Difficulties & Challenges in Finding Employment for Adults with Asperger Syndrome
For adults with Asperger Syndrome it’s hard for you to find employment and keep a job, and . . . You often feel like ... • You are from another planet • You don’t know the rules • You are misunderstood • Your strengths and abilitiesare over looked
Mork • Like Mork, a Neurodivergent adult has many challenges in finding and keeping employment. • His reports to intergalactic counselor, Orson, reveal that Mork is…. • Seldom understood • Not accepted for his eccentricity • Frequently alienated in the workplace • Excluded from the world around him
Mork came to Earth from Ork “Coming from Ork I just feel like I am from another planet and understanding people is just a constant challenge.”
Neurodivergent means ‘thinking and acting differently’ Atypical neurological development is a normal human difference that is to be recognized and respected as any other human variation • “Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?” Harvey Blume, Neurodiversity, New York Times,September 30, 1998
Adults with Asperger Syndrome ... look like ordinary people,However their inability to understand the visual queues, body language and unwritten rules of social interaction makes employability difficult
“Help Wanted” Services What is available What is required • Employment Agencies don’t support people with Asperger Syndrome • Disability Employment Agencies provide generic support for a person with a disability • Asperger Syndrome is a stand alone disability • Disability Employment Agencies don’t offer the necessary specialised support for adults on the Autistic Spectrum
Challenges to finding employment? People with Asperger Syndrome are at a serious disadvantage in a job interview, because: • Very few employment agencies provide interview support • They are judged according to their social skills • They are not able to read body language and understand important visual cues • Anxiety (see all the above) I would like a chance but I feel nervous at job interview as I don’t know what I am supposed to know and say, read body language and whether I will be given a chance to demonstrate my skills, abilities and feel judged at face value!
Hurdles for Adults with Asperger Syndrome at work • A person may focus too much on individual details and respond better to routine. This makes it difficult to adapt to change, accomplish multi tasking duties and perceive the host organisation’s organisations big picture • Without efficacious communication and support strategies, a person can lose a sense of direction and become confused by hierarchical structure Will I be able to get over this difficult hurdle !?!
For Adults within employment it is difficult to obtain career development • Lacking social skills they can be placed into routine, base grade, positions • Opportunity to demonstrate and develop their more valuable skills is rarely presented • Most adults are overlooked for promotion • Limited on the job support I put the effort in but I never seem to get anywhere.
Thinking and acting differently Just thinking and acting differently makes it hard for an adult with Asperger Syndrome to find tolerance and support within a work environment
Everyday stumbling blocks at work • An adult with Asperger Syndrome may appear as odd or different and feel alienated from other employees, and co-workers around them • An adult with Asperger Syndrome may not know what clothes are appropriate for certain jobs • The following link highlights employment issues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pj9_WKbbZwA
Bullying and Exploitation • Bullying and exploitation is a serious a problem during the lifetime of a person with Asperger Syndrome • Most adults with Asperger Syndrome have suffered low self esteem as a result of bullying and/or exploitation • In the workplace, deliberate bullying, and thoughtless separatist behaviour can seriously raise anxiety levels and affect job performance • Sadly dismissal or resignation is common in workplaces where separatist behaviours remain unchecked
Remember... ...although a persons self esteem and outcomes will improve given suitable work... A person with Asperger Syndrome can feel anxious, have difficulty with multi tasking and demonstrating their strengths and abilities
Communication Support Once a person with Asperger Syndrome has been employed an Employment Consultant should build and maintain a working relationship between the person with Asperger Syndrome, the Manager & Supervisors, and themselves
The key is knowing to tell and how to sell! Communication support is ongoing. First established prior to start date and progressed throughout work life Strong communication needs to exist between, the employee with Asperger Syndrome, the Manager and the Employment Consultant
Employment Consultants needed to liaise with and tell Person with Asperger Syndrome Management • Responsibility in the workplace • Tea breaks, lunch room and start and finish times • Important procedures within employment • Whom to see should there be any issues or concerns • The persons strengths and weaknesses • Information and education mediums other staff members require to facilitate positive outcomes • Critical points to communicate are • Persons awareness • Persons requirements
Roles of Managers and Supervisors within Employment Other staff Employee with Asperger Syndrome and Consultant • Establish clear liaison guidelines between all three parties • Indicate that a person with Asperger Syndrome needs clear direction within workplace • Ensure any concerns among employees are clarified • Should there be any issues within the work environment i.e. person with Asperger Syndrome not being understood by other co-workers or staff members. • Establish clear liaison guidelines between all three parties • Ensure any issues regarding the person with Asperger Syndrome are addressed, and where necessary and possible, rectified. • Discuss ways of improving performance and opportunities of staff development and workplace performance if necessary
Garry Burge Service Support Assistant University of Queensland Social Sciences Library University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane Comepass Success Garry, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, was well suited to take on a shelving role with his high functioning ability and natural affinity with numbers - and UQ Library was pleased to have him. Welcome to the Library, Garry! ISSUE 656, 22/12/2010 , p5 Pictured (from left) Back row: Martin Rhodes, Garry Burge, Joanne Rutherford, Chris Burke, Front row: Nicola Bertoli, Margaret Wilhelm, Eva Lewandowski and Comepass Consultant, Tri Pham Full article http://www.library.uq.edu.au/links/links656.pdf#page=5
Just give me a chance to think and utilize my knowledge and intelligence Remarkable Minds Just Waiting for Work Extraordinary memory … but the only work James Russell, who has high-functioning autism, can find is filling envelopes and lugging boxes. The Sydney Morning Herald March 20th 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDoWfnAdDeU Employment issues http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=4FwKBLotQRc&feature=related
About Specialist People Foundation Specialist People Foundation want to create a new paradigm in which Specialist People will get a new opportunity to realise their potential as active contributors in the labour market and in society in general. Visit at http://specialisterne.com/
On Reflection some important things to consider • Adults with Asperger Syndrome make good employees; they are diligent, conscientious, reliable and pay attention to detail. So should they really be unemployed? • Applicants should inform potential employers about their Asperger Syndrome, to increase awareness and prevent discrimination (see Disability Discrimination Act). • Should the government improve services and funding to allow for more support in terms of Disability Employment Agencies and Employment Consultants? • In terms of employment opportunities, should society be nurturing adults with Asperger Syndrome, rather than leaving them behind? • Should adults with Asperger Syndrome who want to work have the opportunity to have a go!? • Mork and Mindy excerpt illustrating how not being aware of, or misreading, social conventions, leads to things going wronghttp://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=KclJrJYtyVo&feature=related
How to contact Garry Burge • Garry Burge’s blog on Dr Tony Attwood’s website • http://garrysaspieblog.blogspot.com/ • Dr Tony Attwood’s website • http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/ • Garry Burge’s You Tube Channel • http://www.youtube.com/user/Aspie37 • Email: Garry Burge, Staff Representative of University of Queensland Disability Sub Committee, Social Sciences Library • email@example.com • Chris Mitchell United Kingdom – Asperger Syndrome Employment Advocacy • http://www.chrismitchell.org.uk/ “Greetings from planet Ork”