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.
Employers know that they are supposed to hire a certain percentage of individuals to be diverse in their company. But reality is, they will often hire a person who smiles a great deal, shakes hands and appears to get along well with others. What can we do as parents and professionals? Answers are different for each individual. You cannot write a curriculum for these challenges because as you know we are all different. I prefer to train in an environmental setting where many individuals are working and provide support by role playing, mock interviews and bringing parents to the setting to see for themselves what we all need to work on for their child to be successful in the workplace. This world can be hard and cruel regardless of the new words like diversity and gifted etc.… The employer must be sold on the fact that the individual brings to the employer gifts and strengths and is most certainly coachable. It takes effort and dedication with all parties to agree to learn with each other and make a cohesive fit that benefits all parties. Everything begins from HOME.
If you are truly interested in hiring a talented individual with Autism please contact me so we can discuss everything you need to know to make this unique connection and appropriate fit.
Latest posts by Jennifer Allen (see all)
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- How I Overcome Obstacles with ASD and Steps How You Can as Well - February 23, 2018