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Employment Suggestions for Adults with AS FROM Adults with AS

Recently we sent out and e-mail to adults on our mailing list, to get their thoughts on employment. We are very grateful to all the people who responded, and we hope you will find their hints and tips helpful.

Anonymous

What is your current or past employment?
Component Engineer at a semiconductor company

How did you find your current job?
Through a listing at the state unemployment office.

Recommendations so that others may find success?
Find your “niche” A job you have that doesn’t interest you will lead to stress and you being overwhelmed.

What works in the way of supervision?
The less supervision the better. I have my own way of working and it is uncomfortable to change it to meet another person’s commands.

What type of work environment best suits you?
A quiet environment suits me best with few people around me as possible.

In what capacity do you work with others?
I deal with specific requests from co-workers; I’m not part of a team.

S.M.S.

What has been your past or current employment?
Past: Accountant, professor of music, business and computers. Current: College faculty, author; consult and present on autism spectrum-related issues.

How did you find these jobs?
Previous: Newspaper ads. Current: word of mouth.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Follow your interests but make sure you use them in a way that fits your interaction style with others. An example for me would be liking mutual funds and accounting, but not doing it in an accounting firm. Prepare a portfolio of examples of your work before the interview. Get someone interested in your work before an interview. A mentor in the workplace is often vital to your longevity there.

What works in the way of supervision?
I dislike close supervision where something must be done in a particular way. What does work is where there is freedom to do something my way and the supervisor is an adviser.

What work environment best suits you?
Size doesn’t matter, but a good quiet office with good air circulation works best.

In what capacity do you work with others?
As an instructor, consultant, or presenter. I don’t have a typical subordinate-superior relationship with anyone at this time.

R.C.

What has been your past/present employment?
Am currently working at a hospital as a file clerk.

How did you find your current job?
Through Enable, Inc. [a Mass Rehab provider agency]

Any hints to help others be successful?
Educate people on Asperger’s. Difficult to disclose because it is a form of autism and turns too many people off.

What works in the way of supervision?
Nothing like close supervision. The less supervision the better. A compassionate boss is ideal.

What type of work environment is best?
A small, quiet work space is preferred.

In what capacity do you work with others?
My work is very solitary-though starting today I have someone who is helping me twice a week.

L.C.

What has been your past or present employment?
A physical therapist. I currently have my own practice, but have worked at various hospitals in the past.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Find a niche that you are good in, and not the most popular selection.

What works in the way of supervision?
What works is clear expectations, in writing, with project dates and available resources spelled out. What doesn’t work is job tasks given as “chatty asides” rather than clear directives, supervision that is either too intrusive or too vague.

What type of work environment is best?
Predictable size of physical space not really an issue as much as the number of people I have to work around or be in charge of. #2 more crucial than #1.

In what capacity do you work with others?
There are currently no co-workers or supervisors. The freedom to set rules for myself is wonderful. The downside is that I have to be compulsive about tracking the details of my work like making appointments, documentation, or insurance/billing. There is no one but me to do it.

N.K.

What has been your past or present employment?
Ice cream scooper and also a Barnes and Noble bookseller. Currently I am a library cataloguing assistant.

How have you gotten jobs in the past?
For the past jobs, these were found by window-shopping for help wanted signs. The fast-paced environments made me quit. The customer interaction was too intense. My library job was through a family connection. Here, I don’t have to handle customers, and have few time constraints to deal with. The slow-paced environment works better.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Look for something slow-paced, and are independent in how you choose to undertake each project. I find it helpful to work near others so as to not get too isolated, but work not directly with people. Social interaction should be optional and in a location where each person is engaged in individual work.

What works in the way of supervision?
No overbearing supervisors. Someone who explains the terms of the job and then backs off is best. But I’d like them available to answer questions or concerns. In my view, it is also good to look for someone who’s comfortable sharing details of their personal life, so that you would feel comfortable doing the same.

What type of work environment is best?
I prefer a small, quiet space with optional social interaction and the same people working there each day.

In what capacity do you work with others?
There should be about 20 feet between computer stations, but separate projects. “Groupwork” is intolerable to me.

J.S.

Past or present employment?
I worked as an airline pilot for US Airways.

How did you find this employment?
By applying on an application form specifically for pilots.

What works/doesn’t work in the way of supervision?
Because I was qualified to be a copilot for a specific aircraft, the captain is the supervisor. The captain sits at a desk at home base to deal with problems as they develop, and to implement policy. This worked fine for me.

What type of work environment is best?
Since my office is the cockpit, noise plays a big part. I wear headphones to listen to radio of the traffic controllers.

In what capacity do you work with others?
The environment helped in a big way for I almost never worked with the same person more than once or twice and I also traveled around a lot.

P.G.

What is your current employment?
I am laid off.

How have you gotten jobs in the past?
I have replied to ads in the paper, referrals from friends, and by just going to businesses to see if they need help.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Find work in a place where you are evaluated on your performance, not office politics.

What works in the way of supervision?
A boss that takes interest in your skills where they will move you away from other workers to avoid conflict. Being upfront about my condition works well for me.

What type of environment is best?
The two things about bigger companies is that the rules can easily be broken and a company person involves knowledge of what is permissible and what isn’t between the lines of the rule book. There is more accommodation for me in smaller companies.

In what capacity do you work with others?
With technical subjects, I can interact well with others. Trying to solve a situation where one person thinks they are right regardless of the result, is a recipe for disaster.

N.C.

What was your past and now your current employment?
I am currently working as a customer service/tech support phone rep. I previously worked as phone tech support and also in a factory.

How did you find these jobs?
The current one was from a newspaper classified ad, the one before was at a job fair.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Don’t go into the job expecting to be overwhelmed. Go into the job clear-headed, and to enjoy learning. Opening myself up to others also works well. This means introducing yourself to co-workers as soon as possible.

What works in the way of supervision?
A low-key, forgiving boss works well as opposed to the anxious, unforgiving type.

What type of environment is best?
Between working in a small office, and in a small, noisy factory, I’ve done well. The physical environment doesn’t matter as much as the social component.

In what capacity do you work with others?
I’ve had experience both as an instructor, explaining how to use a computer, and as a liaison, communicating between customers and vendors to get problems resolved. I have worked as part of a team. And in part because of this, I tend to latch on to topics. I will try to become an “expert” so that my co-workers can be confident to go to me to ask questions.

G.R.S., Jr.

What has been your past or current employment?
I work(ed) in a Textile Workers Pension Fund.

How did you find this job?
I sent a resume via fax

Any hints to help others be successful?
Explain to employers what the disability is.

What works in the way of supervision?
Someone who is available at all times, and is patient would be best.

What environment is best?
A quiet and relaxed one where I can work one-on-one at all times is best.

In what capacity do you work with others?
I have difficulty communicating and socializing, so very little. I am very uncomfortable around others.

G.B.-A.

What has been your past and current employment?
Currently I am a library assistant. Previously, I was a counselor at a day program for developmentally disabled adults, and a customer service representative at a bookstore, and a reference librarian at a small college.

How did you find these jobs?
My work was volunteer until I went to college where I held a number of fellowship related work study positions. After college, my jobs came through my work and research in autism and through circulating my resume.

Any hints to help others be successful?
Choose a job that you like and fits you.

What works in the way of supervision?
What works best for me is the system of macro-management. Let me know what is needed of me and then back off.

What environment is best?
The best is where my co-workers are supportive, open-minded, and secure in their positions.

In what capacity do you work with others?
I favor a collaborative one, but private enough to do my own thing.

A.

What has been your past or current employment?
I work as a part-time cashier at Stop and Shop. I have worked previously at a summer camp as a counselor for 7-10 year old boys for the past five summers.

How did you find these jobs?
I filled out applications at every place I could think of in the area that I would feel comfortable working in, and also asked if they were hiring.

What works in the way of supervision?
I would want a supervisor that knows about AS so as to not worry. I would also prefer a system where I can check on my progress from week to week to know what I need to improve upon before it becomes a problem.

What environment is best?
A small or large office that is noisy or quiet are fine. I can deal with some background noise, although I focus in on voices, talking and music. If I had to work in an office, I would choose a small one so I could get to know who I’m working with. If I’m not busy, I will shut down completely, so staying busy is a must.

In what capacity do you work with others?
At Stop and Shop, I might ask, or be asked a couple of questions, but that’s really it. At camp, I lived with co-counselors. In addition, we frequently interacted with the kids, and had meetings (minimum weekly) to talk about any concerns that we may have.

L.K.

What has been your past or current employment?
I worked at Emblem and Badge.

How did you find this job?
Through a very special friend.

Any hints to help others be successful?
You should read “Asperger Syndrome Employment Workbook..” You should also confide in those you trust, and ask people close to you to find jobs that fit your best qualities.

What works in the way of supervision?
People who stand over me and watch and ask too many questions won’t be tolerated. I need to be trusted, have space, and respected.

What type of work environment best suits you?
A medium office that’s semi-quiet with a pleasant background music best suits me.

In what capacity do you work with others?
Rude people bring out the worst in me and I quit my last job because of that. What works best are people who are considerate, quiet and don’t complain.

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