Full Disclosure and Accommodations in the Workplace with Aspergers

Q: Should I tell my potential employer that I have Aspergers?

Oftentimes individuals that I am working with choose not to disclose their disability/ies because they feel that it will affect how others perceive them at work. While this is a legitimate concern, it is one that can be minimized with practice and self-confidence.

employment, workplace, aspergers, disclosure

I tell individuals who are thinking about disclosing their disability to really focus on their capabilities or strengths, that which they can offer an employer that stands out above what they feel they lack. It is usually in the best interest to have some solutions in your mind for the accommodations that you will need while working.

Peter Thiel: Asperger’s can be a big advantage in Silicon Valley

Peter Thiel — the PayPal founder, Facebook investor, and bestselling author — hates groupthink.

He avoids hiring MBAs, since he says they tend to be “high extrovert/low conviction people,” a combination of traits that “leads towards extremely herd-like thinking and behavior.”  Similarly, he says that “people end up behaving more lemming-like” in places like San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, where tons of tech companies are crammed into a .635 square mile area. All that socialization leads to conformity, he argues, preventing people from coming up with original, innovative ideas.

To Thiel, originality is the name of the entrepreneurial game, since it’s the quickest route to gaining a monopoly, as he says Google did with search. From that logic, he argues that a psychological condition usually thought of as a disorder — Asperger’s syndrome — provides a startup advantage.

Hard Skills with Aspergers: Teachable Abilities and Skill Sets in the Workplace

I have often been asked: What is the hardest part of your job? The majority of the time the answer is discovering what skills my clients have to offer to an employer. As an employment specialist I recognize that prospective employers are talking about hard skills.

Employees with special skills wanted - job interview candidates

So, what are hard skills?

What is the difference between Job Placement and Job Carving?

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

“Job Carving” is a term for customizing job duties and can be used in different circumstances:

* To create specialist job roles thus freeing up the time of specialist staff.

* To swap job duties to make the most of individual skills.

Many families are not aware of the possibilities available to their young adults with disabilities and how job carving can be part of job placement.

Job placement is when you fill out an application, take an assessment and hope the student will do well in the interview.  Student must often go to multiple interviews to practice and practice marketing themselves.  Just like the rest of us.

Most often we are assigned this case because the student has social anxiety, and an array of other invisible disabilities.  An employer shouldn’t ask “What’s wrong with him/her?”, though I’ve heard that question and have had to educate employers on many occasions.  Sometimes an employer asks these questions because they know no better.

As a job developer our first job is to advocate for this student.  At the risk of not being hired it is ethically a bad choice to not educate the employer regarding questions that are not appropriate.  Parents, please understand you are not alone and we are here to advocate for you as well.  We will do our best to assist you with job placement but if your family does not have a realistic entry job it will take a very long time to be placed and be successful and be happy.

Unlocking the Potential: An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin

Tickets Now on Sale!

Photo: Matt Nager Photography

It is with great enthusiasm that we will welcome Dr. Temple Grandin to San Antonio and South Texas during Autism Awareness Month, April 19th, for an insightful and encouraging evening titled: Unlocking the Potential. We can hardly wait!

Dr. Grandin will share her personal story and insights on how to prepare for a productive life of independence living with Autism. Attendees will also hear from Chief People Officer Tina James to learn how local industry giant HEB is launching an innovative program that utilizes the talents of those on the spectrum. Mr. Ron Lucey, the Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities will open the evening with a message from our state’s capitol.  Asperger101’s Unlocking the Potential will be an evening well spent for those seeking encouragement and concrete guidance for living to the highest potential with Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

We hope you enjoy!     -Aspergers101

Evening Line-Up
5:30p – 6:30p 
VIP Meet and Greet with Temple Grandin, Tina James, and Ron Lucey
Hors d’oeuvres in the mezzanine catered by Page Barteau
(VIP Tickets Only)
  • Three cheese stuffed mushrooms topped with panko breadcrumbs
  • Fresh tomato, house pulled mozzarella and basil skewers drizzled with a balsamic reduction
  • Chicken wrapped in bacon and stuffed with jalapeños
  • Beef tenderloin sliders served on a yeast roll with raspberry chipotle
Book signing beginning at 6p
Doors open for general admission & continued book signing 
7:00p – 8:45p 
Speaker Presentations:
Jennifer and Samuel Allen
Co-Founders of Aspergers101 and Driving with Autism
  • Evening Co-Hosts
Ron Lucey
Executive Director of the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities
  • Equal Access to Independence (How Texas is leading the nation in supporting citizens who have diagnoses that could cause communication impediments with a peace officer on the road)
Gail Saltz, MD (special pre-recorded video)
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute
  • Pre-recorded video: The Power of Different (Dr. Saltz will not be present but has recorded a special video for the event referring to her latest book, an illuminating and uplifting examination of the link between brain differences and aptitude)
Tina James
Chief People Officer at HEB
  • Bridges: Connecting Extraordinary People to Career Opportunities (Announcing a new program placing college graduates with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s in the IS department at HEB)
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Inventor and Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University
  • Diagnosis to Adulthood: Preparing for a Life of Independence (Dr. Grandin’s personal story and guidance in building a life of independence for those with Asperger’s)

How I Overcome Obstacles with ASD and Steps How You Can as Well

by: Maverick Crawford III

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder with a range of conditions characterized by challenges with speech communication, non-verbal communication, social skills, and repetitive behaviors. The word “spectrum” refers to a wide range of differences, challenges, and strength each person with autism has. Studies show that 1 in 88 children will develop autism, and it is the fastest growing disability nationwide. With this statistic, it is important for school officials, doctors, counselor, parents or anyone to fully understand the overall needs of children with autism. Adults with autism make up about 1.7% of the college population with an 80% incompletion rate. The main reason for these numbers is that most colleges, unfortunately, do not understand how to accommodate the needs of students on the spectrum.

Challenges facing those with Autism:

  1. Organization problems: College students on the mild end of the spectrum may tend to misunderstand social and communication cues. When it comes to a student with Autism either living independently or with family, can struggle because it more responsibilities all at once can cause an overload. The duties of managing homework, job, independent living, maintain health, meetups for group projects can all be overwhelming with trying to plan and organize it.
  1. Self-Advocacy: The main shocker for high school to college transition is that it is up to you to convey your needs. In grade school, you parent, teachers, and counselors decided and advocated your educational needs. Once the child becomes a teenager (high school age), they are allowed to sit in their IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), but they do not fully understand their accommodations. Most colleges do not require IEP’S, but they do require the students to understand and advocate for their needs.

Reading Facial Expressions is Important for Social Success

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

Learning to translate and digest the meanings of different facial expressions can help determine other people’s needs and foster true communication.

This works both ways. Individuals with Autism has trouble interpreting facials expressions and social cues and they often don’t express their own facial expressions and appropriate social cues.

Most professionals in an Autism related field understand that many individuals on the spectrum have a flat affect. My biggest challenge is educating the public, employers and employees that a person’s expressions does not mean the individual does not have feelings. I have taken many students to interviews where I had a sensitivity meeting with the employer prior and the employer still interviewed the individual and stated, “Next time show me a genuine SMILE.”. Educating employers is an ongoing challenge for an Employment Specialist. I have parents say to me. “Lacy likes ice cream …get her a job in an ice cream shop.” I then have to try to get Lacy a job in an ice cream shop where she has to demonstrate good customer service by greeting and smiling to the customer. This has nothing to do with her liking ice cream.

Do we put Lacy in the back room organizing the gallons of ice cream and have her do custodial work or after 23 years attempt to teach her and parents how important it is to learn to smile naturally? I can always tell when parents catch their child’s Autism early and have provided training to their child at a very young age. Smiles are more natural and social cues are taught early. It is a huge bonus for me and them if a child starts learning early. I have been removed from many cases due to my honesty and tact. I am always professional but very realistic. I will never say the Lacy’s in this world cannot ever provide customer service but it does take a great deal of training both at home and with an employment specialist.

A True Meaning of Inclusion at What Cost

by: Raeme Bosquez-Greer

Hi, Raeme here again.  Transitions is my specialty, my thing you might say.

In the past twenty years, I have noticed more and more students transitioning from high school to the real world of work and/or college who have very limited skills in dealing with strangers, bullies and predators.

Our students have been victimized over and over again because of the stigma surrounding them and the fact that they can be easy prey.  Predatory actions seem to have increased or at least we hear a lot more about it as the availability of news had increased dramatically over the past several years.

As a parent who has children with unique challenges I am super reliant on their case managers within the school system.  We, myself included, are spoiled in how we can just call our case manager and let her know how the weekend went, what behaviors transpired in the morning, medications etc…  And when there is an issue at school we ask them to intervene.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing but we need to empower our kids to stand on their own two feet and not completely rely on Mom and Dad or the case manager.  Professionals in the community, such as myself, need to assist these individuals in a seamless transition from school and to become self-aware, advocate for themselves and learn to communicate effectively.

Reality is that I know of two female students who were sexually assaulted at work or on the bus because they were easy prey.

Watch Us GLOW

An employment success story

Hi, Raeme here again!  I have been the Program Coordinator for a non-profit 503c program for the past seven years that assists students from high school transition to the real world of work. Each student is unique and gifted in their own way.

I recently began working with a young lady with Asperger’s named Willa.  Willa also exhibited near paralysis when feeling severe anxiety along with select mutism. Her family is extremely supportive and are extremely realistic. This innocent young woman worked for Goodwill for 4 years as a volunteer hanging clothes. After 4 years her parents wanted to try something new.

Our first meeting was very short and simple. The young girl assessed me to see if I could be trusted.  Although, she did not choose to speak her eyes spoke volumes. We invited her to a facility to visit with residents who had dementia and some who had family members who never come to visit.  The student observed different positions such as being a server in the dining room, a kitchen aide, companion care and assisting with art and game activities.  We did not pressure her to come again.

Later that week Willa informed her mother and father that she wanted to return to the home care facility.  Inch by inch and day by day Willa began to bloom. She began following her Skills Trainer less, speaking more and had less paralysing anxiety attacks. Her parents stated they have never seen their daughter so happy.

Employment: Going out of your Comfort Zone

Today I want to talk about a recent employment success story with a person with Asperger’s.

I was recently assigned to conduct an environmental work assessment with this young man.  He listed his issues as Asperger’s, obesity, back aches, leg aches and insomnia. There have been a few challenges in this man’s life.  During the initial interview his parent stated, “He can’t do anything but eat and sleep.”  She had no confidence that he could ever hold a job.

This gentleman is not a kid, he is a little older, which goes to show that the confidence we have in our kids trickles down throughout life.  This gentleman really doesn’t think he can work and was not very enthusiastic about our meeting.

I had him take a self-evaluation which he was able to complete on his own and showed that he did not have a lot of confidence in his abilities.

He said that he would really like to do data entry at a large IT company but showed that he could not type very well.  Many of our high functioning kids with autism want to do some sort of IT/Gaming work but do not really know what it entails.  This is where realistic level setting come into play about expectations and education.

I took this gentleman to three different work environments to observe social skills, problem solving, communication challenges, physical challenges and more.

He loved interacting with the cats.

I first observed him in a retail setting.  He had been let go from a large retailer a number of years ago and was not enthusiastic about this setting.  He talked about how much he disliked the management and how he was not treated well.  This environment did not go well.  He was not energetic or motivated.  There was a lot of “poor me” going on.