Creating a Network for Those with Aspergers in the Workforce

Aspergers: Getting a Job

Once you have written your “one-minute commercial” and are confident telling others about yourself, it is time to start building your network. What is a network? A network is any friend, family member, mentor, teacher, or professional that can help you in your quest for employment. Building a network takes time, but can be extremely beneficial.

People at Work

Most people get jobs, because of someone they know. New employers usually feel more confident when they hire a person recommended by someone they know. Hiring a new employee is expensive so they want to go with someone, who others can personally attest to their skills.

So, who should be in your network? What is the best way to go about creating a network?

I would start with any friends from school, work, or different organizations that you believe would keep an eye out for jobs for you. Then think about family members that could help, think about former employers, teachers and supervisors…this is a great place to start. Sometimes your direct contact may not know anybody, but someone in their network may know of a good referral, or opportunity.

In the classes I teach I use Dr. Jed Baker’s “Preparing for Life” series. He offers different types of scripts that have proven beneficial for my clients. These can be used in conjunction with the one minute commercial to start building your personal network!  Two examples of scripts are below.

Scripts for Networking:

Script for calling a friend, relative, current or former employer, teacher or supervisor:

  1. Hi this is, ________________. I am looking for a job as a _________________and I was hoping you could help. Is this an okay time to talk?
  2. Do you know anyone who may need someone who can______________________?
  3. Do you know anyone else who might know of any job opening?
  4. Would you be willing to be a reference for me? Would you be comfortable telling others my skills in____________ and some of my personality traits such as________________?
  5. If so can I get your contact information for an employer?
  6. Thank you for your time.

Script for calling someone who has been referred to you by others.

  1. Hello this is__________________. I am a friend (or relative or acquaintance) of____________________. I’m looking for a job as a______________________ and he or she said that you might be able to help. Is this an okay time to talk?
  2. Do you know anyone who might need someone who can_______________________?
  3. Do you know anyone else you might know of any job openings?
  4. Thank you very much for your time.

by Maggie Cromeens

Customer Service with Aspergers: Greeting Customers with a Smile

Smile and Succeed

One of the most important job skills every employee, including those on the autism spectrum, must learn is how to greet a customer properly. If employees learn this valuable skill, they will be way ahead of the pack. Their employer will notice and customers will become life-long evangelists.

Smile

Many employees (and business owners!) fail miserably at this simple task, turning customers off forever and losing them to the competition, or to the online marketplace, often without even realizing it.

In my previous life I owned a specialty retail store. I developed an extensive and innovative six-week customer service and sales training program for new employees, where they were introduced to proven techniques and had to pass a test before joining the sales team. The program worked. I watched as confidence – and customer satisfaction and sales – soared. The tenets taught in this first training program provided the basis of my award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service.

Starting with that all important smile and friendly greeting at the front door, we took our store from a start-up to a beloved award-winning specialty retail business.

Choosing How to Disclose Your Disability in the Workplace: SODAS Method

In a previous blog we defined full disclosure of your disability, and accommodations. Often times individuals will have more than one disability, but only one of them may be a concern in the workplace. What I mean by this is that one disability may stay hidden while the other one is visible.

SODAS Method Choosing Disclosure

As I have worked through the disclosure process with my clients, they frequently only want to let one disability be known. To work through this we often use the SODAS method, which stands for: Situation Options Disadvantages Advantages and Solution.

The following is an example of the SODAS method:

Situation: I have more than one disability and don’t know if I should disclose all, one, or none

Options: 1) Full Disclosure 2)Partial Disclosure 3) Non-Disclosure

First you list the disadvantages to each of the options.

Disadvantages:

  1. Full Disclosure – I may get made fun of, or discriminated against
  2. Partial Disclosure – They won’t be aware of my other disabilities that may affect my work
  3. Non-Disclosure – I will have no additional support

Next list the advantages to each of the options.

I hired someone with Asperger’s – now what?

Last January after a fresh snowstorm, my 9-year-old son asked me to help him build a snowman. I told him that I would be out to help shortly.

A couple of minutes later he came running back yelling, “Dad, it’s melting!”

That got my attention. It was sub-30 outside, so how could a snowman be melting?

CNNARTICLE

(Photo and Article originally from CNN)

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.

Texas Driver License Now Recognizes Those Who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired

Aspergers101 Exclusive

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 

The Issue of Work Transportation for Employees with Aspergers

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.

Man driving his car

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: 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

What Kind of Job Should you Choose Based on Your Learning Type?

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.

Reading girl

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.”

View Entire Summer Series: From Diagnosis to Independence

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:

  1. 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

_________________________________________________

#2 Social Development (June 13th 2017)

Download the pdf Powerpoint Presentation on “Social Development” here: Social Development

Resources: App’s, ibooks and videos on non-verbal communications Momentum Research , Social Quest, Model Me Going Places, The Social Navigator are all at a cost but seem to rate well.

Unlocking the Potential: A Powerhouse of Direction

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.