The ninth chapter of Aspergers on the Job is titled “Trust Me, I have Asperger’s”. 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.
Doug: There were a couple of items in this chapter that were very interesting. However, the one I found most fascinating is the discussion of sleep apnea that is rarely discussed, but affects many greatly on the spectrum. I have a client who can’t hold down a job because he has trouble falling asleep and there are some nights he doesn’t fall asleep at all. Therefore, he will end up sleeping a couple days during the week. This obviously is a major problem for his employment prospects. This is extremely frustrating because his IQ borderlines on genius. He is an individual that if given flexible work hours, his talents could greatly benefit an employer.
Stephanie: I too have encountered individuals that I work with who also are affected by sleep apnea and agree that it isn’t discussed much. Just today I was talking to an individual who has it and says it is often exasperated by stress which creates a bad cycle of being stressed initially, not being able to sleep at night because she is thinking about her stress related to work, then going to work the next day exhausted which could affect her performance causing more stress, and so on. One of the sleep aids mentioned in the book that may help with this issue is melatonin which many of my clients have taken in the past and said it tends to help them.
Another idea mentioned in the book is all the accommodations individuals may need on the job including having clear cut instructions, specific feedback, enough time to review the feedback and learn new things, the need for flexibility with deadlines, sensory breaks/down time, and so on. How many people do you think mention these needs to their bosses and how many of those needs are met? Everyone in general (people with and without autism) have diverse learning styles and ways of working. Unfortunately with many jobs in this world, we have to try to fit the mold or standard that is set up by the company versus the other way around.
Doug: It is a great question you posed about how many people mention their needs to their bosses. I don’t know if I could put a percentage to it, but I would imagine most don’t. Then we have the ones that do ask and I think at times supervisors aren’t sure how to accommodate their needs. That is why I think it so important for our clients to have us to help advocate for them and to help explain to their supervisors how these accommodations can realistically happen in their work environment.
A very interesting question at the end of this chapter asked why does scrutiny make you uncomfortable?
Stephanie: I agree it is important for us to help our clients advocate for themselves. However, I’m not sure if the solution of having us help explain to their supervisors how these accommodations can realistically happen in their workplace would always work. What I have found is that many of my clients want as much independence as possible and want to do things for themselves, which is great. So they may not feel comfortable with us stepping in at their place of employment to help them advocate. If this is indeed the case, then maybe with these clients we can practice what they are going to say ahead of time, write down important thoughts, and role play various situations to help make them more comfortable and successful.
In terms of scrutiny, I think that’s a difficult area for many. It means that people are observing you, giving you feedback, and many times, asking you to change your behavior. Many people have a hard time with feedback and will only focus on the negative feedback, not positive. In addition, some are very set in their routines/ways so having to make changes based upon that feedback or scrutiny is very challenging.
Doug: It is ironic that we are discussing scrutiny as this topic just popped up the other day with a meeting we were having with him and his mom. He has had a difficult time accepting the feedback. Why do you think that is?
Stephanie: Maybe its due to past experiences with receiving that type of feedback. I know in our meetings we try to give feedback in a constructive, positive way but maybe in the past it hasn’t always been delivered that way and caused negative experiences and thoughts. This in turn could cause the client to be uncomfortable no matter how the feedback is given in meetings.