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.

How Do People Diagnosed With Autism Get Hired?

What kind of agencies are out there to connect me, and my child’s skills, to a potential employer?

My name is Raeme Bosquez-Greer.  I have been an Employment Specialist for the most challenging students for over 20 years. Challenging in my vocabulary means that they are harder to place in a competitive employment setting.

All states have agencies similar to Texas Workforce, a department of rehabilitation and AACOG, which I’ll refer to as “The Agencies” for the remainder of this blog.  These are the main agencies the parents of a 15+ year old student can go to for their first steps in seeking training, job developing and employment.  This umbrella of agencies contracts third party providers to complete services.  These providers, like myself, specialize in a variety of disabilities including  Autism and Neurodevelopmental challenges.  We are paid commission for the services that we provide.

The Agencies mentioned above will educate you regarding all the services they offer either themselves or through the 3rd party providers. They will give you a list of providers to select from. You call the providers on the list and interview them with questions specific to your son or daughters needs and you select the provider that you want to work with.

The agency will give you example questions but you can also ask your own based on what best fits your child.

Example questions you might want to focus on are:

  1. How long have you worked in the field of vocational rehabilitation?
  2. What is your success rate with students with Autism or related challenges?
  3. What are your credentials?
  4. Describe your most challenging case and did you have a positive outcome?
  5. What are the most common barriers to overcome for my son or daughter to become successfully employed?

For the state agencies, a student can begin the paperwork process as early as 15 years old. A vocational representative is required to be at the high school a minimum of once a week.  I recommend you contact your child’s case manager frequently and ask to make an appointment with their appointed vocational representative.  Start services early so that your child has time to learn the skills that they need and overcome any barriers by the time they graduate.

An example of my own daughter receiving services.

Challenged with Social Skills? Preparing Youth for Employment.

by Raeme Bosquez-Greer

In my 20 plus years of experience I have found that every student is different and every employer is different. This question cannot be answered in one broad answer, we are all very different. In this blog entry, I will give an example of what has worked in my position as an Autism Specialist, Job Developer and Advocate.

Example:

Billy is 16 years old and has been in a secluded classroom for 12 years. In this self-contained classroom, he is very quiet and does not feel he is like anyone else.  In the cafeteria or during breaks he is made fun of and bullied due to his awkward gait, thick glasses and because he tends to keep his head down. He has very little self-esteem or self – confidence. He does not share this with anyone because he does not want to bring any undue attention to himself.  Both of his parents work 40 hours a week and allow their son to come home and play video games in his room every evening. He is also allowed to eat his meals in his room each night.

Now Billy is 18. His parents would like for him to move out, get his own apartment and get a JOB.

Parents must understand that no matter how intelligent your son or daughter is if he or she does not get exposure and experience at an early age the barriers to the real world of work will take longer to overcome.

Now that Billy is 18 they are searching for resources, making phone calls and calling everyone in the Special Education department for assistance in meeting these goals.

Temple Grandin Explains: Choosing the Right Job for People with ASD

Jobs need to be chosen that make use of the strengths of people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Both high and low functioning people have very poor short-term working memory, but they often have a better long-term memory than most neurotypicals. I have great difficulty with tasks that put high demands on short-term working memory. I cannot handle multiple tasks at the same time.

employment, jobs

 

Table 1 is a list of BAD jobs that I would have great difficulty doing.

Table 2 is a list of easy jobs for a visual thinker like me.

I have difficulty doing abstract math such as algebra and most of the jobs on Table 2 do not require complex math. Many of the visual thinking jobs would also be good for people with dyslexia.

Aspergers Individuals Can Become Great Leaders, Despite Their Challenges. Part 2: Overcoming Challenges

How to overcome personal challenges

This is Part 2 of a two-part article by Reese Eskridge on the topic of building leadership skills. You can read Part 1 here. Reese compiled the following list of personal challenges that often plague those with Autism or Aspergers. Each piece of common self-doubt listed below is accompanied with Reese’s own personal encouragement and guidance for how to overcome!

Team leader

  • I am not competent enough about role(s)/inexperienced in creating and running events or activities: Be yourself and start with what you know you can do, create something to promote it and to enable others to use it; identify an issue or interesting concept and think about a purpose that will serve the greater good; Take opportunities and think about how you can excel in each role you play.
  • I do not understand what message(s) to convey… Ask yourself many questions and try to answer as many potential questions as possible (i.e. what would they like to know about…? How would they react if…?).
  • I have a problem with perfectionism and fear of failure… If you have challenges, thoroughly examine the challenge and work around it to achieve your purpose as the leader; what are the lessons to learn from each challenge (use keywords).
  • I am too fixated on minor or irrelevant details or do not know most important details; Digresses into restricted interests, rather than piques follower’s interest and serves followers’ best interests… Establish structure in a manner that ensures that you do not miss any important details; then, you can take control of a given situation by speaking with all forms of credibility.
  • I am too shy to speak up when needed; there is too much pressure… Recruit help where and when you need it the most, even if it means developing just yourself, and plan out and organize those resources to maximize their effectiveness; in other words, get those resources to do exactly what you want them to do. Develop passion in what you do or plan to do and the rest will come naturally.
  • I do not feel like I can do this independently… Don’t sweat it! Try to develop abilities to do assortments of tasks that you must accomplish and get guidance as necessary; do not get guidance if you can easily figure out tasks at hand; get help when you absolutely cannot do something yourself; learn team building strategies for this.
  • I am not confident in having a positive influence… Just remember that during an organized event, people are there to listen to you and do what you say, although it is better to give recommendations and to delegate responsibilities fairly, rather than simply take over. Keep it positive every step of the way and devise strategies when the going gets tough for anything. Ask yourself the potential solution to a problem when it arises and keep calm; be a role model by acting like the person you want them to act like.
  • I have poor organizational skills… Do not hesitate to consult with other people and resources that specifically address this. Also ask yourself, how can I best keep track of materials in general. Obtain folders, files, etc. for documents and a calendar or calendar book in which you can write down the dates and times of upcoming events, meetings, etc. Planning is the single best strategy when you or your followers are disorganized or disoriented. Make sure that everybody involved has at least one role and delegate by each person’s strengths and willingness to participate in that role. Ask who wants what and go from there.

by Reese Eskridge

Asperger Syndrome: Independent Living

Recorded livestream broadcast

Discover helpful tools that assist with independent living. Join Aspergers101’s Jennifer Allen and son Samuel Allen to look at life after high school including driving and transportation, choices in higher education, employment and living options. Guest panel of doctors, educators and therapists answer viewer questions at the end of broadcast. Special Guest(s) Julie Coy Manier and son Eco-Artist Grant Manier.

(Recorded from San Antonio Public Library’s livestream broadcast on Tuesday August 8th 2017/Sinclair Broadcasting)

You may download our full presentation, with templates, resources and links below.

AS101 Summer Series – Independent Living Presentation

Choosing Not to Disclose Your Disability in the Workplace

In previous blogs we have discussed full disclosure of your disability, partial disclosure of your disability and different ways to go about deciding whether or not you should disclose. In the last blog we talked about the SODAS method for disclosing. One of the options was to not disclose it all.

disclose in the workplace

Some individuals that I work with feel like like this is the best route to go when they start a new job. If you choose not to disclose, as I have said before, it is a personal decision and should be carefully considered . . .