I left school in 1994 and had my first job interviews in the same year. I was, like most Aspies both then and now, full of nerves fueled by a strong desire to make the right impression. What I hope to do here is outline what I did to overcome them and what helpful advice I was given, which will hopefully also be of use to you.
My very first interview was in a hotel in my hometown. My mother had a wee word with me the night before. Mum’s advice was very well-intentioned — keep your answers short, don’t mention any of your difficulties and make yourself come across as the best person for the job (some kind of receptionist-cum-general-dogsbody). So, off I went, smartly dressed, quite nervous and determined to make a good impression.
I followed him as he ran down the hall to his bedroom. In the middle of his room was a 4-foot tall snowman, melting away.
While I removed the snowman and cleaned the remaining slush and mud, I asked him why he did it. He said, in a very matter-of-fact-tone, “It’s cold outside.”
My son has Asperger’s syndrome. For him, building a snowman in his bedroom because it was cold outside was a logical solution to a problem.
Because of my son, “Aspies” hold a special place in my heart. So whenever I hear someone in my industry talk about hiring an Aspie, I cringe just a little. Because in technology, saying you’ve hired an Aspie is like code to say that you’ve hired a machine.
If you reside in the state of Texas, you are now able to get a restriction code directly on your driver license (or State ID) stating you are hearing impaired or deaf. It’s called Communication Impediment with a Peace Officer and it is available to anyone challenged with communication such as Deafness, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Parkinson’s, Mild Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome, Mutism, PTSD and more.
This is the same campaign Aspergers101 initiated over 2 years ago resulting in Texas Legislative changes, however now the campaign is alerting residents statewide of the broader options, notably, the 7% who are hearing impaired. Emma Faye Rudkin, has graciously accepted the role of spokesperson in our statewide Public Service Campaign now airing throughout Texas. Emma is profoundly deaf since an early age illness but has become a major advocate for those who cannot hear. She is the founder of the non-profit organization Aid the Silent, in 2017 became Miss San Antonio and San Antonio Woman of the Year in the SABJ 2018 class of 40 Under 40. Her faith in Jesus is her strength and her passion for others drives her onward. She is inspired and inspires. We at Aspergers101 are grateful for Emma’s participation in the Driving with Autism and other Communication Impediments initiative in alerting others of the new driver license code.
The :30 PSA, as seen below, notifies drivers of the code and how it may save them in a pull-over scenario.
Our interview with Emma Faye Rudkin below:
AS101: Why do you think this new Texas DPS code is a good thing for those who are deaf or hard of hearing?
Emma Faye Rudkin: The new restriction code is crucial as a deaf person. My biggest anxiety while driving is being pulled over and unable to understand the officer. This removes a lot of barriers for deaf people and it is clearer than the old code. Officers need to be notified right away as they look at my license instead of me struggling to explain that I am deaf and need help communicating. The new code makes it obvious for the officer at the beginning to understand I cannot hear his instructions and questions.
I read a horrifying story of a deaf man being killed in Oklahoma by a police officer because of miscommunication and not following his instructions. That could happen to any deaf person if
It has been said that transportation is the biggest barrier for individuals with or without a disability. This is a common barrier many adults seeking employment struggle with. Once all the assessments are done, and a job environment you feel you will thrive in is found, it is imperative that transportation be worked out.
In my experience it is vital to the success of obtaining and maintaining employment to have conversations before job searches or assessments are done with the job seekers, and their family/support system, to work out the logistics of how the employee will get to work. Once this plan is made then there needs to be a contingency plan set in place in the event something comes up that affects the employee’s ride.
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is such a recent diagnostic category in the U.S. that most of the individuals who carry it are children or adolescents. We are only now developing a fund of experience that can anticipate and meet schoolchildren’s needs; we know even less about the typical vocational functioning and other needs of adults with AS.
Since most children with AS appear to require some interventions, supports, or modifications to enable them to succeed in school, it seems reasonable to assume that many adults with AS will require at least some supports or special conditions in the workplace.
One of the most common concerns adults report to AANE is work failure.
Although many men and women with AS are succeeding in the workplace, many others have a history of being unable to get and hold on to jobs.
Q: How should one go about communicating to an interviewer a brief summary of the world of Asperger’s Syndrome?
This is a really great question. There is a saying that goes: if you’ve met one person with Aspergers . . . you’ve met one person with Aspergers. I believe this statement is also true of how we communicate Asperger’s syndrome in the workplace.
As I have referenced in previous posts, it is important to do an inventory assessment of what skills and abilities you can bring to the workplace. The reason this is done is so that you can tell an employer exactly what you have to offer them.
It is also best to tell the employer what you need to be successful, and oftentimes I have found that the employer appreciates when expectations are set. When I have gone to interviews with my young adults with Asperger’s, I usually (if they are comfortable with it) go to talk to the interviewer beforehand, and give a brief explanation of that person’s communication style and needs so that expectations are set for the interview.
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.
As important as it is to understand your learning type, it is also important to know what different types of job you may do well at if you are unsure where to start looking. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and their experiences are not the same. This is not an inclusive list, and is written specifically for individuals with Aspergers/HFA.
It is also very important to know that just because you have an interest in a certain area does not mean there is an economy where you live to support it. I would also suggest doing research about the city you live in and the outlook for that type of job.
In November 1999 Temple Grandin wrote a short essay on choosing the right job. Here is a part of the essay:
“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 normal people. I have great difficulty with tasks that put high demands on short-term working memory.”
One year ago, Aspergers101 launched a Summer Series on Autism in conjunction with the San Antonio Public Library System. WOAI-TV live-steamed all four conferences and area experts on Autism participated in a panel discussion at the conclusion of every power-packed workshop.
Kicked off by Ron Lucey with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and announced by Ramiro Salazar, Director of SA Public Library System at the Press Conference, it was a huge endeavor that allowed free access to information on Autism.
This is community and teamwork at it’s finest!
We want to share all four sessions with you.
The topics are as follows:
Diagnosis 2. Social Development 3. Choices in Education and 4. Independent Living
Press Conference Announcing Aspergers101 Summer Series with the San Antonio Public Library Asperger Syndrome: From Diagnosis to Independence.
May 3rd 2017 10:30a San Antonio Public Library Downtown
SUMMER SERIES VIDEO LIBRARY
Do you suspect someone you love has autism or Asperger Syndrome? This program explores the signs, the medical explanation, and the hardwired facts. Topics discussed: signs of autism, the importance of diagnosis, grief, and moving forward with awareness. Hosted by Jennifer Allen, Founder of Aspergers101 and her son Samuel Allen. Special guest: Dr. Berenice de la Cruz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Chief Operating Officer, Autism Community Network. MORE: the San Antonio Public Library and Aspergers101 announced a partnership and upcoming four-part educational series that will focus on understanding and excelling with high-functioning autism or Asperger Syndrome. A well-known team of autism experts (many of whom live successfully on the spectrum) will participate in discussions about important related topics. A question and answer session with the panel experts will follow each night. The series will be presented by Jennifer Allen, Founder and CEO of Aspergers101. Aspergers101 is a local nonprofit dedicated to empowering and educating individuals with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome, their advocates, and the community.
#1 Diagnosis (May 9th 2017)
Download the pdf Powerpoint Presentation on “Diagnosis” here: Diagnosis
Part 1: Series on Understanding and Advancing Autism
Occasionally, if not rarely, you come upon greatness. You are in the presence of a person, an idea or a creation that inspires you to the core and will make such a difference in your thinking that it changes the trajectory of your life’s path. This type of greatness occured for a roomful of people last week at an event Aspergers101 hosted in San Antonio Texas. Unlocking the Potential: An Evening with Dr. Temple Grandin proved successful by the powerhouse line-up of speakers. Over the course of the next several weeks, Aspergers101 will share much of the knowledge and encouragement delivered from the podium by these speakers but we wanted to offer a glimpse into the evening with this introductory blog.
An overview of the evening “take-aways” all followed the theme of the evening, Unlocking the Potential which was consistent with each speaker that approached the podium. Addressing the challenges that come with the Autism diagnosis is a must however, rethinking the potential and putting that potential into it’s unique purpose was the resounding message through the various perspectives of the speakers.
The evening was hosted by Jennifer Allen and son Samuel Allen offering personal stories, an update on the statewide “Driving with Autism” program and keeping the podium synchronized speaker to speaker.
Message From the Texas State Capitol
Kicking of the evening was Ron Lucey, the (powerhouse) Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. His message of support for all disabilities was only surpassed by his focus on our citizens diagnosed with Autism and improving conditions for employment in the state of Texas. This is a man of action. Ron Lucey works, no fights, on behalf of citizens with disabilities.
He made it clear that it’s the Mom’s who make
Ron Lucey/Executive Director Texas Governors Committee on People with Disabilities (l) Jennifer Allen/Founder Aspergers101 (r)
things happen and he and his committee are there to support them in their mission for equality. He did read a proclamation made recently by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, declaring April Austim Awareness Month in the State of Texas. This was presented to Jennifer Allen with Aspergers101 at the end of his talk.
Following Ron was a brief video from speaker & author Dr. Gail Saltz. Dr. Saltz recently wrote ‘The Power of Different’ and included much of that book in her presentation. From a medical statepoint, the brain is wired differently for those on the autism spectrum and the ‘gifts’ that are unique to that brain are the gifts humankind is lucky to have. It’s these specialized talents that we must utilize for the their future and ours. Here you can view the message from Dr. Saltz in it’s entirety.
Revolutionary Employment Program Introduced
The next speaker super charged the evening with the topic of employing those with Autism. Tina James is the Chief People Officer of one of the top-rated businesses in America today. H-E-B Grocery is a giant grocery chain in the state of Texas and is swifty becoming the template for all business structures as they clearly place people first. When Tina spoke of a new program H-E-B is premiering called, Bridges, she spoke from her heart. Tina has a son on the spectrum and her passion for equality in employment literally set the audience on the edge of their seats!
Tina James/Chief People Officer H-E-B
Bridges launched last summer with an internship offered strictly for those with an autism/asperger diagnosis, in the coveted I.T. Department. The rate of pay was not the standard national average of $8/hr but double that rate…autism or not! This is only the beginning of what proves to be a smarter way of employment: hiring people for their abilities while removing the obstacles then advancing them up the ladder into the company that continuously grows off the charts. The ovation with this proactive approach to employment was only paralleled by the next speaker.
The Keynote Address: Dr. Temple Grandin
The keynote address from Temple Grandin was supercharged.