Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise?
Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile.

The Workplace Bullying of Autistic Employees

Victims of workplace bullying can suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression and physical ailments associated with chronic stress (e.g., high blood pressure, migraines, stomach troubles, heart disease, etc.).  Studies also show that when under constant stress, people are less able to regulate their emotions, to concentrate, and to make decisions, which may make people perform their job poorly. 

If you are the victim of workplace bullying, here are 15 empowering strategies to consider:

1. Check your mental health with a qualified therapist. Get emotionally stable enough to make a clear-headed decision to stay and fight, or to leave for your health's sake. Your Autism Spectrum Disorder makes you vulnerable. However, don’t agree to be treated by a therapist who doesn’t believe your experience, and who simply wants to change you so that you won’t trigger similar reactions from future bullies.

2. No one is responsible for being bullied, for inviting agony upon himself or herself. Some employers want a catfight between employees so that they can blame it on "personality conflict." Hold their feet to the fire. Expose the bully. Demand changes (“for the sake of the company”).

3. Don’t ask others to make the bully stop for your sake. They will disappoint you. Instead, make the “business case” and ask them to stop bullying for “their own” self-interests.

4. Don’t confide in anyone at your place of employment until he or she has demonstrated loyalty to you.

5. Don’t limit your decisions to act in ways that sacrifice personal integrity and health just to survive to make a paycheck. Survival techniques alone create even more severe, long-term health and career problems. If the company won’t change, plan your escape.

6. Don’t pay a retainer to an attorney until you've exhausted cheaper alternatives to get your boss to take your complaints seriously.

7. Don’t share your “documentation of bullying episodes” with anyone at work. No one cares as much as you do. In the wrong hands, it will probably be used against you.

8. Don’t tell your tale from a purely emotional-injury angle. It scares away potential supporters. Stay objective. If you drift into emotional stories about the psychological damage from the bully's maltreatment, you will be discounted and discredited.

9. Don’t try to reinvent yourself as Rambo. If you would have been able to be “cutthroat,” you would have done that already. You don’t need to mimic the unethical bully to counter his or her wrongdoing.

10. Don’t wait for the impact of bullying to fade over time. Harassment must be stopped for the effects on you to stop.

11. Give your boss one chance. If he or she sides with the bully because of personal friendship or rationalizes the harm inflicted on you, you need to leave the job for your health's sake. However, some bosses are looking for reasons to purge their very difficult bully. You’re their internal consultant with the necessary information. Help good bosses purge.

12. Hold your boss accountable for putting you in harm's way. It is not your responsibility as a victim to “fix” the bullshit you didn’t start. Employers control the work environment. When you’re injured as a result of exposure to workplace bullying, make the boss own his or her responsibility to remedy the situation.

13. Make a case that the bully is "too expensive to keep." Present some data to let the highest level person you can reach know about the bully's impact on the company (of course, this is impossible in a family-owned business or small businesses – so leave once targeted).

14. Research state and federal legal options (in a quarter of bullying cases, discrimination plays a role). Talk to an attorney. Look for internal policies (e.g., harassment, violence, respect) for violations to report.

15. If needed, take control of your departure from the company. Statistically speaking, you have about a 60% chance of losing your job once targeted by bullies. Exposing the bully is more about your mental health than being an effective way to get the bully fired. Since you’re likely to leave once you’re targeted, leave by telling everyone what happened to you – and by whose hands. Tell everyone about the petty tyrant for your health's sake. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You were only doing the job you once loved. Those who leave proudly and confidently bounce back the fastest!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Meltdowns in Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Grown-ups with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) may be prone to rage (sometimes referred to as a “meltdown”), which can be made worse by difficulty in communicating feelings of disturbance, anxiety or distress.

Rage may be a common reaction experienced when coming to terms with problems in employment, relationships, friendships and other areas in life affected by autism spectrum disorders. There is often an “on-off” quality to this rage, where the person may be calm minutes later after a meltdown, while people around are stunned and may feel hurt. Neurotypical spouses (i.e., not on the spectrum) often struggle to understand these meltdowns, with resentment and bitterness often building up over time. Once they understand that their AS or HFA partner has trouble controlling rage, they can often begin to respond in ways that will help to manage these meltdowns.

In some cases, the “Aspie” may not acknowledge he has trouble with rage, and will blame others for provoking him. This can create a lot of conflict in a marriage. It may take carefully phrased feedback and plenty of time for the AS or HFA individual to gradually realize he has a problem with how he expresses his frustration.

A good place to start in controlling meltdowns is to identify a pattern in how the rage-attacks are related to specific frustrations. Such triggers may originate from the environment, specific people, or internal thoughts. Identifying the cause of rage can be a challenge. It is important to consider all possible influences relating to (a) how well you are treated by those around you, (b) the environment (e.g., too much stimulation, lack of structure, change of routine, etc.), (c) your mental state (e.g., existing frustration, confusion, etc.), and (d) your physical state (e.g., pain, tiredness, etc.).

Common causes of rage incidents among AS and HFA adults may include the following:
  • Other people’s behavior (e.g., insensitive comments)
  • Intolerance of imperfections in others
  • Having routines and order disrupted
  • Difficulties with employment despite being intelligent in many areas
  • Difficulties with relationships 
  • Build-up of stress
  • Being swamped by multiple tasks 
  • Being overwhelmed by sensory stimulation

Steps to managing rage:

1. Avoid situations which are associated with a high risk of becoming outraged.

2. Be aware of situations. Become more aware of the situations which are associated with you becoming outraged. Ask other people who know you to describe situations and behaviors they have noticed.

3. Become motivated. Identify why you would like to manage rage more successfully. Identify what benefits you expect in everyday living from eliminating rage incidents from your life.

4. Become self-aware. Become more aware of personal thoughts, behaviors and physical states which are associated with rage. This awareness is important in order for you to notice the early signs of becoming outraged. Write down a list of changes you notice as you begin to “meltdown.”

5. Consider Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT).

6. Develop a “rage-management” record. Keep a diary or chart of situations that trigger rage. List the situation, the level of rage on a scale of 1 to 10 – and the coping strategies that help you to overcome or reduce feelings of rage.

7. Explain to another person how they can be of help to solve the problem.

8. Explore the benefits of using medication with a doctor or psychiatrist.

9. Find anger-control classes in your area.

10. Keep a record. As you become more aware of situations associated with rage, you can keep a record of events, triggers and associated levels of rage. Different levels of rage can be explored (e.g., mildly annoyed, frustrated, irritated, higher levels of rage).

11. Leave the situation if possible.

12. Make changes to routines and surroundings (e.g., avoid driving in peak hour traffic).

13. Phone a friend or family member to talk about the cause of rage.

14. Plan ways to become distracted from the stressful situation (e.g., carry a magazine).

15. Reduce levels of rage by using the “Stop/Think strategy.” When you notice thoughts running through your mind: (a) stop and think before reacting to the situation (e.g., “are these thoughts accurate/helpful?”), (b) challenge the inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts, and (c) create a new thought.

16. Try relaxation strategies.

17. Try self-talk methods.

18. Use creative physical activity techniques to reduce rage.

19. Use visual imagery (e.g., jumping into a cool stream takes the heat of rage away).

20. Never give up. You can learn to “be at peace” with enough practice.

You can make use of these techniques when you notice yourself becoming outraged, and therefore avoid becoming extremely upset. But always keep in mind that this may not be possible 100% of the time. For situations where you feel you can’t control your rage – have a personal safety plan in place.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Hard to say,, but if so, there is plenty of hell available... No need to have anxiety nowadays. it might not be,, I do not have Aspergus (my father does), but I have the exact same problems as you. Aspergus is more not being able to have Empathy, or seeing only one point of view. Also are you extremely clever and obsessed with the one thing.
•    Anonymous said... I really like this page. It has helped me with my anxiety as a person with aspergers.. Thanks
•    Anonymous said... So, I have a question about autism/aspergers. My difficulties/disabilities are having severe panic attacks, agoraphobia, and a VERY hard time having eye contact or maintaining eye contact with other people. Just the thought of crowded places or having a conversation with someone outside my family/social circle makes me anxious. Does this sound anything like aspergers, or no?
•    Anonymous said... What's the worst is when you clearly communicate what you need to people + they ignore it. Like if I need to leave because I'm overstimulated + the person I came with wants to stay. Or I'm riding with someone + need them to slow down or turn down the music but they disregard me. People can be so dismissive. I struggle with this one A LOT. I've mastered my emotions much better than I was young but it takes all my strength not to melt down sometimes.

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Organization Skills for Autistic Adults

"I have Aspergers (high functioning), depression and insomnia. I don't know where to start. My desk is covered with paper, and I put off the hard part until I get in trouble and have to find it and do it. I take Adderall 45mg, and Ativan to sleep. I am overwhelmed. Now I have to go do something before I leave work. Can you give me any tips on how to get organized?"

It’s a rare “Aspie” who doesn’t feel unorganized. Are you ready to get organized? Here are some of the best organization skills, edited for brevity and consistency:

1. Always have a back-up. People will pay $1,000 to hear speakers at a conference and only have one pen to take notes. It’s a great feeling when one thing breaks, gets lost, or runs out of power, and you have another one in reserve!

2. Clean as you go. This habit is effective because it's much easier to clean things as you work or as you move through your day than to let them pile up and do a big cleaning session later. For example, if you're cooking, try to wash your dishes as you use them, and wipe the counter, instead of leaving a huge mess. 

3. Delegate. Learn to trust people with critical tasks in all areas of your life. When you learn to effectively delegate tasks, you actually find that it is easier to keep the stuff you can't delegate better organized.

4. Divide materials into red, yellow, blue and green plastic file folders. For example, anything that has to be done today (e.g., bills to be mailed) goes in the red folder. Anything that needs to be done sometime before the week ends goes in the yellow folder ...and so on.

5. Do one thing at a time.

6. Do the most important thing NOW!

7. Don't Put It Off! If you procrastinate, you'll only get stressed out when you think about that hateful "to do" item on your list. You'll blow it out of proportion in your mind and it will become almost impossible to accomplish. Make sure you tackle the largest or most disliked job first, dividing it up into manageable tasks. Then the other jobs will be a breeze!

8. Have a place for each item in your life. Where do your car keys go? You should have one place for them and you'll never lose them again. Where do your pens go? How about your magazines? 

9. Have only one inbox for home and one for work. Many people have many more than that -- paper comes to their desk and lands in a number of places. Phone messages get placed everywhere. Notes to self are posted all over the place. Instead, have one inbox, and put all incoming stuff in there. Then, once a day, process the inbox to empty. Take an item out of the inbox and decide what to do with it, right away: toss it, delegate it, file it, put it on your to-do list, or do it now. Do the same thing to the next item, until your inbox is empty. Don't defer these decisions for later.

10. Keep a “to-do” list that syncs with your mobile phone so you can add stuff as you remember it. And make sure every item has a due date.

11. Reduce before organizing. The mistake most people make when trying to organize their stuff, tasks or projects is that they have a whole mess of things to organize, and it's too complicated. If you have a closet crammed full of stuff, sure, you can buy a bunch of closet organizers, but in the end, you'll still have a closet crammed full of stuff. Same thing with time management: you can organize a packed schedule, but it'll still be crammed full of tasks. The solution: reduce, eliminate, simplify.

12. Schedule Fun Time! Make sure you include some personal time for YOU. Allot some time in your agenda. Make an appointment for yourself and keep it, even if it's only a leisurely 20 minute bubble bath or a 15 minute walk in the fresh spring air!

13. Set a time limit to each phone call and make sure you tell your caller. That way you save yourself the stress of trying to end the phone call -- and it also helps the caller to condense the information they want you to hear.

14. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

15. The single, simplest thing you can do to stay personally organized is to put whatever tool, item, clothing, bag, hairbrush etc., away immediately after using it. 

16. Too much time is wasted every day on searching for things. Find a system that works for you and your lifestyle and apply it. Use it religiously and you'll find new time slots you never thought you had!

17. Unapologetically take control of your time and priorities.

18. Use “waiting time” wisely (e.g., at the dentist, meeting with your boss, waiting for your roast to cook, etc.) to catch up on reading or planning, or use the time for tidying up, filing or other tasks.

19. Use the recycling bin/trash basket. Organizing unnecessary items is wasted energy. 

20. Write down and make mental notes of your top 3 tasks to get done for the day. Everything else will fall into place if you do that.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Get and Keep a Job: 33 Tips for Autistic Adults

Having trouble keeping a job? If so, then this article is for YOU...

Many adults with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are looking for work – and bosses are looking for good workers. A good employee is hard to find. Here is how to be that good employee (even if you have an autism spectrum disorder) who the boss will not ever want to let go of.

33 Tips for AS and HFA adults on how to get and keep a job: 

1. Accept responsibility and do not “pass the buck.”

2. Always finish an assignment, no matter how much you would rather be doing something else. It is always good to have something to show for the time you have spent.

3. Always practice good communication skills and professional telephone courtesy.

4. Always show consistent businesslike attitude with co-employees and superiors; treat internal customers with as much respect as external customers.

5. Always try to improve work by organizing materials, keeping work area clean, utilizing time efficiently, trying to work quickly yet accurately, being able to work well under pressure, and making sure assignments or projects are turned in on time.

6. Anticipate problems and needs of management. Your boss will be grateful, even if he doesn’t show it.

7. Avoid backstabbing, office gossip, and spreading rumors. Remember, what goes around comes around. Joining in the office gossip may seem like the easy thing to do, but almost everyone has much more respect - and trust - for people who do not spread stories around.

8. Avoid the impulse to criticize your boss or the company. It is easy to find things wrong with others. It is much harder, but more rewarding, to find constructive ways to deal with problems. Employees who are known for their good attitude and helpful suggestions are the ones most often remembered at performance evaluation and raise review time.

9. Be a team player. The employees who don't get along well with others, who gossip about other employees, or who aren't willing to pitch in to help, aren't going to be appreciated.

10. Flexibility is a key component of hanging on to your job. When the company needs someone to change shifts, work weekends, put in some overtime, or work a different schedule, think about volunteering if your personal schedule permits.

11. The employees who are late to work, take a long lunch hour, use a ton of sick time, and/or leave early every day aren't going to win any points with their boss. Be punctual and be there, instead of making excuses for why you can't be at work.

12. Negativity is contagious, but so is a positive attitude. The more you stay positive, even if you're in a tough situation, the better you'll be able to manage.

13. Call in if you know you will be tardy or absent. Most businesses treat absences or tardiness without notice much more seriously than simple absence or tardiness.

14. Pick out one or more things in your job to do better than anyone else. Become known as the "go-to" person for such things. That will help managers remember you favorably at times when you really need to be remembered.

15. Do not give orders to others unless possessing the authority to do so. Co-employees don’t appreciate a bossy attitude.

16. Don’t be a “clock watcher.”

17. Don’t be a “know-it-all;” respect the ideas of others, and acknowledge their merit. And always give a “thank you” to those who have helped out.

18. Nobody likes complainers, regardless of how legitimate the complaints are. If you don't like your job, there are plenty of other people who would jump at the chance to get it. When the job market is as upside down in the employer’s favor as it is now, be really careful about complaining.

19. Follow the rules. The rules are there to give the greatest number of people the best chance of working together well and getting the job done.

20. Get important things in writing – don’t rely on what other people have said.

21. Even if you hate your job, keep it to yourself and your family or close friends. Don't tell the world, because the wrong person is probably going to see what you posted. That, in and of itself, can cost you your job.

22. Learn to accept criticism and learn from mistakes. Don’t hold grudges. Be a good loser, and do not display a bad attitude when your ideas are not utilized.

23. Learn to listen without interruption, particularly if instructions are being given – and learn to follow instructions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is not understood.

24. Make the job work for YOU. Is there anything you could be doing differently to make the job work? Could you ask for a transfer or a shift change? Is there anything that would make a difference and convince you to stay?

25. Offer to help. One of the best ways to get (or keep) job security is to volunteer for new initiatives, to offer to help with projects, and to take on more responsibility.

26. Pay attention to dress, hygiene, body language, and manners. 

27. Respect people for their good qualities, even though they may have faults.  Find the good in everyone. 

28. Never let yourself be heard uttering minority-related slurs or other derogatory terms in reference to yourself or to others. Use of such terms perpetuates undesirable stereotypes and inevitably disturbs others. It also tends to make others doubt your maturity and competence. The best way to get respect is to show respect toward yourself and others.

29. Tough it out. Maybe it's not your favorite job. Maybe you would rather be doing something else. However, it is a paycheck – and if you need the income, it can make sense to stay until you secure a new position.

30. Try to avoid ever saying "that’s not my job". Many, if not most, managers earned their positions by doing work turned down by co-employees who were in the habit of saying that, and they appreciate employees who help get the job done, whatever it is.

31. Try to save the company money by conserving materials and supplies.

32. Take a close look at people in your organization who are "moving up." Chances are they are the ones who have shown themselves in the past to be willing to do undesirable assignments or take on new duties.

33. Most bosses don't mind a little time spent on Facebook or texting, but do focus on your job and give your boss the time you're getting paid for. When it comes to making lay-off decisions, the most productive employees will get to keep the job.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples