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Nan
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20 Sep 2008, 12:03 pm

ok. The kid is an Aspie, we know that. I am one, too, so I have a feel for where she is right now.
She has been at a new job for about two months. With the boss from hell (well known as such in the organization). The kid, even with some coaching from mom, is not "getting it" at this job, after having been successful in the two prior positions she's held.

Examples: Boss announces a meeting is to be held at 11 on Friday. Boss asked her on Thursday afternoon if she knew how to make coffee. Kid said "yes." End of conversation. Kid goes to work at 7:30am on Friday, putzes on the internet for a while, does some other chores. At 8:30 the boss comes in and asks her to get the coffee pot down for her (it's on top of the fridge, boss is too short to reach it). Kid does. They find that a co-worker has left teabags and stuff in it from having used it last. Other employee apologizes for the mess. Boss irritatedly tells Kid to go wash it out and fill it up with water. Kid goes to the bathroom sink (only faucet they have), washes it out, fills it with water. Brings it back. Boss throws a fit, saying "What's wrong with you? Not THAT water, dump that out!" and has her fill it with drinking water from the water cooler. Kid says she has no idea there was anything wrong with tap water, and does so. Coffee is brewed well ahead of the meeting time. Kid is unaware of any other problems, other than that the Boss is being uncivil.

Later in the day, before the kid is leaving at 4:00pm, the Boss jumps down her throat about not having come in and first thing made coffee. And why hadn't she checked to see if the coffee pot was clean? And why isn't the supply room neat - all the colored paper needs to be put away in one area to be easily accessible. Kid points out that all colored paper IS easily accessible and Boss says "that one should be over there" - literally, moving a stack of paper six inches to the left on the shelf. Boss says "You have to be neater. Are you sure you can do this job?"

Another day: Kid had taken materials out of a box to sort on a table in a back room earlier in the day. After a bit took a 5 minute break to sit and do something else, as her wrists were bothering her. Boss comes to her and says "why did you leave that stuff all over the back table? We need this office to be kept neat, you should put things away!" Kid says she was in the middle of the project, and taking a break for a moment, and will finish up shortly. Boss walks away without another word.

Another day: Kid gets email from clients at 9:00am asking questions for which a resolution is not available, but will be after the meeting. Questions are not time-sensitive. At 9:30 Boss remotely goes into her email account, sees the messages, and asks why she hasn't answered them. Kid says she was going to wait until after meeting to be held later that morning to have the correct answer to give the clients. Boss says the emails should have been answered right away, what was she thinking to leave them in there unanswered? Note that the subject of when to respond to emails had NEVER come up before, nor had there ever been any training given.

Another day: Kid is doing a large sorting project. Boss comes out of her office when kid has about 20 minutes left of the workday and is almost done with the project and asks if she'd like to do this other thing for a while. Kid says "no, I'm almost finished here, I'd like to get it all wrapped up before I leave for the weekend." Boss looks startled, goes back into her office. Kid did note the startled look. Red flag. [Boss does not say what she means, she is talking in code. Like a lot of NTs - proper answer from Kid should have been "do you need that done right away?"]

Another day: Boss comes to her asking for the list of names of people coming to "the meeting we're having next week" (note, there are several meetings scheduled). Kid did not prepare the list, it was done by the previous employee. Kid asks boss for the title of the event or document, or any other tips on how she might locate it. Boss rattles off some things that Kid is not familiar with. Kid searches through all the files on her desk, finds three docs that could potentially be what Boss needs, none of them labeled as boss had indicated. Takes them to Boss, boss asks her why she brought all three in - Kid says she could not tell from information Boss had provided what, precisely, she was looking for but that the three documents appeared to be the most likely ones needed. Boss took one, dismissed her with a "well, you wasted a lot of time getting this." XYZ (previous employee) would have found it for me immediately.

Previous Friday: Boss chewed out kid for not being more proactive in her job. Kid pointed out that every time she'd been proactive Boss had told her she should have asked her first, cc'd her, or otherwise waited for instructions from the Boss so it was difficult to be proactive when everything she did was criticized or dismissed. This week Boss says there's obviously a communication problem, and it must be Kid's fault, since she's never had this problem before. Red flag there.

Kid tells me she asked to attend a class on a software package, as she would need it to use on her job. Boss sends a part-time employee, junior to the kid, to take the class instead. Kid is livid, saying she needs this for her job. I'm seeing a red flag that's saying they think more highly of the part-timer than they do the Kid, and that does not bode well for continuing in the job.

Now, it's kind of obvious that this woman has a screw loose, she's older than dirt, completely computer illiterate, and she has quite a reputation for being a horrible supervisor throughout the organization. We know that. We also know that the Kid is an Aspie, and is an extremely literal thinker. The object here is to keep the kid working there for another 4 months, so she'll have finished her probationary period with the organization and can bid on another job - just like the last six people who have taken that job have done.

I've told the kid that she's going to have to go in, every morning, and ask Boss if there are any tasks for her, and ask Boss what priority she'd like them to be in. If Boss says something like "can you make coffee?" that is is not a yes/no answer, that it should automatically be a clue that she should say something like "Yes, I can. Do you need coffee? When would you like it ready." When the Boss comes and says "Would you like to work on this other project now?" That the Kid needs to ask "is it urgent, do you need for me to finish that before I complete this other major project?" The Boss keeps asking her if she doesn't need to write things down to remember what to do (she does not). That's not a question - the Boss wants her to write things down, she's signing the paycheck, so write things down. I know these exchanges are unnatural for her, just as they were for me until I learned what to watch for, but she has to learn them.

And to also document in writing every one of the unpleasant exchanges that happen - date, time, situation, what Boss said, what she said in response. She just is not getting it - says she'll start next week. I told her she needs to start NOW and to retroactively write up every exchange she can remember.

There is a sympathetic co-worker, senior to the Kid (and has been there for 15 years), who commiserates, tells her that the Boss is acting exactly as she always has acted with anyone, and that she is the reason everyone who is hired in leaves as soon as they can. I've suggested to the kid that she go to this older co-worker and ask if having a sit-down discussion with Boss and Co-worker to discuss this "communication" problem would be helpful. With a "normal" boss, it would. With a boss like this, it may make things worse.

We don't have official documentation of Kid's status as Aspie. We could rush though and in a couple of months have that, and file it and ask for work modifications, such as providing a written list of tasks to be done or a daily debriefing of what the boss wants done in what way, etc., but I don't think this supervisor would actually follow through as the law requires - she'd find a way to just shoot the Kid down. And, at that point, the Kid is in the system as "a disabled worker" with a bad reputation based on the supervisor's notes. AKA, she's screwed.

Thus, I've tried to get her to tell me what's going on with as much of what the Boss is saying and doing every day, and we've discussed what she probably means and expects (which is hard to do. From what I'm hearing, the woman is a psychic vampire!). I can't interfere in any way, although I know a lot of people in that part of the organization. All I can do is sit back and watch what's starting to look like a train wreck approach in slow motion. I have been unable to convince the Kid that she's going to have to play the game in order to survive the four more months it'll take to get "permanent" status and get out of there.

Ideas?



Botti
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20 Sep 2008, 12:22 pm

I can't interfere in any way, although I know a lot of people in that part of the organization. All I can do is sit back and watch what's starting to look like a train wreck approach in slow motion. I have been unable to convince the Kid that she's going to have to play the game in order to survive the four more months it'll take to get "permanent" status and get out of there.

You just gave the solution. You stated the kid won't be convinced to play the game. Everyone eventually learns from experience. If the kid is fired it will come together for her later on what she must do to work.

And she will respond emotionally.


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Nan
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20 Sep 2008, 1:40 pm

Botti wrote:
I can't interfere in any way, although I know a lot of people in that part of the organization. All I can do is sit back and watch what's starting to look like a train wreck approach in slow motion. I have been unable to convince the Kid that she's going to have to play the game in order to survive the four more months it'll take to get "permanent" status and get out of there.

You just gave the solution. You stated the kid won't be convinced to play the game. Everyone eventually learns from experience. If the kid is fired it will come together for her later on what she must do to work.

And she will respond emotionally.


Nice answer, thanks, but not helpful. Unfortunately, we really don't have that option (or, rather, chaos will ensue if the negative outcome happens). The kid has serious, life-threatening at times, ongoing health issues that require medical insurance. I can't afford it on the open market and she's aging out of coverage on my plan. Hence, she has to be working somewhere that has decent insurance. That's pretty much the only reason she's working full time instead of part time. Most employers do not offer insurance here - not the ones where she could easily find work, anyway. This place does, and we can share expenses getting to work since I work in another department there. We also need the money - the household cannot afford for her to be unemployed. Hence, it's in my (and hers, in the long run) best interests that she remain at this job until she can transfer out from under Dracula. Hence the question: How can we make this work?

Obviously, she's not as mature as is necessary to deal with this smoothly, but she's ~almost~ there. What I need are strategies to use with or pass along to her to use with this person who does not communicate clearly and directly. If she were 15 or 16, if we didn't need the cash, or if the health thing were not baggage, I'd say yep, let her fall. She'll have to deal with it and learn to pick herself up. Unfortunately, our situation is as it is. We need for it to work out, for at least four months.

And it's not so much that she won't play the game by conscious decision. It's more that she doesn't quite "get it" as to how it works and the flags to watch. She's only just starting to become aware that "the game" exists. The red flags are going up all around her and she just is clueless.



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20 Sep 2008, 5:00 pm

I'm not sure what to offer, but I commiserate-- I had a similar boss once. I quit the job, because it was a temporary job to begin with. I also have the problem with being proactive. My last boss was wonderful, and made me a prioritized list of what I needed to do each day. It took her about 2 minutes to do, and helped me a lot. I also made a list of "things to do when there isn't anything else to do" (ie, sweeping, restocking things), which she thought was a good idea. Maybe that would help the Kid with the being proactive issue. Anyway, I have no idea how to deal with illogical people. I think this issue might be where a trusted NT would come in handy :wink:



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20 Sep 2008, 6:09 pm

Unfortunately, a lot of things depend of where you live, and "left coast" is so uninformative. I realize the desire to remain anonymous, but no one can be expected to assist with this if we cannot properly ascertain as to which country you are from, (I assume America, but being an aspie, i hate assumptions). The reason this is important, is because if you do indeed reside in the US, there are laws in your favor, assuming that certain other factors were implemented correctly, such as, you listed on the application that you were disabled, and they hired you anyways.
All that aside, my only other questions would be, does the "boss" know about you kids "condition", (the aspie part, not the other health condition you mentioned)? Does your kids boss have a boss that, failing to resolve the issues with your kids boss, you might be able to speak to him. should the issue go unresolved after that, have your kid speak to your boss, and/or his/her bosses boss. there is the labor board, assuming that they know about the aspergers condition, if they are not doing things to make "reasonable accommodations", then there are legal ramifications that they may be liable for.
I am not a lawyer, so you should check with a lawyer for the state you live in, (again, assuming you live in the US), to see what right your state grants to persons with disabilities, also ask them about your rights federally. Some of this you can find on the internet as well, but a lawyer will be more up to date than most websites, and may also offer ideas that website cannot.
First and foremost, I would speak to the boss, and tell them that, part of the reasonable accomodations needed are that the boss be VERY, VERY literal and direct.
I would also consider speaking to the bosses boss, and ask him for either advice on how to handle the boss, as he may be unaware of how the person under him is treating other people, especially those with a "disability".
Or, he might know how she is in general, but may not know himself about the disability, and upon learning about it, might require your boss to attend "sensitivity training" regarding your kids condition.
You must keep in mind that, although many people know about ASD's, not all know how to deal with it, and there are plenty who still know nothing about them.
Don't sit around waiting for the world to learn about this "problem", teach them.
Remember, very few people are going to change on their on for you, or your kids sake, but if you can show that your trying to meet the halfway, the rest is on their heads, so to speak.
I hope that helps a little.


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Nan
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21 Sep 2008, 1:34 am

Nachtus01 wrote:
Unfortunately, a lot of things depend of where you live, and "left coast" is so uninformative. [Google the term. It's a literary one. :wink: ] I realize the desire to remain anonymous, but no one can be expected to assist with this if we cannot properly ascertain as to which country you are from, (I assume America, but being an aspie, i hate assumptions). The reason this is important, is because if you do indeed reside in the US, there are laws in your favor, assuming that certain other factors were implemented correctly, such as, you listed on the application that you were disabled, and they hired you anyways. [It's illegal in the US to ask about disability status on hiring applications.]
All that aside, my only other questions would be, does the "boss" know about you kids "condition", (the aspie part, not the other health condition you mentioned)? [Doubtful. She doesn't want to be labled "autistic" at work, as that's pretty much the kiss of death for promotions and any future job transfers. This woman is very "old-school" and the Kid is afraid she'll immediately cut the Kid out of tasks and duties because of the mis-perceptions around the label. I'm not convinced she's wrong. Once that happens, the things one needs to put on a resume by having done them will not be offered to her to do. She'll be dead-ended.] Does your kids boss have a boss that, failing to resolve the issues with your kids boss, you might be able to speak to him. should the issue go unresolved after that, have your kid speak to your boss, and/or his/her bosses boss. [Having her check with the sympathetic older worker next week about options for discussions. Dracula is the boss of the Department, which is small. Given her level (entry level), she really can't go to the level above Dracula and have any credibility.] there is the labor board, assuming that they know about the aspergers condition, if they are not doing things to make "reasonable accommodations", then there are legal ramifications that they may be liable for. [I know. The problem here is that in order to claim for ADA, even if I can convince the kid to do that and that it DOESN'T kill her career prospects, is that she'd have to be certified (I believe this is how it works in the organization) in writing by a professional and possibly the state voc/rehab agency. We already know she is Aspie, we've kept it off her written records because it qualifies as "a pre-existing condition" that would destroy any chance of purchasing private health insurance, even if we could afford it. [This was prior to her developing other health issues, or, rather, them being recognized.] So, if we decided to take that gamble, it will take from four to six months to get in to the appropriate medical professionals to have the correct documents drawn up, and then submitted to the organization's disability office for verification. Until we have that, she can claim anything she wants, but the organization (aka Dracula) is under no legal mandate to do diddly to help her. Unfortunately, time is a factor here, and it's not working in our favor.]
I am not a lawyer, so you should check with a lawyer for the state you live in, (again, assuming you live in the US), to see what right your state grants to persons with disabilities, also ask them about your rights federally. Some of this you can find on the internet as well, but a lawyer will be more up to date than most websites, and may also offer ideas that website cannot.
First and foremost, I would speak to the boss, and tell them that, part of the reasonable accomodations needed are that the boss be VERY, VERY literal and direct. [I've advised her to do that. And if she feels she can't do it face to face, to do it in writing.]
I would also consider speaking to the bosses boss, and ask him for either advice on how to handle the boss, as he may be unaware of how the person under him is treating other people, especially those with a "disability". [I believe, in this particular case, it's a matter of nobody particularly cares. She's been there 30 years, she's entrenched. She already has a track record of chewing up and spitting out employees (six in three years), and nothing's ever been done. We'll have to try something on a lateral tangent, I think. But it's always on the table for her to consider that option.]
Or, he might know how she is in general, but may not know himself about the disability, and upon learning about it, might require your boss to attend "sensitivity training" regarding your kids condition. [That won't happen in this organization. They pay a lot of lip service to "diversity" and "disability rights", but only because of the fear of lawsuits and of losing federal money. Other than that, they want employees that cause the least trouble and give them the most return for the money they are paid. I've been with the org for almost 15 years and been watching.]
You must keep in mind that, although many people know about ASD's, not all know how to deal with it, and there are plenty who still know nothing about them.
Don't sit around waiting for the world to learn about this "problem", teach them.
Remember, very few people are going to change on their on for you, or your kids sake, but if you can show that your trying to meet the halfway, the rest is on their heads, so to speak.
I hope that helps a little.
It does, thank you for taking the time to write. But what I'm REALLY looking for here are some techniques the kid can use, some adaptations SHE can make, not what I can ask an environment that's not likely to be accommodating to modify itself into. Some tools I can give her (other than putting it all in writing, have a conference every day, talk to other, sympathetic senior office workers for advice....)??



Last edited by Nan on 21 Sep 2008, 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nan
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21 Sep 2008, 4:38 am

pineapple wrote:
I'm not sure what to offer, but I commiserate-- I had a similar boss once. I quit the job, because it was a temporary job to begin with. I also have the problem with being proactive. My last boss was wonderful, and made me a prioritized list of what I needed to do each day. It took her about 2 minutes to do, and helped me a lot. I also made a list of "things to do when there isn't anything else to do" (ie, sweeping, restocking things), which she thought was a good idea. Maybe that would help the Kid with the being proactive issue. Anyway, I have no idea how to deal with illogical people. I think this issue might be where a trusted NT would come in handy :wink:


Thanks! I've been thinking that the list strategy is a good plan. Myself, at work, I list what needs to be done every day. If I don't know a task's priority, I try to find out early in the day. I've been doing this for decades, so it's now second nature, but for her it'd be something new to try. And yes, the older office-mate is on the schedule.

I just hope the kid doesn't go soggy and lose her nerve. It took over 90 job applications before she got this job. It'd be a damned shame for her to blow out of it, when if she can just stick it out for a few months she'll have access to any job at her level anywhere in the company. Right now, she can't move positions. If she gets fired, she'll never get rehired. If she quits, the emotional damage would be the worst of all the negative outcomes - it took years to get her to the point of being functional in the workplace, a little bit at a time.



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22 Sep 2008, 2:53 pm

UPDATE: Trusted NT was consulted this morning. Turns out that Dracula has a history of poor communications with subordinates. Kid was instructed to go to Human Resources with a list of documented incidents (dates, times, names, situations, interactions, witnesses) etc., and ask that it be placed in her file along with a letter stating her concerns and what she's trying to do to make this job work. She will also be seeing the head of the employee assistance program this week.

Surprisingly, Dracula showed up with a list of what she wanted Kid to do today, rather than peppering her with tasks and then complaining to her that she'd given them the wrong priorities (when she initially had set the priorities herself). Perhaps she realized she'd crossed the line with the coffee pot thing?

We had brainstormed about this last night, so it's nice Kid doesn't have to be the one to go in with a list and ask the boss to update it. Kid will now note on list when boss gave it to her, and when any priorities changed (time, day). If any other uncivil instances occur, she will document them, list any witnesses, and file with Human Resources.

She will get official documentation of her health issues and provide it, requesting accommodation as appropriate. Regarding her Aspie status and health insurance: since her other issues now eclipse it as being the "pre-existing conditions" that would prevent getting a policy, she will go and get the "official" paperwork and file it, asking for no additional modifications unless she starts to have trouble with a specific task that is related to being Aspie. Frankly, in the office situation in which she now works, other than the lists and to be given some training (which hasn't happened at all, to date), she shouldn't need any accommodation.

Thanks for your ideas. Looks like this may work out after all. I'm especially proud that she's taking all these steps herself - she's standing up for herself and not just wilting away.



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23 Sep 2008, 6:38 am

Thanks for clarifying the whole "left coast" thing. I was not aware of this, i suppose thats bad of me, considering I have spent 32 of my 36 years living in Oregon. :oops:
I am glad to hear that everything else seems to be heading in a better direction for your kid, and hope you will keep us posted about it in the future.


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24 Sep 2008, 1:04 am

Good to hear things are improving.



Nan
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25 Sep 2008, 3:23 pm

Ok, further update. It's getting better in a whole new meaning of the term.

Another co-worker has gone to HR about the boss. So the Kid may not have to do a thing. :wink:

The "up" side of this is that the kid has negotiated her way almost all the way through a difficult situation without running away from it. BIG star on her imaginary chart. This was a kid who four years ago could not go into a 7-11 and buy herself a slurpee because it meant talking to the clerk. She asked for advice, but she's doing it on her own.


[doing the mom "yesssssss!" thing dance here.]



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25 Sep 2008, 3:34 pm

agreed, that she is taking these steps is a big thing, especially being as bad as you sy she was. you should throw her a party to celebrate her, "coming out". We did that when our autistic child told his first lie, lol. It wasnt because he lied, but because he realized that he had private thoughts, hehehe. This was actually what they told us to do, believe it or not. celebrating the fact that he was an individual was supposed to "encourage" growth in his sudden self awareness. I must say it seems to have worked. for an autistic child he does quite well socially. he still has some issues, but nothing near as big as they used to be


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