Work Opportunity for Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum

Hi Everyone.

Link for work (please copy and paste):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/13xM34cW2S6PlW_OW5_-vYALnAjQ3BwJiUfqpg9GLUQU/edit

This post will be on my blog for a few days. After that you can best reach me through Facebook, in regards to this. I haven’t written in a while as I have moved homes! Feel free to share this on Facebook and Twitter, etc.

I hope to get back to writing soon. Thank you for all of your continued contact, support, and kind-hearted words.

I am a recruiting coordinator for ULTRA Testing. We are currently recruiting work-from-home, software testers. They are independent contractor positions, but can lead to full-time employment. Pay starts at $15 an hour. Here is the link with more information. Feel free to contact me. And thank you for your time.

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I have Aspergers

I have been asked to write a brief summary for a handout/flyer for an organization in the UK. This is the final draft, I think:

“The challenge with identifying one with a label or collective group is the identification leads to an undeniable risk of an individual being categorized, compared and boxed into one of many stereotypes. I am a person first. A mother second. A lover third. Aspergers is a part of my neurological condition, but it’s not me. People who identify themselves with being on the autistic spectrum are often targeted by others offering unsolicited help, advice and comparisons. We, as a sect, are perceived by some as incapable, weak or ‘not-normal,’ and definitely in need of fixing. The problem is we are too often compared to an established societal norm of what is true and right, when in our minds no such norm exits. Within the autistic community, many, if not most, view themselves as entirely capable of striving. Many are filled with compassion, empathy, a need to speak the truth and high-levels of fluid intelligence and creativity. With proper support and acceptance, a person with Aspergers can lead a fulfilling life. I have raised three healthy teenage boys and have at least a dozen people I would call close friends. I am not weak or less-than, nor am I ‘unhealthy’ in my communication or thoughts. And neither are most of the people I encounter on the spectrum. We are just different in the way we take in the world. The misconceptions that abound about those with autism are shifting, as more of us who have Aspergers share our stories. Not all of us need do this, as we are each uniquely endowed with our own gifts and callings. However, I am happy to be included amongst those that say, without hesitance, “I have Aspergers.” ~ Sam Craft, Everyday Aspergers

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Empathic Aspie

I take on other people’s emotions and experience.  I become them. I am empathic. I am pure. And I am a blank slate. At times, most times, I am a mirror to whom I am with. My interactions and choices of companionship affect my being. I become that which is before me. Time and time again, I transform intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally into what I am exposed to. I am much like the yogurt cultures hooked up to electrodes that respond electronically and energetically to the thoughts of the observer. Or, akin to the frozen water crystals that transform based on the word written and prescribed to them. I become that which is. I see this in all my relationships. Whether across the states or face-to-face, whether up close or through a mode of distant communication, I am affected. It makes no difference my present state. In any form in which I enter, I exit transformed. I am not me, except with a rare few who see me as me. And it is this rare few, who too, are mirrors, who too transform, who too see and watch themselves become what they are not, or perhaps what we all are.

No matter who I see, they see what they are. In visiting a shaman, he said to me I was a powerful shaman. That I was previously a ball of light. That I carried no baggage. That I was powerful. In seeing an astrologist, she said to me I was here for a purpose, that the stars aligned, that I had a powerful calling: that of an empath, teacher and healer. That there was no denying this. In seeing a Buddhist psychologist, he said to me I was an enlightened genius. In each case, each without knowing, projected onto me the way they viewed their own self. I became a mere reflection. I became a viewpoint—that transcendental lookout.

In less formal meetings, I become, too, what is before me. If a friend is angry, spiteful, and holding a grudge, I take on these states of beings. I shift instantly, and having harnessed such emotions, I begin to apply the emotions to my own life. To piece together what I am feeling to make logical sense. Suddenly, when there had been no such thought before, I am remembering my own spite and upset, and I am connecting what is felt to what has seemingly caused the upset. I am reversing my typical logic and instead of going from A to B, going from B to A. In reverse, I am dissecting my history to make sense of my present. This is one way I know when I am picking up on someone else, and not my self—for I am not proceeding from cause/source to reaction, but experiencing reaction and then searching for cause/source. It’s the opposite of being triggered, in which there is a direct obstacle, event, or circumstance that has set me aflame internally. Here, there is the counter-experience, of having the flame, and searching within to understand the feasible reasons for the fire.

I, in being the way of the mirror, become more-or-less the subject before me. Be this through intellectual conversing, close connection, or something else, regardless I am penetrated. And there is no boundary. No protection. No barrier. Distance makes no difference, nor does the mode of contact. The instant messaging can affect me as much as a long, drawn out conversation. I can feel the other as pricks and pins. I can feel the other as a heavy weight on my chest. I can feel what is inside another and feel it on my body. I can take on the exact physical and emotional pain. I can develop symptoms: rashes, lack of mobility, acute pain, allergies. All which are that of the carrier who has crossed my path. I can pick up on the past, the present, and sometimes the future. I can see, at times, illness or malnourishment. I can see hopes and pains. And I can especially see fear.

The worst is the unspoken words I hear. The lines that vary from what is spoken—wave lengths of what I sense that are in contrast to what is shared. I can hear what is hidden and I can hear what is buried. I can feel the person judging me and feeling me out, as tentacles from the octopus or giant squid spread out, retracted and then flung forward into the depths of me. I can feel myself being dissected and observed. And I feel the thoughts of the one that isn’t me entering and exploring. I feel the argument before it is said. And I sense the contradictions before spoken. I know. I just know. And this knowing comes in gathered strings and unraveling twine; a web of sorts broken apart and about to reform.

I deny this all, in moments, as the happenings themselves leave me exhausted in the thoughts of how and why. It is easier at times to claim myself delusional or incorrect than to face such a process of living. Each expectation is felt. Each motivation. Each intention. I know the foundation of what the other is thinking. And some, more so most, are not ready or wanting to know. And I, for the most part, am not wanting to tell. It’s not my business. Nor is it my wish to see. And yet I am left spinning in a whirlwind of another, wanting to escape the ‘me’ they have made me, or I have allowed myself to become.

I leave not knowing myself, and at times feeling the worst over what I had become. I doubt my own existence and substance. I think I am what they are. Trapped in the illusion of the other, I wonder who I am. I doubt my genuineness and purity. I doubt I know the answers of self. And I begin to think I no longer understand anything about the being I am.

I come out of it untarnished, but exhausted. I return to my norm, which is very much level and at peace. I exist without the drama and without the immediacy and urgency that seemingly haunts most of humanity. There is no longer a rush, a need, a desire; there is just me. And I am at peace, returned to my self and state of being. Here I am at my best: in the alcove of solitude. Without the interactions of the world treading upon my esteem, here I am untouched and bathed in grace. Here I am free, until the next passerby touches down and finds me as himself. And I am left lost, running a race without realizing my legs are still.

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Talkative and Tired

The Department of Neuropsychiatry at Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo found that individuals with Aspergers have higher fluid reasoning ability than typical individuals and have a superior fluid intelligence. I have a high fluid reasoning ability and fluid intelligence. Give me a random object and I will tell you 100 things you can do with it in a few minutes. Coming up with ideas and thinking out of the box is easy for me. I see things at multiple levels and view multiple ways situations and circumstances can be adapted and made better. I am an expert ‘fixer.’

As I see things so rapidly, I try to find balance and keep my mouth shut, even as my mind is going a thousand miles an hour with ideas. This is one of the reasons it’s hard for me to work for someone (work) or to problem solve with people (teamwork). And another reason I’d rather write than speak.

In a state of increased thought, if I open my mouth, I come across as a know-it-all. Or I am over-emotional and use the wrong words and may seem baffled, unclear, or unsure. I exaggerate. I speak in extremes. I forget all the communication rules of right and wrong. I become more and more ‘Aspie.’ I become frustrated. I become aggravated. I react and act in a way I am not proud of. I feel overwhelmed and I overwhelm.

Then some react to me, thinking I want attention or to be right, or they assume I have a plan or agenda or outcome. But I don’t. I am the way I am because I have to get the ideas out of me in order to function. In order to breathe. I let go of the toxins in my mind by verbally processing. If I can’t, something builds up within and I can’t concentrate.

I have slowly learned ways to adapt. I have stopped giving personal advice, almost entirely. I will gladly share my experience but not offer out solutions to others. I just don’t anymore. It doesn’t feel right or good. But I still run into trouble when I have a job to do, especially one that requires research, creating, or educating. I just don’t know when to stop, what my boundaries are, and what is really needed and not needed. Everything seems urgent and important. And all these cool connections and ideas formulating in my head seem necessary to share.

And so it is with much effort that I still struggle to understand the concepts of ‘too much’ and ‘overboard’ and the ‘last word,’ and so much more.

I grow tired again and again. ~ Sam, Everyday Aspergers

Interviewing Individuals with Aspergers Syndrome

1. When interviewing candidates-for-hire on the autistic spectrum, either remotely or face-to-face, individuals may appear as one of two extremes: 1) overly confident with an almost false persona or 2) extremely nervous and apologetic.
2. Rarely, during an interview, is a person with Aspergers/autism feeling at ease and content and able to present a comfortable version of self. This is not an attempt to fool or falsify self, but instead an effort to try to blend in and be part of the ‘norm.’ This is a result of a strong intrinsic desire to meet others’ expectations in order to fit in and avoid ridicule or miscommunication.
3. Without a rulebook or list of how to act in a specific role, in this case as interviewee, the candidate can present as anxious, tense, aloof, frightened and/or extremely nervous.
4. Partaking in an interview can cause extreme stress for days before the interview. The interview process will more than likely be over-thought and imagined repeatedly with multiple outcomes and scenarios. The candidate on the spectrum will typically relive the actual interview itself repeatedly after the event.
5. What might appear as a simple ‘not a fit’ or ‘no thank you’ to the potential employer or company can be devastatingly emotionally (and sometimes physically) crushing to a person with Aspergers. He or she will commonly obsess over the reasons he or she ‘failed’ and quite possibly catastrophize the outcome, incorporating all-or-nothing thinking, and self-torture, in the form of repetitive, obsessive thoughts regarding the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs.’
6. During the hiring process, the participant with Aspergers might be set at ease with frankness, direct instructions, consistent reassurance, and clear expectations and goals. While such measures might seem as special treatment or deemed as ‘making exceptions,’ when given the fact that Aspergers is primarily centered around social challenges, taking such measures to decrease social anxiety caused by socializing and communication barriers ought to be considered an essential priority in recruitment.
7. Knowing exact timelines and being exposed to consistent communication can alleviate all candidates’ stress levels, but this is particularly true for people on the spectrum. The sense of unpredictability and not-knowing can overcome and consume a person with Aspergers, and this consumption will directly affect their relations with others and behavior/actions until resolved. In addition, sudden time changes, tardiness, and rescheduling on the company’s part can lead to candidates experiencing increased stress levels, panic, and nervousness.
8. Before an interview occurs, individuals with Aspergers, particularly females on the spectrum, will create scenarios in their mind of failure, miscommunication, and the fear of not being able to express their true intentions and true self. They often have a fear of not appearing genuine and honest enough. Much time is spent wanting to be the best she can be. As of such, females on the spectrum, and some males, will be their own worse judge, critic and enemy, dissecting behaviors and speech, and even analyzing the purity and honesty of their thoughts based on self enforced rules of conduct.
9. Oftentimes the individual with Aspergers will want to be seen, heard and understood. As of such, it is commonplace for both genders on the spectrum to over share and give information that the interviewer many not deem appropriate, necessary or beneficial. Most individuals on the spectrum will in fact share thoughts and insights to their own detriment, unable to stop the need to be transparent and forthcoming. While the observer might find this refreshing and/or curious, the candidate will often feel baffled and embarrassed by his or her own actions, feeling once again he or she has revealed too much and not followed the ‘correct’ rules.
10. The candidate with Aspergers will wish to have a chance to process with the interviewer as soon as possible to know exactly and specifically ways to improve presentation and more so self. For this reason, in some cases if opportunity allows, the candidate with Aspergers will benefit from careful explanation regarding the reasons why he or she wasn’t hired or considered for further recruitment.
11. As individuals on the spectrum do indeed have special needs and comorbid conditions such as OCD, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress, and aforementioned patterns of thinking that create a type of self-badgering, it is vital for companies hiring people on the spectrum to be sensitive to the possible emotional and behavioral effect the interview process has on candidates on the spectrum. They simply are not going to respond like most neurotypical candidates. What might take a neurotypical person a week to overcome, might take the person with Aspergers years. Often events, particularly a sense of failure, become ingrained in the psyche of a person on the spectrum for a lifetime. While it is impossible for companies to take measures to consistently provide potential candidates reassuring feedback after an interview, it is plausible that interviewers be trained in measures to take to prevent further trauma.
12. While some individuals on the spectrum prefer phone calls without face-to-face correspondence others will feel more comfortable with a face-to-face video conference. As social interaction is the main challenge for people with Aspergers, ideally a company will be sensitive to how communication needs vary from each individual. There is no one way that is best as each on the spectrum is unique in his or her challenges and level of social comfort. Some will have little to no trouble expressing self in various communication venues, but the large majority will have specific triggers to communication that can bring on various outcomes, including panic attacks, insomnia, inconsolable anxiety, and nonstop rapid thinking.
13. While the individual is undergoing an interview, he or she will often be acutely self-aware and preoccupied by his or her own nervousness and internal coaching. He will simultaneously be experiencing two conversations—one that is shared aloud between the interviewer and interviewee and one that is internal dialogue. Often the internal voice will overshadow the external conversation and gaps of time in the interview will be lost. What might appear as behavior on the interviewee’s part that denotes not being present or distracted is typically the individual attempting to balance the internal voice with the external interview.
14. It is suitable and advisable for the interviewer to provide ample time for restating questions, reassuring statements and redirecting the candidate with ideas and positive input.
15. Candidates on the spectrum will sometimes panic with open-ended questions, as most are very quick thinkers able to connect dots at rapid speed and reach multiple conclusions in a matter of seconds. While deliberating over a question, the candidate is also contemplating about what the interviewer expects, wants, and is hinting at. The more specific and direct a question is the better.
16. Some candidates will give quick, short, abrupt answers and be mistaken for non-personable and not forthcoming, while others will overstate, be long-winded and go ‘on and on.’ This tendency for over-sharing or being short will also be present in written documents, such as resumes. It is often difficult for a person on the spectrum to judge when written word and spoken word is deemed ‘enough’ by the observer.
17. Efforts to clarify, probe and retrieve more ‘substantial’ information might cause further panic.
18. In most cases people on the spectrum communicate better in written form with time to process, rethink and edit thoughts and ideas. When possible, some type of written form ought to be utilized during recruitment screening, such as an essay or instant messaging service.
19. People with Aspergers are used to being judged, ridiculed and told how to fix their behavior. People on the spectrum are often subjected to unsolicited advice, tips and direction their whole lives. It is best not to offer assistance or help, or a point of view, unless asked.