Empowerment: Building Success with Employees with Autism

Hosted by the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, presenters offer expert advice for solutions to common workplace challenges such as sensory, social, and thinking and processing in this previously recorded webinar. Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 offers insight into the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and provides specific suggestions for accommodations. Take this opportunity to hear more about how Vocational Rehabilitation and local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism via Texas Workforce Commission’s Jennifer Hines. Packed with a powerful punch, Jenn Byron-Ross/Director of Recruiting at grocery giant H-E-B, shares the company’s best practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer. There is so much valuable information for both the employer and the employee packed into this webinar. Be sure to look below the video for some downloadables and/or materials provided to you as a reference from the webinar!

Presenters:

Jennifer Hines with Texas Workforce Commission/Vocational Rehabilitation revels how local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism.


Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 offers insight into an employer’s basic understanding of Autism and Asperger Syndrome while discussing the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and offer specific suggestions for accommodations.


Finally, the Director of Recruiting at H-E-B, Jenn Byron Ross, shares best employer practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer.

Resources:

College with Asperger’s: 7 Benchmarks for Effective Support on Campus

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen significantly since first described in the 1940s. The Center for Disease Control estimates currently 1 in 68 children in the United States lives with an ASD diagnosis, and that 46% of those diagnosed have average to above average intelligence. A large body of literature describes the significant, life-long difficulties faced by many individuals diagnosed with ASD. The support needed for college students diagnosed with more traditional disabilities are well documented. However, information is lacking in regard to effectively supporting the college instruction of students with Asperger’s Disorder and how to support their navigation of a campus society.

College Students with Asperger’s: Academic and Campus Accommodations Necessary

Researchers explored the topic of providing effective supports to college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. Investigators convened a panel of experts to provide input on the topic, and then used a Delphi surveying method to categorize common themes identified by panel members.

The survey resulted in the creation of the Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This tool is available as a PDF file for use in your own college assessment:

Attachment: Benchmarks of Effective Supports for College Students with ASD

Research conclusions included:

1. Social Challenges, Independent Living Skills, and Cognitive Organizational Skills were mentioned as a need more often by expert panelist than was Academic Challenges. This suggests panelists agree that students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder are, generally, intellectually capable of performing in the classroom but struggle with the social and organizational aspects of the college lifestyle;

2. Resources dedicated to meeting the Social Challenges of students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder are considered integral to effective college support;

3. Traditional disability services are ineffective for supporting this student population due to: (a) its historical focus on meeting academic rather than social needs, (b) its lack of resources, and (3) its general lack of expertise regarding the disorder;

4. The panel of experts connected self-advocacy and disclosure more to academic success than to other aspects of campus life;

5. Mental health services are identified as a necessary support for college students diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder.

These services, however, were mentioned fewer times by the panelist than the need for:

  • dedicated staff with specialized knowledge to provide supports;
  • having a well-informed campus community, and
  • utilizing a well-staffed support program with expertise in the disorder. An equal number of panelists mentioned the need for having staff to teach students to identify on-campus resources and supports, which would generally include student mental health services;

6. The panel of experts revealed faculty and staff attitudes may play a role in college success for college students with Asperger’s Disorder. More panelists expressed a need, however, for increased on-campus knowledge and information about the disorder.

7. Finances and Resources were identified by the majority of panelists as barriers to academic and non-academic success alike due to the high cost of hiring personnel with expertise.

Their research was published in the peer-reviewed Southern Regional Council on Educational Administration Yearbook 2013; Ellison, Clark, Cunningham, and Hansen (2013).

by Dr. Marc Ellison

The Aspergers Driver and Keeping Focus

Driving with Autism Series

Parents often find that they must explain things in full detail and repeat the same things many times for their Aspergers children. This stems from the fact that Aspergers individuals often forget things that lie outside of their general sense of familiarity or that they spontaneously lose their focus when they fixate on a particular sight.

In addition, Aspergers individuals often take caution when dealing with matters unfamiliar or unsafe to them. They want to know all details before tackling something new, challenging, or risky. This is especially true in the case of the inexperienced Aspergers driver.

Of course, any typical vehicle has everything necessary to allow the driver to observe his surroundings by default. The real issue is that the driver often has trouble effectively using those tools across a wide variety of scenarios, such as lane-changing, crosswalks, hills, and sharp turns with limited forward visibility.

Whether the issue encompasses infrequent use or misuse, the Aspergers driver takes unnecessary risks when they fail to use the proper techniques that ensure safe travels.

There is one simple three-step solution to this issue:

  1. The driver must educate themself before taking to the streets
  2. The driver must get experience in using all features of the car to their advantage in every possible way
  3. Always know where to look in a given moment when driving; use all mirrors frequently and know when to use each of them the most

Learn more about AS101’s “Driving with Autism” here!

Please consider donating to help support this initiative.

Or buy your own “Driving with Autism” car decals and magnets!

DONATE TODAY

drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

“Driving with Autism” is an AspDriving with Autism logoergers101 series that educates and empowers the driver diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspergers101 has teamed up with the Texas DPS in training Texas State Troopers about the uniqueness of Autism and understanding the Autistic driver. This partnership is garnering encouraging results.

Article by Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge is a Production Technician with Fairville Products, who is passionate about working in the sciences (biology) and wishes to take his work experiences further into the fields of Educational Neuroscience; Science Fiction; Freelance Writing; Disability Advocacy; Public Speaking; Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Aspergers101 is proud to offer the insights and perceptions of the talented Mr. Eskridge, who is obviously living life on the spectrum to it’s fullest!

You may contact Reese at: reeseesk@udel.edu

Maximize Potential in the Workplace

My job is to bring people together—to create an environment where the employee can maximize their potential and an employer can utilize that potential.

Female Supervisor Using Digital Tablet At Warehouse

As an employment specialist for Compass Resource Group one of my first steps in trying to uncover their potential is to assess the soft and hard skills of the individual. In my experience this seems to be the greatest barrier individuals with Asperger’s face. In the next few entries I plan to discuss the difference between hard and soft skills as they apply to both the search for and maintenance of employment.

What are soft skills? The Oxford Dictionary defines soft skills as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.

With regards to soft skills, the greatest questions from job seekers and employers are:

  • How do I encourage friendly interactions between coworkers and supervisors
  • How do I create and maintain a comfortable and safe work environment
  • How do I address the unique logistical concerns of employment such as changing schedules and arranging transportation as they affect individuals with Asperger’s

In the next post I will discuss the different strategies we at Compass Resource employ to foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding between the employee, their coworkers and supervisors in the workplace.

By Maggie Cromeens

8 Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder In Women That Are Often Missed

By SUZANNAH WEISS /as published on Bustle

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is frequently misunderstood, and that’s especially true in the case of women. The stereotypical person many people think of on the autism spectrum may be a Rain Man character who is male, anti-social, and gifted with numbers, but the population is actually very diverse. Many women with autism go their whole lives believing something is wrong with them because people have misunderstood their traits.

While autism has traditionally been pathologized (and continues to be in misguided warnings about vaccines causing autism), many people on the autism spectrum consider it a positive or neutral personality trait. However, much stigma around autism remains, which may be particularly intense for women, since their traits can conflict with society’s “ideal” feminine behavior.

In addition, autism is less likely to be identified in women because they don’t always match the stereotype and often work hard to conceal their traits. “‘She can’t have ASD because she makes eye contact, she has a friend, she is caring’… there are many gender stereotypes that lead women with ASD to not be diagnosed or misdiagnosed,” Tasha Oswald, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and founder and director of Open Doors Therapy, tells Bustle.

“Girls often present with milder forms of social troubles than their male peers, due to teachers’ biases and assessments that the girls are more socially adept than boys,” Christine Scott-Hudson, MA MFT ATR, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. “Girls in general are also socialized not to disappoint or offend their teachers or peers, and so girls on the autism spectrum may intentionally keep behaviors, responses, and feelings to themselves in order to remain pleasing.”

Here are some signs of autism that may be particularly applicable to women, but can be missed, according to experts.

Note: The signs below refer to just one form of autism — what was previously called “Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s”. Transition to adulthood specialist Cady Stanton, M.S. says that even though the term “Asperger’s” no longer exists, it’s a term many people are familiar with. According to Autism Speaks, it now falls under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), as of 2013. Typical to strong verbal language skills and intellectual ability differentiate it from other forms of autism.

1. Difficulty With Social Situations

“Just like males with ASD, women with ASD struggle socially, but like a double-edged sword, that struggle is both worsened and helped by the higher societal expectations placed on women to be socially aware and adhere to etiquette,” says Oswald. In other words, it’s not that women have different social symptoms than men; they just may be more likely to mask them.

“Difficulty catching on to others’ intentions, reading social cues, and understanding the unwritten rules of our society are core social challenges present in those with ASD,” Oswald says.

2. Being a Target of Bullies

Many girls are the target of bullies in school, but this may be particularly harsh for those on the autism spectrum.

4 Tips for Drivers with Aspergers to Get Comfortable Before They Hit the Road

Driving with Autism Series

Drivers with Aspergers like to have every detail in place in accordance with their personal preferences. They want to precisely change things like the climate control and the radio. These changes allow for comfort and, therefore, enjoyment while driving.

However, one thing to note is that the drivers may have trouble changing these things while they drive. The best thing to do is to make adjustments before the car rolls.

Here is a brief list of suggestions for the Aspergers driver to feel comfortable in their vehicle in order for them to focus only on the road while driving:

  1. Take any items out of pockets and find places for them in the car so that they are secure, but safely out of the driver’s way;
  2. Always wear a seatbelt, no matter what! Make sure that the driver adjusts the strap so that it is not painful or itchy;
  3. Purchase a solar shield that specifically fits the car and use the air conditioning during the hot days. Anybody, especially an Aspergers driver who has sensory hypersensitivity, could not bear to sit in a car with an excessively hot interior. During the warmer weather, use a solar shield and crank up the air conditioning to eliminate stifling heat; then drive when the inside cools down. The opposites apply to cold weather.
  4. Study the car and determine where all of the switches and buttons are so that the driver can quickly adjust while driving. It always helps to know where to find all of the specific gizmos in a car so that the driver can push the buttons without looking at them for more than a split second. Further, such features on the dashboard particularly intrigue Aspergers drivers, considering that they always feel compelled to know EVERY detail about their vehicle. Simply allow the driver to examine the car’s interior and to experiment with all of the various gizmos.

These constitute four of many things that certainly ensure driver comfort. The note to drivers is to identify what offers comfort and what does not and to always feel comfortable behind the wheel.

Learn more about AS101’s “Driving with Autism” here!

Please consider donating to help support this initiative.

DONATE TODAY

drivig-with-autism-decal-with-texas-2

“Driving with Autism” is an AspDriving with Autism logoergers101 series that educates and empowers the driver diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspergers101 has teamed up with the Texas DPS in training Texas State Troopers about the uniqueness of Autism and understanding the Autistic driver. This partnership is garnering encouraging results.

Article by Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge

Reese Eskridge is a Production Technician with Fairville Products, who is passionate about working in the sciences (biology) and wishes to take his work experiences further into the fields of Educational Neuroscience; Science Fiction; Freelance Writing; Disability Advocacy; Public Speaking; Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Aspergers101 is proud to offer the insights and perceptions of the talented Mr. Eskridge, who is obviously living life on the spectrum to it’s fullest!

You may contact Reese at: reeseesk@udel.edu

Acting and Aspergers

Therapy and a Livelihood for Some on the Spectrum

Is acting your thing? Many diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome have taken to the stage or screen as their profession or hobby. Take Dan Aykroyd and Darryl Hannah or even Sir Anthony Hopkins who all have disclosed the Asperger diagnosis.

Therapists have often used acting out parts in a play for effective social skills building exercises. An example is given by author Cindy Schneider who is a pioneer in the field of drama therapy for people with autism. In her book, Acting Antics: A Theatrical Approach to Teaching Social Understanding to Kids and Teens with Asperger Syndrome, she states the following traits gained by acting:

  1. self-confidence not only in performing but in interactions
  2. improved self-esteem; pride in their accomplishments
  3. improved recognition of emotions in others
  4. improved identification and labeling of own emotions
  5. new leisure time activity in a group where they can be successful
  6. new awareness of volume levels and beginning modulation of level
  7. new skills for functioning as part of a group
  8. new skills for following directions
  9. improved ability to interact with peers
  10. increased self-confidence through success

It’s not easy to find a drama therapist specializing in autism since the field is so new. However, Nichelle Rodriguez the owner of Cast and Crew Universe, has come up with a camp designed for therapy and success.
Nichelle says, “One of our Aspie actors just earned a co-star role on a Netflix series and the mother will be a main speaker this summer.”

Nicole’s special offer to Aspergers101 readers:
“Your readers just need to mention Aspergers 101 for one complimentary Parent Conference pass.”!


Here is more:

AN INVITATION TO HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA….

Empowerment: Building Success for Employees Diagnosed with Autism

Are you an employer looking to better your practice of hiring persons diagnosed with autism? Or perhaps you are looking for employment yourself but have had difficulty getting past the interview process. We wanted to offer you a powerful resource from a recent webinar titled: Empowerment: Building Success for Employees Diagnosed with Autism. Presenters offer expert advice on common workplace challenges such as sensory, social, and thinking and processing then provide suggested accommodations to maximize performance. Simply hiring those with autism isn’t a win for either party, but looking beyond personality alone and hiring the talent of the person with autism is where companies like H-E-B have discovered the win-win scenario.


(Recorded April 29, 2019) Webinar hosted by Randi Turner/Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. Total Runtime: 1:13:00

Presenters:

Jennifer Hines with Texas Workforce Commission/Vocational Rehabilitation revels how local workforce boards, public universities, and private employers have discovered how to successfully balance the needs of the business’ bottom line with the employment goals of people with Autism.

Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 offers insight into an employer’s basic understanding of Autism and Asperger Syndrome while discussing the most common workplace challenges experienced by people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and offer specific suggestions for accommodations.

Finally, the Director of Recruiting at H-E-B, Jenn Byron Ross, shares best employer practices and how they are attracting talented people on the Autism spectrum for jobs across the organization—from bagger to software developer.

Aspergers101 would like to offer you the following downloadables for continued information on employing those with Autism or those seeking employment by Dr Temple Grandin.


Download

Aspergers101 Training Brochure for Employers


Download

The :30 WOW! Dr. Grandin’s Interview Tips for those with Asperger Syndrome (pdf)


If you would like a copy of training materials contact the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities at 512-463-5739 or email gcpd@gov.texas.gov

Understanding and Managing Sensory Issues While Driving

Driving with Autism

Every inexperienced driver can get nervous when they first begin to drive. In the case of Aspergers drivers, those nerves jangle even more, as they take in a lot more stimuli in the driver’s seat. Tension arises due to many, and frequently simultaneous, stimuli input.

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These include general anxiety, excessive sunlight, car and traffic noises (i.e. horns honking), bumps, high speed, and excessively high and low temperatures in the car. Any one of these stimuli potentially triggers meltdowns and panic attacks; not ideal when behind the wheel. Fortunately, there are methods to manage and control such stimuli to make them pleasant, instead of unpleasant.

First, allow the Aspergers individual to practice driving while paying attention to the stimuli that s/he finds most unpleasant and pleasant. Then, make a plan to control it all.

Temperature and Light

With regard to stimulus management, simple adjustments often provide the necessary resolutions. For example, climate control adjusts temperature, while sun visors and sunglasses can protect against excessive sunlight and glare.

In the case of night driving, excess light comes in the form of headlights of oncoming vehicles. Looking away and using the road lines helps, as long as the driver pays attention to traffic, signs, and lights as well.

Seatbelt