Category Archives: Aspies in the Workplace.

Which is more limiting? The Autism Label? Or Our Parenting?

Temple Grandin, whom I greatly admire,  refers to parenting as a “major source of therapeutic momentum”.  But she adds, when children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, parents may not have enough expectations for their children.


They bring the child through school to graduation, but in the meantime, they have not given the child the kind of experience that teaches them life skills, leaving the graduate either unemployed or under-employed.

Autistic children need to learn how to work, Grandin asserts.  They need to learn basic coping skills, like how to shop, how to order food in a restaurant.  Showing up on time, being responsible for a task outcome, these are skills that are needed in order to learn how to be on the job.


That’s why I personally feel that involving kids on the autism spectrum in some kind of volunteer activity, where they must show up regularly, and perform expected tasks, is invaluable to today’s kids, autistic or not.


As a volunteer, they must learn to be courteous (a missing factor in today’s world, Grandin laments) and to be reliable, to learn certain work routines and to cope with organizational structures.

As a volunteer, they will also meet retired people who have similar interests and who can mentor them.

The best part?  The child can choose the type of organization he/she wishes to volunteer with and select from a schedule of available days and times those which would be most suitable for them.

These kinds of situations force spectrum kids to interact with others, and Grandin says to insist on social interaction for your child is not only desirable, but necessary if you want him to succeed.


“The skills that people with autism bring to the table should be nurtured, for their benefit and for society’s.”  That’s why Grandin believes parents must help their children get out into the work world, learn coping skills and the basics of social etiquette.

As parents, we either help, or hinder.  While we cannot help how children are viewed by others, our most important work is in how we encourage our children to see themselves.


Quotes from:

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Ten Benefits of Volunteer Service From An Aspie’s Point of View.

Volunteer Services are a great way to prepare for work in the real world.  Volunteering can be a sort of head start program for Aspies.  Here’s why:

1. It gets you out of the house and interacting with people in a positive way that benefits you and your community.

2. It’s a non-threatening way of finding out what kind of work you like, what kind of hours you can handle, and how long you can stand to be part of a work place interaction.

3. If you don’t like it, you can quit.  You will still give notice so that someone can cover your shifts, but if you find the co-workers snarky, or the clientele is too much for you to handle, well, no harm done.

4. You will learn to schedule your responsibilities.  You have to make a commitment.  You have to show up when you say you will.  You have to be good at what you say you are good at.  You have to know that you can get there  (public transit, walking or bicycling) on your own.

5. You will learn to be reliable and punctual.  You will get good references if you do,.

6. You will learn to work with other people of varying ages, professions and education levels.  You will become part of a team.  You will learn how to interact with them in a non-abrasive way.

7. You will learn to understand heirarchy–how people rank in an organization, and how they fit together.

8. You will learn to follow orders–to listen carefully, to ask questions if you don’t understand or are not sure of what is being asked of you, and to find out what special tools or equipment is to be used in the carrying out of these orders.

9.  You will develop different skills, to varying degrees of competence.  These skills do count on a resume.

10.  You will experience limited rejection–most organizations are more than happy to greet new volunteers.

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Aspies Ask “Why Volunteer?”

In his teens, my grandson asked me why I wanted him to find a volunteer position.  He thought it a very odd request.  

I couldn’t really explain my thinking at the time, but now, twenty-two years old,  he told me he wishes he had taken my advice.  You see, he is desperately trying to come up with five professional references who are familiar with his work habits.  Like most Aspies, his work history is a little sketchy.  And being largely anti-social, he didn’t join many clubs or participate in any sports.  So there is a dearth of references.

Volunteering could have provided him with references from people who could vouch for his work habits, his reliability and his ability to get along with a team of co-workers.  And at the same time, he would be contributing to his community in a meaningful way.

My grandson suffered one solid year of rejection.  Every single day he would dress up, take several copies of his resume and go out to various malls and shops and apply for work. For one solid year, no one hired him.  It was very depressing.

But, stop and think about it–volunteer workers are always in demand.  The likelihood of being rejected is far less than if you were applying for a paying  job.

And you can choose the kind of work you will do, the type of organization you would like to work in, and you are far more likely to be able to set your hours than you would be in a paying job.

If you like animals, you can volunteer at SPCA, or a wildlife refuge, or even the zoo or aquarium.  If you like libraries and books and videos, you can volunteer at your local library.  If you think you might like teaching, you can volunteer in a literacy program.  If you like art, try your public art gallery.  There are volunteers in some airports,  in thrift shops, in hospitals, in parks, in soup kitchens, and in your local church.

There are many different ways and places you can volunteer.  The important thing is to find the situation that best suits you, both with regard to location, scheduling and type of work required.

For Aspies, this type of situation is perfect.  You will do your best,and may make new social connections, learn new skills, and collect good references for when you go job hunting, or need to fill out your passport application.

At the same time, if the circumstances don’t suit, or someone makes your shift unbearable?  You can try a few different coping strategies before bowing out gracefully with no ill effects.

Help your community!  Build relationships!  Learn workplace skills!  Accumulate references!  All good reasons for Aspies to take Volunteering very seriously.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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For Adults with Asperger’s: Overcoming Obstacles to Getting That Job…

Famous people with Asperger’s give us hope….

80% of grown-ups with Aspergers do not have full-time jobs.

This alarming statistic comes from the webpage, “My Asperger’s Child”.  In a recent article, the authors maintain the reason behind this statistic is not the lack of education or intelligence, but the lack of social skills which would allow employees with Asperger’s to perform their tasks in a “socially acceptable” manner.

“Countless studies show individuals would rather have pleasant and personable co-workers than a co-worker who is always right,” the authors point out.

They conclude that people with Aspergers must compensate for their lack of social competence by “making themselves so good in a specialized field that individuals will be willing to “buy” their skill even though social skills are poor”.

They go on to state that Aspies “need to learn a few social survival skills,” but situating themselves in work groups that are highly specialized is what these authors see as the real solution.  In their minds, Aspies would have more access to social relationships involving work colleagues because of very specific work-related interests.

While I do consider this good advice, I also maintain that working hard at learning social skills is equally important.  There are so many books, videos and online lectures on the subject…Let us do our best in both arenas.

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

Read more at:
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Office Etiquette: Humour Has It’s Place…

In my book, “Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen”, I talk about finding myself in an unfamiliar environment on at least two occasions.  If I had known the appropriate etiquette, I could have been spared much embarrassment.  So to save you, my friends, from suffering the same awkward moments at work, I’m offering you these Office Behavior Etiquette Tips:

Choose humor over swearing.

When conversing, give co-workers a respectable distance of 15 inches.

Smile often and acknowledge them as a sign of respect. 

Cell Phones:

Screen your calls using caller ID.  Set your phone to vibrate and let voice mail pick up.

Anticipate potential callers and call them first — before work.

Never answer your phone when you’re in a meeting.  If it’s life and death urgent, leave the meeting.  Go out of the room, and speak quietly if you really must take the call.

Don’t make your phone visible on a desk or a lunch table.

When you do eat with others, chew wisely and while they are talking instead of when you are talking.

These rules of office etiquette come from:

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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Employers and Autism: Why Would I Hire a Person With Asperger’s??

Want the best person for the job?  Someone focused, methodical, honest and reliable?  You could be looking for someone on the autism spectrum.

According to a bulletin from the National Autistic Society Northern Ireland and the Department for Employment and Learning (N. Ireland), people on the autism spectrum have some stellar qualities to offer.

“People with autism can make effective and highly valued employees,” the article begins.

“As is the case with all employees, it’s important to match the person’s particular skills to the requirements of the post.”

“People with autism are often very focused and have considerable skills in specific areas.”

“Some of the transferable skills include: attention to detail, a methodical approach, strong research skills,  good long term memory and excellent record-keeping.”

For more information on this topic, see:

Why not hire a person with Asperger’s?

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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