10 Good Reasons to Hire a Person with Asperger's
Take heed to an Aspie in need
To an Aspie, nothing is more stressful than venturing into the unknown. When it comes to job interviews, most would rather swim with hungry - no, starving - piranhas than go through the process.
There are no known statistics for passing or failing that interview to get the job but, we might venture a guess the failure rate is high.
Do you know someone on the autism scale?
In the mind of an Aspie
Here is an example of what goes on in the mind of an Aspie
I finally got the call for an interview! I read the job description and I know I can do it all with ease.
My heart leaps with joy at the possibility of being hired - being accepted. I am so excited! I can do this.
I have the date and time written but I repeat it over and over in my head so I don't forget it.
The beginnings of dread start to creep in.
I need to make sure I know how to get there. I don't want to get lost.
Self-doubt. What if I they don't like the way I answer or say the wrong thing? What if they don't like me? How long will the interview be? It's okay. I think I can do this.
Day of interview: Dress professionally. What does that mean? What if they don't like the way I'm dressed? Comb hair, brush teeth - please don't get toothpaste on my shirt. Sorry sneakers, I have to wear my other shoes. I hate those shoes. They pinch my feet. But I really, really want to make a good impression. This will have to do.
I have to get going. I don't want to be late. Gotta find the darn place. Okay now I have to find parking and that's a big, unfamiliar building. Great! I'm gonna get lost in the building!
Receptionist - stranger danger - I have to ask her for help! I already sound like a bumbling idiot. Job interview - yeah, I'm a beggar. I can see the pity in your eyes. I think I hate you.
UGH! I can do this job. I should already have this job. Why do I have to go through this stupid process?!
Stay calm. Get to the Human Resources Department. Oh God - more people! Plaster on your "pleasant, happy face" but not too happy. Are my eyebrows right? Maybe I look like I have a worried face on. Relax face muscles, crinkle eyes, quirk mouth. Okay, that should be my confident, glad-to-be-here face. I feel the tension rising up and I want to hide.
I don't feel very confident. I am not glad to be here. Stay calm. Now I have to remember eye contact and a firm handshake. I hate this. I really, really hate this. How badly do I need this job anyway? Shoot - they called my name. Here goes - stay calm - deep breath - smile...
What to look for
Let's say the prospect doesn't say they have Asperger's. How would you know then?
Here are some clues:
- Very little eye contact
- or too much eye contact / staring
they're trying and took it too far.
fingers are twirling or they're twiddling a pen
or twisting their pants/skirt
- Slight rocking
it's a repetitive, comfort thing
- Stilted answers
they have a really hard time elaborating or talking about feelings
Just the facts: they can tell you what they're good at.
Ten really good reasons to hire
"In the mind of an Aspie" is just an example of the runaway train rumbling through an Aspie brain - and that is all prior to even meeting you.
So now you have this person sitting in front of you who, by outward appearances, seems calm and collected. You have no idea they are a wreck except for the slight rocking or finger or toe tapping. Their answers are a little stilted and there is something about this person that is just... slightly... off - but you can't put your finger on it. If you're lucky they confide, "I have Asperger's."
Most will never say it.
But let's just say that they do! Great. Time to switch gears and maybe have a different approach with this prospect. Time to think about the ten good reasons to hire a person with Asperger's.
- High Intelligence. They may not have a lot of experience but that, like most things, comes with training. Once they learn and get comfortable with the job they have a sense of ownership and will accomplish the task to the best of their ability. A good question to ask, "Do you have the ability to learn our rules and protocols?"
- Independent. By taking ownership of their job responsibilities they usually get to know all the nuances of the job. Don't be surprised if they find a way to streamline the process so they're not wasting their time. A side note: They don't question authority because of a lack of respect. There just has to be a very good reason behind any changes so they can make sense of it or argue against it. Don't take that personally!
- Attention to detail. What may seem mundane or unimportant to an average person, they will view as an integral part of the process because - well - it wouldn't be done unless the process needed it. Therein lies the gift - they are generally very good at troubleshooting a problem to get the job done. It's true - Aspies tend to "recreate the wheel" but this is how they learn and internalize so they can do the job with excellence.
- Literal. They generally say what they mean and mean what they say. Literal to a fault, they have a hard time "reading between the lines." If you need answers they will be direct. Sometimes this may come off as being rude, overbearing, or arrogant. It's not. If you asked be prepared for an answer.
- Loyal. Given half a chance to prove their abilities, they will prove their loyalty to you and your company time and again. They often go above and beyond the call of duty. It would be very easy to take advantage of this. Please realize you may have a diamond in the rough. Treat and pay them accordingly and you will have a very happy workhorse.
- Passionate. You may not have heard this word associated with Asperger's very often (if ever), but if you've got an Aspie on your team and you need to get a point across this is the person for you. They know the ins and outs, they come prepared and they will debate an issue until they are certain their point was made.
- Honesty. Being fair and just seems to be part of their DNA. Of course no one wants to get in trouble. Mistakes are made but chances are your Aspie employee will fess up to an error if they did it. It rankles their nerves if they are unjustly accused and not likely to tolerate a blanketed blame game. Money or sensitive material is not likely to disappear in their care.
- Routine. Your prospective recruit loves routine and repetition. If it seems tedious to most it probably is - except for someone who loves expected results and attention to detail.
- Team player. Yes, I said it. Team player. It's true that Aspies work well independently but that doesn't mean they must be in the basement on the hamster wheel or they fall apart. They have high expectations of their co-workers/team members and as long as everyone comes to the table prepared they are fine. In fact, if someone on the team is struggling, they may empathize and be inclined to take them under their wing. Who better to be a mentor than someone who lives in the trenches?
- Success. The fact that they are good at what they do and thrive in a positive atmosphere, don't be surprised if they climb their way to the top. Warning: they may be gunning for your job - but before that happens they have the potential to make you look really good.
It is not always easy working with someone on the autism scale. In fact, there are times when they will test your patience and wherewithal. As an employer you will have to make adjustments, think outside the box, find other ways to explain things, implement an ombudsman or work advocate, and be giving yet firm.
Now read that last paragraph again. You don't have to bend over backwards to accommodate an Aspie prospect but those adjustments would be beneficial company-wide. All you have to do is give them a chance.