"I want to better understand one of my employees who has Asperger Syndrome. He is a valued member of our company, but without going into detail here, we're currently having some issues that will need to be resolved. Let's just say that the relationship he has with some of the other coworkers is conflicted. Any tips for providing the best working environment for this gentleman?"
Due to misunderstanding their behavior, adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can be seen as selfish, egoistic, cold, ridged or uncaring by their co-workers. This kind of labeling is based on ignorance (i.e., lack of information) and has nothing to do with behaving inappropriately on purpose.
HFA adults are neurologically less able to see things from the other person’s point of view. They are frequently told by their peers (or partners) that their actions or remarks are considered painful or rude, which often comes as a shock to them since they were never aware of this in the first place.
Nonetheless, many – if not most – HFA adults are able to work in mainstream jobs successfully. Their focus and knowledge on specific topics - as well as their good eye for detail - can help them succeed in their career field. In pursuit of their preoccupations, HFA adults can develop sophisticated reasoning and an almost obsessive focus on their subject of interest, turning them into specialists in their line of work. One (of many) common career option in HFA adults is engineering since they can be fascinated with technology.
In any event, HFA adults should focus their energy on their strengths rather than on their weaknesses. They should simply do what they are good at – and organize the rest!
There are some work-related issues that will not be supportive of the Aspergers or HFA employee. These are listed below:
- Absence of visualized work plan’s or schedules
- Appointments that are not kept
- Attending meetings
- Authority figures that push them around
- Co-workers need for small talk
- Customers that will keep changing their order
- Irresponsible behavior of the boss or co-workers
- Making deadlines while depending on others to contribute to the work
- Members of the team breaking rules and regulations
- Obligation to interact with co-workers
- Obligation to plan their work
- Sharing a room with co-workers who keep talking to each other or on the phone
- Sudden changes in plans of the company
- The lack of punctuality in their boss or co-workers
- The obligation to put your thoughts and ideas into a written report
- The way colleagues or their boss do not see the important details
- Unannounced changes in company policy
- Working in an office with bright lights, background music, or phones that keep ringing
- Working together as a team
So your tip is this: As much as possible, try to accommodate your Aspergers employee by eliminating or reducing some of the non-supportive scenarios listed above. With a little help and understanding, HFA adults can lead a fulfilling life, professionally as well as personally.
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