he needs it. Unfortunately life is stressful and the APS is a frustrating and stressful environment, especially to those with a bit of intelligence or in IT. It frustrates the hell out of me and I work for a private IT company doing work for the government.

I also find todays society is great at labelling things and I think it makes it worse. Growing up, I didn’t speak (not a word til I was 6 apparently), wasn’t social at all and very shy. In todays society i’m sure i’d have been labelled something. I think now at 35 I’ve turned out alright. I’m not the most social person, but far more social than I was.

So I reckon just let him apply for some IT jobs, don’t mention aspergers to any employer and see how it goes. Many of the entry level jobs don’t need quals, besides he has done the AIE course which shows he is intelligent.

meggsy meggsy 9:35 am 10 Jan 11

Thanks guys..this has all been really helpful and my son is making phone calls today to follow up on the information above…

Just a couple of questions in relation to the IT Sector in the APS..

Does he need qual’s/experince for that?
Are there any ways to go about this apart from checking the APS Gazette regualrly? Unfortunately due to the Asperger’s he would not cope well with temporary contracts/short term work which I realise is one of the best ways to get a start in the APS.

Thanks again

sbittinger sbittinger 9:26 am 10 Jan 11

I suggest you come along to one of the regular adult Asperger discussion group meetings run by AustismAsperger ACT. We discuss topics like this on a regular basis. Both parents and adults with Aspergers are welcome. See details at

I also recommend the disability employment support services provided by Chris Oppert at LEAD Chris has a deep understanding of Asperger Syndrome, and has been of enormous help to my son (who has Aspergers).

Muttsybignuts Muttsybignuts 9:15 pm 09 Jan 11

Advance Personnel are excellent. Their details are:
18 Corinna Street
Phillip ACT 2606
(02) 6285 2466

Dazzlar Dazzlar 8:28 pm 09 Jan 11

What about an employment agency that has a program supporting people who need extra help entering the workforce? I know that Mission Australia used to have a program. They will usually provide x number of hours training and then ongoing support for a certain period of time. Worth contacting Mission perhaps and if they don’t have a program they could point you in the right direction. Good luck!

lullaby lullaby 8:10 pm 09 Jan 11

It would be in your son’s best interest to seek assistance and support from a Disability Employment Service in Canberra. There are many DES Providers in Canberra who specialises in assisting people with Aspergers Syndrom in obtaining and maintaining employment.

The link below are a list of DES providers in Canberra who may be able to assist your son

These DES providers offers a free service to job seekers and workers. To be eligible for these services your son must be registered as a job seeker with Centrelink.

What you will find with some providers is that they have a broad range of clients. If you require a provider who can provide specialise services then try Nexus Human Services in Braddon. They provide support in the workplace and also will actually go out to employers and source employment opportunities. Nexus only specialise in mental health but they do also offer support to individuals with Aspergers.

Inappropriate Inappropriate 6:39 pm 09 Jan 11

Provided his communication problems aren’t severe, he’ll fit right in doing IT in the APS. I’ve run into a few Aspies in IT in the APS.

M0les M0les 2:41 pm 09 Jan 11

First off: I’ve never worked in the videogames industry (Though I have played lots of them). I have had a couple of friends in the industry.

I’d say getting an IT support job (e.g. public service) to help in the short-mid term for income.

For getting into the games industry, the best thing to do is make a game. Do something simple, limited and finite in his spare time. Then throw it away.

Then make something more involved and give it away for free (Flash games on NewGrounds can be good).

Having established a portfolio, you can then approach developers for employment.

I know you say he’s not ready to move away, but opportunities are limited here. The challenge of moving away can be quite rewarding and a development environment is usually relatively comfortable for those with Asberger’s.

2K Marin here in Canberra seem to be after bodies (Though the I have vague memories of layoffs recently). However I think the biggest center of games development in Australia is in Brisbane. Vancouver in Canada is pretty busy too.

Hope this helps!

Deref Deref 2:13 pm 09 Jan 11

Quasi said :

the IT section of any larger government department or agency will have a percentage of people who fit somewhere on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum – maybe look out for a junior developer position, or something similar?

Indeed. Many IT sections are managed by them.

Quasi Quasi 12:31 pm 09 Jan 11

the IT section of any larger government department or agency will have a percentage of people who fit somewhere on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum – maybe look out for a junior developer position, or something similar?

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