Why we need to start and promote autism-friendly businesses

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primaloath
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29 Aug 2010, 2:02 am

Allow me to summarize my education and employment history: first in class, bullied and harrassed in school all the way up to university (until I started to retaliate); excellent quality of work in my first workplace, bullied out of the job by my bosses, most colleagues and finally HR. I am now going for an interview elsewhere.

I am confident that, once I obtain my new position, I will either sue them successfully for their inevitable harassment (and thus find the doors of future employment closing for me) or quit early (and thus find the doors of employment closing for me). I also bet everyone here has experienced or will experience the sheer injustice of being kicked out of the economy by NT scumbags. I do not want myself, or anyone here, to go through this crap. I want people in abusive workplaces to pay for the injustice, and for there to a way for us to progress with our lives and careers whether or not our attempts at retribution succeed.

Now, we're supposed to be intelligent, highly competent, determined and moral. Some people here have experienced workplaces that were, over a certain period of time, neurodiversity-friendly (or at least autism-friendly). Some of us either have small networks of their own, or can learn how to network properly, both with fellow autists and NTs. It isn't that difficult and, because we've all progressed in one way or another, we can all advise each other on how to train our minds to develop various social skills. I would be more than happy to give my own input.

It really is crucial for us to develop a network to identify decent employers as well as work together and set up our own businesses. The Jewish Radhanites had a trade network in the middle ages that stretched from England to Japan (look it up on Wikipedia), and all it took for them was coordination, a productive sense of community. We can get there. I believe that, if we cooperate and apply our determination into the real economic world, we can do things better than the people who despise us for our differences.

Maybe a lot of people on these boards haven't dealt with the workplace, or have only had brief good experiences. Trust me: if kids bullied you in school, chances are bosses and co-workers will try to bully you in the workplace. They don't give a damn about your productivity; in fact, like the school bullies, they'll want to oppose you specifically because you have qualities that they know they'll never have. You will stand a much better chance of getting promotions, of doing good deeds through your influence and of supporting the the autism community at large, if you're part of a widespread network that provides mutual support and employment opportunities.

What I'm proposing, to start with, is that we keep a list of pro- and (barring the risk of libels or personal concern) anti-neurodiversity workplaces / headhunting firms, with time-stamped ratings for quality of service and the names of immediate managers / headhunting contacts. I would be happy to host this. I also propose that, as members of this network, we actively operate as headhunters, attempting to interface between diagnosed members and potential employers. Thus, we should check for opportunities within our own institutions and support fellow autists in acquiring them. Members can interact both online and at any face-to-face conferences that might be set up; there is already a monthly meetup in London, though I understand it is for social purposes. A list of charities related to employment for autists will also be provided.

It would also be ideal if the network allowed autists to hire other autists for their own businesses, and if the network provided seminars to improve social skills / interview skills.

The trick with this sort of network is weeding out the psychopaths / narcissists who inevitably attempt to infest it. One can do so by building up familiarity and trust between members, as well as by providing certain services only to those officially diagnosed (I'm not diagnosed, incidentally). Hopefully, autistics can spot Ps and Ns more easily than the NTs could.

I would love to turn back the clock by 6 years, find out about Asperger's and go into business or engineering instead of my chosen field, in order to support people here whose prejudiced workplaces and lack of social skills prevent them from rising to their full potential. I'm hoping this sort of initiative will nevertheless help.



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29 Aug 2010, 7:31 am

Sounds like a great idea. I would like to wish it well. Sadly I am of no material help, being an aspie of slender means and few skills.


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leejosepho
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29 Aug 2010, 10:44 am

primaloath wrote:
The trick with this sort of network is weeding out the [undesirables] ...
One can do so by building up familiarity and trust between members ...
... providing certain services only to those officially diagnosed (I'm not diagnosed, incidentally).

... in order to support people here whose prejudiced workplaces and lack of social skills prevent them from rising to their full potential.


For many years I have longed for something like what you suggest, but it is just not possible on any large scale. Some of us are diagnosed, others are not and still others are mis-diagnosed. Then, I doubt there are any two companies anywhere with identical policies and practices for interviewing and hiring ... and who could possibly ever circumnavigate all of that? The best anyone might do here would be to open and run a specialized employment service and placement agency, but then its equal-opportunity goals would immediately be threatened when its own discriminatory policies and practices became publicly know.

Idealists get frustrated for good reason: reality.


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pineapple
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29 Aug 2010, 7:55 pm

I think it would definitely be possible, although it would take a really long time before enough companies in enough different cities in enough different fields were listed. I totally agree with your premise though, and I wish that more networking among people on the spectrum was possible. Even if there was just a job-seeking group for us, I think that could be really helpful to the people in it. When I talk to NTs about job issues, they often don't understand why I have trouble with the things I do.



Sandee
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30 Aug 2010, 12:18 pm

I like LeeJosephO's reply to you.

I desire to own my own business - an employment agency designed for (ONLY) adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Similar to the Gail Hawkins Institute in - where ever it is - Canada? Michigan?

However, my dream of owning this business is dependent on knowning other people that want to start this type of business -AND the most important things - Title VII and HR laws.

I may come to find out that what I desire is not lined up with the Equal Employment Opportunity standards in America! So much for helping adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome and helping us to get and KEEP good meaningful jobs.
If Gail Hawkins is doing it - she knows what she is doing - and her company may be more in the "education" industry - trying to educate employers - I'm not sure if she places adults in the right job like an employment agency does.



primaloath
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30 Aug 2010, 4:40 pm

There appear to be charities in the UK involved in providing employment programmes (link), though I am not sure what the laws are like in the US, Australia, NZ and Canada, or indeed the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Also, This article shows one disability charity whose work placement programme made an MP smile and bask in good publicity.

Even when laws prohibit campaigns to support the disabled, one needs to bear in mind that discrimination laws ignore unofficial networking, as well as research projects aimed to determine the ease of employment (and the friendliness of the work environment) for people with autism in various businesses or business sectors.

Also, just to nit-pick a bit, according to Wikipedia, Title VII of the civil rights act only applies to sex, religion and race/nationality/color (though other laws referring to disability are mentioned in the same article).



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30 Aug 2010, 8:28 pm

There's the Danish company Specialisterne that specifically trains and employs people on the autistic spectrum, particularly in the IT sector:

http://www.specialisterne.dk/
http://www.specialistpeople.com/about/thorkils-story/

http://specialisternescotland.co.uk/
http://specialisternescotland.co.uk/ind ... th-autism/



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30 Aug 2010, 8:32 pm

In the UK, the National Autistic Society runs a programme called Prospects:

Prospects is our employment and training service for people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who wish to work. Our aim is that people with an ASD should have the same training and employment opportunities as non-disabled people. We also work with employers to help with the recruitment, training and retention of staff with an ASD. Some of our services are offered across the UK, others in specific areas.

http://www.autism.org.uk/our-services/e ... pport.aspx

And the NAS 'Transitions' programme:

Our Transitions programme is open to anyone with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who has recently graduated from university or college.

The programme offers a flexible package of pre-employment training to build your skills and confidence to prepare for employment. We offer one-to-one sessions (or, occasionally, small group workshops) which focus on the following areas:

* communication skills for the workplace
* job searching and interview skills
* disability awareness
* occupational choice
* creating an effective CV.

http://www.autism.org.uk/our-services/e ... tions.aspx



Sandee
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30 Aug 2010, 10:56 pm

[quote="EnglishLulu"]In the UK, the National Autistic Society runs a programme called Prospects:

Our aim is that people with an ASD should have the same training and employment opportunities as non-disabled people. We also work with employers to help with the recruitment, training and retention of staff with an ASD. Some of our services are offered across the UK, others in specific areas.

http://www.autism.org.uk/our-services/e ... pport.aspx

And the NAS 'Transitions' programme:



The programme offers a flexible package of pre-employment training to build your skills and confidence to prepare for employment.
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Hmmmm....I read a book about a year ago, I wish I could remember the name of it - sorry - but I agree with this book. People (specifically with Asperger Syndrome) do not need pre-employment training, we need JOBS, good jobs. I've had jobs before - MANY JOBS, a telemarkeing job that lasted 4 years (I was in Bible college and this was the only job I could have whilte at this bible college), I worked as a factory worker (This type of job really worked for me, but provided very little challenge for me), retail/cashier jobs (2 of them and I hated both of them), I worked at UPS - on the ramp with the plans withich taxed me (anxious) since I always had to find my crew members after I was sent on special projects (although I did enjoy doing special projects on my own), I've worked in office jobs (I loved this- but the temp jobs did not last long enough).

So, all in all - I have job experience - I do not need pre-employment training. I'm 35 years old and I've worked for 15 years and I've been unemployed since 2007. I started my own tutoring service since I needed to earn money. That was in 2008 and - I hated tutoring - and I made no profit since I charged only $20 per hour. If I charged less - people took me as a joke, and if I charged more - I had less customers. All in all - my comeptition was free since there were tutors at all schools - and the parents did not need to pay for any of these tutors. So, in late 2008, I stopped tutoring. I was only earning $40 or $60 a per week - not enough to live on.

When are people going to realize that adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome need real jobs - not pre-employment training. We are not stupid.



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30 Aug 2010, 11:42 pm

Sandee wrote:
...Hmmmm....I read a book about a year ago, I wish I could remember the name of it - sorry - but I agree with this book. People (specifically with Asperger Syndrome) do not need pre-employment training, we need JOBS, good jobs. I've had jobs before - MANY JOBS, a telemarkeing job that lasted 4 years (I was in Bible college and this was the only job I could have whilte at this bible college), I worked as a factory worker (This type of job really worked for me, but provided very little challenge for me), retail/cashier jobs (2 of them and I hated both of them), I worked at UPS - on the ramp with the plans withich taxed me (anxious) since I always had to find my crew members after I was sent on special projects (although I did enjoy doing special projects on my own), I've worked in office jobs (I loved this- but the temp jobs did not last long enough).

So, all in all - I have job experience - I do not need pre-employment training. I'm 35 years old and I've worked for 15 years and I've been unemployed since 2007. I started my own tutoring service since I needed to earn money. That was in 2008 and - I hated tutoring - and I made no profit since I charged only $20 per hour. If I charged less - people took me as a joke, and if I charged more - I had less customers. All in all - my comeptition was free since there were tutors at all schools - and the parents did not need to pay for any of these tutors. So, in late 2008, I stopped tutoring. I was only earning $40 or $60 a per week - not enough to live on.

When are people going to realize that adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome need real jobs - not pre-employment training. We are not stupid.
I appreciate your point, but I think that particular service, the Transitions one, is particularly targeted towards students/young graduates, targeted towards younger people who don't have as much work experience as you do, perhaps don't have any at all.

Some people here might find the service useful.

Lots of people, like you, and me, won't.