The tenth chapter of Aspergers on the Job is titled “Polyester Prisons, Neck-Tie Nooses, and High Heeled Hell”. 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: This chapter focused on dressing appropriately for the workplace. I felt this chapter could have went much more in depth as it’s more than just wearing the appropriate attire. For example, i’ve known a couple of our clients to wear the appropriate attire was to wear to work, but maybe a shirt wasn’t tucked in or the clothing was wrinkled. Another factor then just wearing clothes is personal hygiene which I think may be just as important issue effecting our clients employment.
Stephanie: Yes, dressing appropriately for work goes much beyond just finding the right outfit to wear and I have seen a lot of the same problems that you mentioned above. For example, I work with a client who will wear the same jacket/shirt to work for multiple days. Since this client works outside with animals they figure “why wear a new clean shirt if its just going to get dirty/stinky anyways?” In addition, the clothes this person wears are very comfortable for them and they are attracted to those clothes because of their color as well. While what this client is saying makes sense in theory, they still need to learn the importance of changing their work clothes each day.
I learned a few things from Simone in this chapter too about skin sensitivities. She mentioned that some people may have this problem because A) autism starts with a compromised digestive system B) people with autism often develop food allergies which can affect the skin C) Stress can also affect skin sensitivity and D) Sensory processing difficulties are a part of autism and touch is a part of that as well. However, even I’ve run into this problem before where I don’t realize I’m not going to like the way a shirt feels/fits until I’ve worn it at home for a longer length of time than just trying it on at the store. How do people overcome that challenge of finding the right clothes that won’t bother them?
Doug: I think finding the right clothes starts with self awareness. How many individuals are aware that certain materials irritate them and others bring them comfort? I know for myself that the most comfortable shirts I wear are ones I change into after I get home from work each day. They are usually softer and have a looser fit. If that is the case with others maybe they can explain this skin sensitivity to the supervisor and see if they can wear this to work? That may not be a possibility, so then look to find clothes that most closely resemble ones that you are most comfortable wearing. In addition, it might be a skill that needs to worked on “wearing appropriate work clothing”. Someone on the spectrum may not wear these type of clothes that are appropriate for work very often. I would say wearing the clothes that you would wear to work more often to get practice feeling more comfortable would be something I would suggest. Practice makes better.
The question at the chapter Simone posed was what image do you want to convey when you go to work. This is an interesting question because it can be challenging for those with Asperger’s to think what others may think of them.