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Adult Asperger's Syndrome in the
           Workplace
  Common Issues & Practical Interventions




           Rob Crawford
    EAPA Central Arizona Chapter
          February 3, 2012
What do employers want?
What the ADA says about AS
• That it must be a substantial impairment
• That the person must be qualified for the
  job
• That the person must be able to perform
  the essential functions of a job with or
  without a reasonable accommodation
• A person must disclose the disability to
  receive accommodations
• The accommodations must be reasonable
  and not present and undue hardship
In the work world, consideration for
 accommodations is not based on
whether the worker has a disability,
     but whether they have one

       UNDER THE LAW
5 coherent/reliable dimensions of
        Asperger’s syndrome
• Perspective taking

• Understanding and expressing emotions

• Fact orientation

• Sensory sensitivities

• Rigidity in thinking
Psychological Factors for
                  ASD
· Stress, frustration and anger reaction to change or
interruptions

· Struggle to take initiative

· Higher anxiety levels particularly when meeting new
people or encountering change or new situations

· Abrupt manner in expressing thoughts, ideas, or opinions

· Single-mindedness, unwilling to see the viewpoint of
others.
What is social thinking?
Social thinking is a way to train
your brain to help you figure out
     the people around you.
What is the Hidden Curriculum?
Practical solutions for understanding unstated rules in
                    social situations
What are
some of the
  typical
 workplace
challenges?
Some typical workplace challenges

•   Binary thinking
•   Odd or unusual behaviors
•   Beginning/ending projects on time
•   Empathizing, relating, or interacting with
    customers, coworkers, supervisors
•   OCD
•   Sensory issues
•   Mega-anxiety = poor judgment/decision making
•   Appears to be oppositional or defiant
Typical barriers to success
•   Odd or unusual behavior such as talking       •   Exaggerated or overly sensitive
    to herself                                        reactions to feedback

•   Difficulty beginning projects - unsure        •   Low motivation to perform tasks of no
    where to start                                    immediate personal interest

•   Difficulty empathizing with others'           •   Asking excessive questions, or the same
    thoughts and feelings                             question repeatedly

•   Difficulty relating to and interacting with   •   Perfectionism
    authority figures
                                                  •   Poor judgment and decision-making
•   Difficulty interacting in a team                  skills
    environment
•   Difficulty multi-tasking                      •   Poor manners

•   Difficulty seeing the full scope of a         •   Reluctance to ask for help or seek
    project                                           advice

•   Difficulty with unstructured time             •   Resistant to change

•   Difficulty writing reports                    •   Sarcasm, negativism, critic

                                                  •   Slower productivity/performance
What’s Missing?
• Individuals with AS are unaware of how to
  determine if their KSA’s match position

• Employers are not well informed on AS

• Individuals with AS are not prepared to be
  effective self-advocates

• Employers are ill-equipped to determine
  accommodations

• Neither has not been taught how to determine
  accommodations based on task
What are some useful strategies
for workplace challenges?
Some useful strategies for workplace
            challenges?
• Tap into their:
   –   Excellent rote memory
   –   Absorption of facts
   –   Generally good math & science skills
   –   Good language skills
   –   Rules-oriented
   –   Detail-oriented
   –   Kind hearted
   –   Honest to a fault
   –   Guileless
What is the person with AS’ understanding of
         competitive employment?
 •   Wants to work?
 •   Motivated to learn new skills?
 •   Open to constructive feedback?
 •   Willing to take responsibility for their
     actions/reactions?
 •   Willing to work on issues that arise?
 •   Committed to being on time, doing their best in
     everything they do, and to make sacrifices?
 •   Able to handle a reasonable amount of stress?
 •   Willingness to disclose AS work-related issues?
Speak in a direct & clear
                  manner
Statements w/ implied meanings        Direct statements

 • Are you going to work on        • I want you to work on the
   the database assignment?          database assignment.


 • Brian, you’re the last one      • Please put the alarm on because
   leaving today.                    you are the last to leave the
                                     office.
 • I feel like lunch.              • I’m hungry, let’s go out for lunch.


 • We are behind schedule on the   • You are going to have to stay
   Jacob’s job.                      late to meet the deadline.
State expectation & show how
          to meet it
• Become gifted at stating the obvious:

  – Deadlines-time frames, schedules, etc.

  – Outcomes- what they look like, format, etc.

  – Behavior- dress, hygiene, appropriate
    conversation.
Looking at functional assets/limitations
     relative to a specific setting
• Must know how personal skills, abilities, training,
  education, and experience relate to specific position
  within the company

• Identify essential functions & environmental
  considerations of job

• Identify potential functional assets & limitations

• What CAMS are practical & reasonable for this employer?

• How or will I disclose?
Situational Assessment Focus Areas
Types of workplace behaviors to be observed and
                   assessed

1.   Ability to get along with co-workers/staff
2.   Ability to follow directions
3.   Ability to learn new tasks
4.   Speed of work
5.   Accuracy of work
6.   Frustration tolerance
7.   Safety
8.   Motivation
9.   Ability to follow complex directions
Consequence Chart: Potential employers
Objectives                   Alternatives   ADEQ-           Family         Sonora Quest
                                            Environmental   Practice       Labs-Lab
                                            Health          Specialists-   Technician
                                            Specialist      Lab Tech
Intellectually interesting                  1               2              3

Know what to expect                         3               1              2

Social considerations                       2               1              3

Benefits / Compensation                     2               1              3

Work environment                            3               1              2
Physical problem                            3               1              2
accommodations
Education                                   3               2              1
Personal considerations                     2               1              3

Totals:
*Good jobs for visual thinking people
                 with AS
• Animal trainer or veterinary technician -- Dog obedience trainer, behavior problem consultant.

• Automobile mechanic -- Can visualize how the entire car works.

• Building maintenance -- Fixes broken pipes, windows and other things in a commercial setting.

• Building trades -- Carpenter or welder. These jobs make good use of visual skills.

• Commercial art -- Advertising and magazine freelance work.

• Computer programming -- Wide-open field, especially in industrial automation, software design,
    business computers, communications and network systems.

• Computer-troubleshooter and repair -- Can visualize problems in computers and networks.

• Drafting -- Engineering drawings and computer aided drafting.

• Equipment designing -- Many industries, often a person starts as a draftsman.

• Factory maintenance -- Repairs and fixes factory equipment.
                                                                                       *Some
• Laboratory technician
*Why are these examples bad jobs for
            a person with AS?
• Air traffic   controller

• Airline pilot

• Cashier

• Casino dealer

• Futures market trader

• Receptionist and telephone operator

• Short order cook

• Taxi dispatcher

• Waitress
Uncertainties Chart: Am I able to
                       work?


Outcomes       I am unable to work      I am able to work part-time   I am able to work full-time
Chances        Most Likely              Likely                        Least Likely
Consequences   I will remain at home    I will work and will be       I will work and will be unable
               and become my            unable to attend to           to attend to household
               wife’s homemaker. I      household duties. I will be   duties. I may not be able to
               will be able to attend   unable to attend to my        sustain this work pace for
               to my interests as I     interests. Moderate anxiety   more than a year or two. I
               will no longer be “on    and stress.                   will be unable to attend to
               the clock”. Least                                      my interests. High anxiety
               anxiety and stress.                                    and stress.
Self-Accommodation
                Take 1
• Sectioning in progress.

• Please be so kind as to knock on the door
  before entering as this process is very
  sensitive to vibration and air currents.

• Also, your friendly ultra-microtome operator
  has an over-developed startle reflex… ;)
Self-Accommodation
                Autistic Jihad
• Please Knock On The Door Before Entering.

• Please be so kind as to knock on the door before
  entering as I am very easily startled and I do not
  wish to die prematurely as a result of a heart attack.

• Also, I have no wish to conduct an uncontrolled
  experiment with an un-capped syringe full of
  Uranium salts… ;)

      - Carlos
References used for
this presentation
Local Resources
National Resources
Employer Resources
       Employer
       Resources
In case of emergency:
Rob Crawford
Life Development Institute
www.lifedevelopmentinstitute.org
rcrawford@life-development-inst.org
(623) 773-2774, ext. 217

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Adult Asperger's syndrome in the Workplace

  • 1. Adult Asperger's Syndrome in the Workplace Common Issues & Practical Interventions Rob Crawford EAPA Central Arizona Chapter February 3, 2012
  • 3.
  • 4. What the ADA says about AS • That it must be a substantial impairment • That the person must be qualified for the job • That the person must be able to perform the essential functions of a job with or without a reasonable accommodation • A person must disclose the disability to receive accommodations • The accommodations must be reasonable and not present and undue hardship
  • 5. In the work world, consideration for accommodations is not based on whether the worker has a disability, but whether they have one UNDER THE LAW
  • 6.
  • 7. 5 coherent/reliable dimensions of Asperger’s syndrome • Perspective taking • Understanding and expressing emotions • Fact orientation • Sensory sensitivities • Rigidity in thinking
  • 8. Psychological Factors for ASD · Stress, frustration and anger reaction to change or interruptions · Struggle to take initiative · Higher anxiety levels particularly when meeting new people or encountering change or new situations · Abrupt manner in expressing thoughts, ideas, or opinions · Single-mindedness, unwilling to see the viewpoint of others.
  • 9. What is social thinking?
  • 10. Social thinking is a way to train your brain to help you figure out the people around you.
  • 11. What is the Hidden Curriculum? Practical solutions for understanding unstated rules in social situations
  • 12. What are some of the typical workplace challenges?
  • 13. Some typical workplace challenges • Binary thinking • Odd or unusual behaviors • Beginning/ending projects on time • Empathizing, relating, or interacting with customers, coworkers, supervisors • OCD • Sensory issues • Mega-anxiety = poor judgment/decision making • Appears to be oppositional or defiant
  • 14. Typical barriers to success • Odd or unusual behavior such as talking • Exaggerated or overly sensitive to herself reactions to feedback • Difficulty beginning projects - unsure • Low motivation to perform tasks of no where to start immediate personal interest • Difficulty empathizing with others' • Asking excessive questions, or the same thoughts and feelings question repeatedly • Difficulty relating to and interacting with • Perfectionism authority figures • Poor judgment and decision-making • Difficulty interacting in a team skills environment • Difficulty multi-tasking • Poor manners • Difficulty seeing the full scope of a • Reluctance to ask for help or seek project advice • Difficulty with unstructured time • Resistant to change • Difficulty writing reports • Sarcasm, negativism, critic • Slower productivity/performance
  • 15. What’s Missing? • Individuals with AS are unaware of how to determine if their KSA’s match position • Employers are not well informed on AS • Individuals with AS are not prepared to be effective self-advocates • Employers are ill-equipped to determine accommodations • Neither has not been taught how to determine accommodations based on task
  • 16. What are some useful strategies for workplace challenges?
  • 17. Some useful strategies for workplace challenges? • Tap into their: – Excellent rote memory – Absorption of facts – Generally good math & science skills – Good language skills – Rules-oriented – Detail-oriented – Kind hearted – Honest to a fault – Guileless
  • 18. What is the person with AS’ understanding of competitive employment? • Wants to work? • Motivated to learn new skills? • Open to constructive feedback? • Willing to take responsibility for their actions/reactions? • Willing to work on issues that arise? • Committed to being on time, doing their best in everything they do, and to make sacrifices? • Able to handle a reasonable amount of stress? • Willingness to disclose AS work-related issues?
  • 19.
  • 20. Speak in a direct & clear manner Statements w/ implied meanings Direct statements • Are you going to work on • I want you to work on the the database assignment? database assignment. • Brian, you’re the last one • Please put the alarm on because leaving today. you are the last to leave the office. • I feel like lunch. • I’m hungry, let’s go out for lunch. • We are behind schedule on the • You are going to have to stay Jacob’s job. late to meet the deadline.
  • 21. State expectation & show how to meet it • Become gifted at stating the obvious: – Deadlines-time frames, schedules, etc. – Outcomes- what they look like, format, etc. – Behavior- dress, hygiene, appropriate conversation.
  • 22. Looking at functional assets/limitations relative to a specific setting • Must know how personal skills, abilities, training, education, and experience relate to specific position within the company • Identify essential functions & environmental considerations of job • Identify potential functional assets & limitations • What CAMS are practical & reasonable for this employer? • How or will I disclose?
  • 23. Situational Assessment Focus Areas Types of workplace behaviors to be observed and assessed 1. Ability to get along with co-workers/staff 2. Ability to follow directions 3. Ability to learn new tasks 4. Speed of work 5. Accuracy of work 6. Frustration tolerance 7. Safety 8. Motivation 9. Ability to follow complex directions
  • 24. Consequence Chart: Potential employers Objectives Alternatives ADEQ- Family Sonora Quest Environmental Practice Labs-Lab Health Specialists- Technician Specialist Lab Tech Intellectually interesting 1 2 3 Know what to expect 3 1 2 Social considerations 2 1 3 Benefits / Compensation 2 1 3 Work environment 3 1 2 Physical problem 3 1 2 accommodations Education 3 2 1 Personal considerations 2 1 3 Totals:
  • 25. *Good jobs for visual thinking people with AS • Animal trainer or veterinary technician -- Dog obedience trainer, behavior problem consultant. • Automobile mechanic -- Can visualize how the entire car works. • Building maintenance -- Fixes broken pipes, windows and other things in a commercial setting. • Building trades -- Carpenter or welder. These jobs make good use of visual skills. • Commercial art -- Advertising and magazine freelance work. • Computer programming -- Wide-open field, especially in industrial automation, software design, business computers, communications and network systems. • Computer-troubleshooter and repair -- Can visualize problems in computers and networks. • Drafting -- Engineering drawings and computer aided drafting. • Equipment designing -- Many industries, often a person starts as a draftsman. • Factory maintenance -- Repairs and fixes factory equipment. *Some • Laboratory technician
  • 26. *Why are these examples bad jobs for a person with AS? • Air traffic controller • Airline pilot • Cashier • Casino dealer • Futures market trader • Receptionist and telephone operator • Short order cook • Taxi dispatcher • Waitress
  • 27. Uncertainties Chart: Am I able to work? Outcomes I am unable to work I am able to work part-time I am able to work full-time Chances Most Likely Likely Least Likely Consequences I will remain at home I will work and will be I will work and will be unable and become my unable to attend to to attend to household wife’s homemaker. I household duties. I will be duties. I may not be able to will be able to attend unable to attend to my sustain this work pace for to my interests as I interests. Moderate anxiety more than a year or two. I will no longer be “on and stress. will be unable to attend to the clock”. Least my interests. High anxiety anxiety and stress. and stress.
  • 28. Self-Accommodation Take 1 • Sectioning in progress. • Please be so kind as to knock on the door before entering as this process is very sensitive to vibration and air currents. • Also, your friendly ultra-microtome operator has an over-developed startle reflex… ;)
  • 29. Self-Accommodation Autistic Jihad • Please Knock On The Door Before Entering. • Please be so kind as to knock on the door before entering as I am very easily startled and I do not wish to die prematurely as a result of a heart attack. • Also, I have no wish to conduct an uncontrolled experiment with an un-capped syringe full of Uranium salts… ;) - Carlos
  • 30. References used for this presentation
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  • 43. Employer Resources Employer Resources
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  • 49. In case of emergency: Rob Crawford Life Development Institute www.lifedevelopmentinstitute.org rcrawford@life-development-inst.org (623) 773-2774, ext. 217