Autism and Work

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been blogging on Autism Awareness Month this month and giving an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to have Asperger’s. Tonight, I’d like to take a look at autism and the workplace.

Can we hold down jobs? Yes. We can indeed. However, for our jobs, I do think employers need to realize some pieces of information about us and what I say I believe could also apply to other people as well and I believe it in fact does. I also think the same principles can be found in Aspies doing management and I have been in a position of management before as well.

To begin with, it can be easy in the workplace to treat your employees as expendable at times. The Aspie needs to know that you are willing to stick up for him in front of the customer. We have a saying that “The customer is always right.” I can’t help but think that if people believe that, then I’m going to go to the bookstore and electronics store, get everything I want, say it’s free, and remind them that the customer is always right. Well, no. The customer can get the benefit of the doubt, but they can surely be wrong.

If we see ourselves as expendable, why should we bother really giving our all? We know we can be replaced with just anyone who happens to be walking down the street that day. Now I believe that we SHOULD ideally do all we can for our bosses, but we also know that if someone is an employer, they should be seeking to make that as easy as possible for their employees.

While we’re not big on social relationships, we do want to know we matter. Get to know the people you’re working with. In my one management position, I made it a point that unless physically incapable, I would not have someone do a job I wasn’t ready to do myself. There was a time I sent someone to do a job due to having extra people on hand and when things got slowed down, I went and joined him and started asking him questions on how he was doing and what did he plan to do when he graduated from school and questions of that sort. It’s another way of showing you’re not just a cog in the machine.

Humor is of great importance. I’m reading on audio a fascinating book right now called “The Levity Effect” on how employers can benefit their companies if they learn to lighten up and it’s been incredibly revealing. We all prefer to be around people who know how to have fun and are happy. Somehow, we’ve made this mistake of thinking the opposite of being funny is being serious. No. One can be seriously funny.

The workplace needs to be a place the Aspie enjoys being in and probably having them out doing social work is not the best aspect, unless it’s a kind of work that they really enjoy, such as how I had a great job at an electronics store one time selling video games or I could work at a bookstore easily due to knowing the subject matter. In ordinary social parlay, when customers come up with statements meant to be funny, we don’t always know how to reply.

Of course, companies need to make sure they’re having good pay and hours, a safe work environment, and other such matters, but most companies already know that. Get an Aspie however and treat them right and you will find that you have an incredibly devoted employee on your hands.

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