The eleventh chapter of Aspergers on the Job is titled “A Little R&R Goes a Long Way: Ritual and Routine”. 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: When we first meet many of our clients they are resistant to change. They have a certain routine and this helps to control the anxiety that they feel dealing with the world on a day to day basis. I thought this chapter did a nice job illustrating the point that being able to be more flexible with routine is a very important work skill. However, I’m not sure how helpful the tips were to those with Asperger’s in dealing with these issues at work. The suggestion in this Chapter I liked the best was given to employers in that if you are going to make significant changes, don’t just throw something out of left field to those with Asperger’s. Work up to it, and give them a little time to assimilate the new concept before the change actually has to occur.
Stephanie: I think that suggestion you referenced from the book about accepting change is also a good one. Since there weren’t too many that you liked, what suggestions do you have yourself? I think with change its all about the pace at which it happens. Sometimes just due to circumstances and life, things change really quickly and you can’t help it. However, those changes can be very stressful. which is why the more you can do to control the pace at which is happens, the better- along with providing any needed support at each step. I also think communication about those changes is very important and the communication needs to be done in an appropriate manner. Simone mentioned one personal experience at work where she didn’t like the new system being brought into work and didn’t think it would be successful. Even though she was correct in her assumptions, the way that she communicated that with her boss wasn’t done in a good way and it hurt her relationship with them.
Doug: I would say something that you suggested is really important to help with change and that is communication. I would say another important way to deal with change is repetition. This isn’t work related, but I had something come up with a client just this week. When it rains he will wear a raincoat, but refuses to take the advice of his parents and use an umbrella no matter how much it is raining. This information randomly came up in conversation with my client and his parents in a session. Therefore, we communicated that he doesn’t like anything new(not a surprise to any of us in attendance) and does best with skills he can practice every day. We concluded using an umbrella wouldn’t be a skill you practice every day because you never know when it will rain. Therefore, I grabbed an umbrella and we went outside, opened it up and walked around. The skill was introduced and now we will work on it until it is mastered.
Stephanie: Another thing that I think affects change is how we deal with it. Changes at work often cause individuals to be stressed. In addition to communicating about that change, we need to find strategies to deal with the stress. For example, if things get busy at work and there is more pressure on the client they may want to avoid the task. I know of one individual who does this by taking short bathroom/water breaks. While this is ok every once in a while during a shift, it’s will quickly become a problem if this is abused and used as an escape. Instead we need to come up with other strategies to more appropriately deal with the stress brought on by these new changes.