Friday 28 October 2011

Silly Questions and Going Up Mountains

What a busy week this has been at Autism Works, with software testing work we have been doing for contracts we have had coming in, as well as working on a major funding bid. Though 'busy' can sound like hard work, don't confuse it with the fun it can bring.

In among the software testing work that our Test Analysts are progressing with, which is done in a language that makes as much sense to me as Klingon, I have been doing some preparation work for some training that I am doing for the Connexions service next week. Preparation work, especially putting together Powerpoint presentations, I often find fun. In relation to the subject that I am developing the training around, something I found very enjoyable was looking for questions asked at job interviews that can be open to literal interpretation by a candidate with Asperger's Syndrome, or interview questions that either don't make sense or are just plain stupid, to give Connexions staff an idea of the difficulties that a candidate with Asperger's Syndrome can have during job interviews, before exploring reasonable adjustments.

When giving a seminar with Tony Attwood back in 2007, something that I remember him talking about was how the best comedy was the world seen through different eyes, including Asperger eyes. In the case of Asperger's Syndrome though, comedy can also be the result of doing what we are told quite literally or just through being comfortable with the truth. This can also apply to job interview questions. A friend of mine also diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome said that a difficulty she experienced at job interviews was being able to form a 'dishonest' answer, particularly when asked 'why do you want to work for us?'. The standard answer she said that she would give was along the lines of 'your company has a lot of drive and potential for growth', while a more honest answer she would give would be 'because I have been made redundant and need the money'!  

The Autumn 2011 edition of The Autism File includes an in depth interview with me in which I talk about how open or abstract questions can present problems for candidates with Asperger's Syndrome as well as how employers need to be flexible within their recruitment procedures to capture the unique skills and talent that candidates with Asperger's Syndrome can bring. In the interview I also talk about the development of Autism Works, including what we have managed to achieve so far in our relatively short history as well as what we hope to achieve. 

Interwoven with this interview is a feature article I have written about my experiences of trekking up mountains, focusing particularly on how I have found experience of constantly changing weather and conditions helpful in coping with change. Change in various shapes and forms is hard for many people with Asperger's Syndrome to cope with, including in working environments. What we must also realise though is that when, faced with change, is that before we can learn new ways we need to unlearn old ways. As much change occurs as a result of circumstances both social and natural, one cannot control it. Just by changing our relationship with it though, including how we think about it, can enable us to see the meaningfulness in it, rather than becoming stressed or anxious through resisting it. 

At Autism Works, we have had some really positive feedback about the company from this interview. I have been asked to do some more writing for future editions of The Autism File which should bring Autism Works more positive publicity. In the meantime though, to keep up to date with developments at Autism Works, stay tuned to this blog.  

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