During the next few months we are going to be reading a book by Rudy Simone titled “Asperger’s on the Job.” We will review the book chapter by chapter and discuss how the book relates to APC and our clients. This book is advice for people with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism and their employers, educators, and advocates.
The book will be reviewed by Stephanie Carroll and Doug Blecher. Stephanie is one of the fantastic APC Coaches and Doug is the founder of APC.
The first chapter of “Asperger’s on the Job” asks the question why would you employ someone with AS?
Doug: I liked how this book started off by listing nine qualities that make people with Aspergers good employees. The first quality that was mentioned was focus and diligence. I find this to be very true of our clients when they are motivated by the subject or task. However, when the motivation isn’t quite high enough then that focus declines. In addition, I’ve seen clients lose focus when their sensory needs aren’t met in the workplace. This may be because of too much noise or the lighting is just too bright for them and causes a lack of focus. Therefore, it needs to be able to be assessed rather quickly when the motivation is in decline or the sensory needs aren’t met and develop strategies to help with these areas. When the correct strategies are in place you will probably get an employee with Aspergers excellent focus and diligence.
Stephanie: I really liked this chapter and how she included the many positive things that people with Asperger’s can bring to the workplace. These 9 qualities are very important. I feel like many of our clients exhibit these qualities and if they feel comfortable disclosing their disability, then maybe they can use this outline as a guide on what to put on their cover letter to show their future employers all the benefits they will be getting by hiring them. I think your thoughts on attribute number 1 are very well said. The important thing then is for the individual to be aware of their sensory needs or other needs and advocate for themselves so it doesn’t get them into trouble when they lose focus or need to take breaks due to these issues arising.
As I was reading this, I was drawn to #5- Higher fluid intelligence. I heard this come up when talking to a client about an issue at work. She said all the other workers were stumped with this one coding issue but she was able to look at it differently and solve the problem. I think many of our clients have this ability as well. The important thing is to encourage them to share their different viewpoints and use good communication skills while doing so. After my client solved this problem she felt really good about herself. The only negative that came out of the situation was that she felt she should have been given more feedback and acknowledgement than what she was given. This is another example of needing to communicate your needs to your employers.
Doug: Yes, I feel we could write a book on the one topic of our clients and their need to communicate with their co-workers, supervisor, or employer. I always say its not easy to get a job, but thats the easy part when you compare it to maintaining a job. Communication is such a vital component of that maintenance.
I think #3, a desire to please is a quality the masses don’t realize Aspies possess. We have a client in his 50’s who is an engineer. His employer on a weekly basis asks him to work overtime and he does so every week and I’m not sure if he has ever denied the request. Many times he doesn’t want to work overtime and would just like to go home (can you blame him?). When I ask him why he doesn’t deny the request he states that while he feels the need to go home, the need to make his supervisor happy is greater. We are working with him to identify the priorities in his life. He has identified work is third on that list. God and family is more important to him and that he wants to spend more time at church and be around his wife and children more often. That is where awareness and communication come into play. The awareness is understanding that saying “No” to overtime sometimes doesn’t make you a bad employee. The communication is discussing with your supervisor that you won’t be able to work overtime every week, but maybe every other week.
Stephanie: Very good point. I’ve seen similar things with my client. She often says that pleasing others is more important that doing something for herself. Then that leads into a greater issue which is recognizing when you are being taken advantage of which sadly has happened to her a few times, along with our other clients as well. I like your list idea though of identifying the most important things in your life and ranking them. If work is 3rd on the list then hopefully your client will recognize the need to say no. However, this may be a broader context issue because what if the boss has an emergency and needs the client to stay late vs. just asking him to stay later to get more done. It’s important to recognize when its okay to stay late and when its just getting to be too much and its appropriate to say no.
Doug: Yes, context is a huge issue across the board for our clients. What may constitute an emergency in our mind may be completely different to one of our clients and vice versa.