The second chapter of Aspergers on the Job is titled “The Importance of Belief”. Here are thoughts on Rudy Simone and discussion about this chapter. Stephanie is one of the fantastic APC Coaches and Doug is the founder of APC.
Stephanie: I thought Ruby Simone raised many important points in this chapter. First and foremost, the diagnosis and treatment of Asperger’s has come a long way since it was first included in the DSM-IV in 1994. Like the diagnosis, many individuals with AS have also come a long way and need to be recognized for their growth and accomplishments. People who tell them “it doesn’t seem like you have AS” don’t realize the effort it takes daily and what a journey it was to reach that moment. I know one person who tells me that its exhausting to have to give it your all at work. They are constantly having to work extremely hard to communicate with their co-workers, complete a task, manage their time, etc. When this individual ends their workday, it is that much harder to keep it together and achieve their goals at home due to the lack of energy they have.
I also found the facts about diagnosis that Simone included at the end of the chapter to be interesting, particularly the one that stated that diagnosis is difficult for adults. This is due to their maturity and skills they have developed, in addition to the fact that part of the diagnosis involves the doctor interviewing that individual’s relatives who may not recall details about that person’s life from decades earlier. But no matter how difficult it is, Simone repeats the importance of getting a proper diagnosis from an educated doctor that you trust.
Doug: Yes, diagnosis is so tricky for adults. First, for the reason you stated. Not only that, but there is so much co-morbidity in terms of symptoms of ASD. If someone is depressed they could be diagnosed with some type of depression disorder. While that may be true, ASD could be the more appropriate diagnosis because there are many more symptoms other than depression. Last year I went to a talk on proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM). A shocking fact to me was how few clinicians there are in our country who have extensive knowledge about ASD. I knew from talking to our clients that misdiagnosis was prevalent, but this talk made me better understand why this occurs. We really must to do a better job of educating our clinicians so we can diagnosis individuals earlier in their life and get them the help they truly need.
Stephanie: Simone’s question at the end of the chapter is one that I would encourage our readers to think about themselves and I think its important to include all of her relevant questions in our blog to get our viewers to think: Describe what Asperger’s means to you- what it is and how you feel about it. Are your thoughts about it primarily negative or do you see the gifts?
Doug: I agree, the questions at the end of each chapter are another highlight for me. It is interesting because just yesterday I was having a conversation with a client and we were discussing Autism awareness for adults. She was saying how most of the time people see the deficits and not the gifts for those on the spectrum. That is definitely an important reason at to why we have our Adult Autism Panel’s. It is to show the community that yes there are challenges and we can definitely work to improve upon these, but there are also wonderful gifts that adults on the spectrum have. We can in many cases use these strengths to help compensate for the weaknesses for those with Asperger’s.
Stephanie: Exactly. And what other ways can we showcase those talents besides just the panel to reach as many people and audiences as possible?
Doug: It is a great question and one that we are constantly exploring. One way to do that is brick by brick so to speak. We need to continue to work with our clients to showcase their talents in their place of work and in the community. However, its not just working with our clients in his or her workplace. It is about working with their co-workers and supervisors to help them to understand how the strengths of our clients can be maximized.
Stephanie: Definitely. I wish there was a different way to show potential employers and co-workers all that our clients have to offer besides a traditional interview. I know we mentioned this before, but interviews can be tough, especially those that struggle with communication and social skills. If we could come up with a creative way to showcase their talents then I think it would be beneficial. I think having our clients create a portfolio of their work could be wonderful. The portfolio would contain work samples, letters of recommendation, a list of their accommodations (if applicable and if they want to disclose their disability), maybe some info about their diagnosis if they are comfortable sharing and educating others, etc. That way they can share their talents in the best way possible.