Lacking social perspective and coping with processing differences is not typical of most employees, but for those with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) or other autism spectrum disorder (ASD), these challenges are more common than most people realize.
Hence, an author with that profile recently posted on the Easter Seals blog his perceptions about how individuals with learning or developmental disabilities can better prepare themselves to handle the workplace, be it located in an office, retail store or in the field.
“Employment and having a disability (I have Asperger’s syndrome) can be a tricky combination,” Aaron Likens, who wrote the book "Finding Kansas: Living and Decoding Asperger's Syndrome," wrote on the blog.
Likens delineated on the blog his on-the-job difficulties in retrospect – noting that he himself was not diagnosed until age 20 –by setting down five main factors to be aware of for those on the spectrum (or anyone in general).
First, he said he realized he was unaware of structural hierarchy among his colleagues on the job, often addressing individuals “out of order.” Additionally, he said he had to learn that small talk is acceptable at work; and that it is perfectly appropriate to ask for help, especially in understanding communication, he wrote on the blog.
Another component regards anticipating job satisfaction. Likens said he observed that any job will be more pleasant if it is in an area of interest rather than rote or mechanical, he wrote. Finally, he came to understand, learning to trust his peers with knowledge about his differences ended up making a positive difference on him – allowing him to belong to a team, he wrote on the blog.
“When I … opened up I let (colleagues) know my strengths and my weaknesses,” Likens wrote on the blog. “It was the best thing I’ve done because as we grow the amount of awareness and understanding out there, people are going to be more accommodating and understanding.”