Category Archives: Work

Employable Me – BBC documentary series: Review

The BBC documentary series “Employable Me” features a bunch of job seekers with neurological/developmental disorders such as autism / Asperger syndrome, Tourette syndrome and Down Syndrome, as they strive to overcome unemployment. The series aims to show the people behind the first impressions, and dispel the myth that people with neurological conditions are unemployable.

 

Photo from Employable Me: Ashley (Aspergers) handshakes potential employer in work trial in Auction hall
Ashley on work trial in auction hall
Credit: BBC

 
A total of 10 job seekers features in the 7 episodes*:

• Paul (52) has Tourette’s, and Brett (34) is autistic
• Tom (27) has Tourette’s, and Ashley (29) has Asperger syndrome
• Ellie (23) has Tourette’s, and Ben (27) has Asperger syndrome
• Thomas (25) has autism
• Louisa (40) has Asperger syndrome
• Zena (25) has Down Syndrome
• Matthew (27) has Down syndrome

The participants are all unique and different from each other, yet the conditions divide them into broad categories of shared challenges. Continue reading

Goodbye face to face interviewer job

My face to face interviewer job ended last year. Rounding off the saga, I’d like to summarise what it was about, and speculate about why, overall, it worked well.

I was quite good at the job, and feel I’ve learned a lot, even though the work was quite repetitive. My boss was happy about my work and communication, and I had plenty of positive feedback from respondents both directly and through the quality control procedures. My response rates were also pretty good – not remarkable compared to the average, but good factoring in that my home range was supposedly hard to get decent results in. I was praised for the quality of my submitted work – data forms and weekly reports – for high accuracy, good order, and entertaining weekly reports.

 
Australian road from front window of car

 
The job ended because my employer had lost their tender for the project, so they had to close the whole project department down and sack everyone involved in the project… That’s all the interviewers, the office staff, and even my lovely boss.

If was a much bigger collapse for some of the other people, than it was for me. The staff turnover was notoriously low among both the office staff and the interviewer crew, and some had been working on the project for  well over a decade – almost since the beginning.

The organisation is the best employer I’ve had, and they handled the close-down well too. There was a proper explanation of what had happened (as much as they knew), scenario-thinking and instructions for what was and wasn’t allowed if moving to the competitor, and there was the usual supportive attitude underpinning the process. My boss also gave everybody her personal email and phone number, so future employers could still contact her for recommendations when she would no longer be working there.
Continue reading

Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum: a Book Review

Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum: What You Need to Know to Move Into a Place of Your Own, Succeed at Work, Start a Relationship, Stay Safe, and Enjoy Life as an Adult on the Autism SpectrumLiving Independently on the Autism Spectrum: What You Need to Know to Move Into a Place of Your Own, Succeed at Work, Start a Relationship, Stay Safe, and Enjoy Life as an Adult on the Autism Spectrum by Lynne Soraya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★

Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum is an instruction manual for adulthood written for high functioning autistic adolescents and adults.

The book systematically goes through all the major milestones an adult must meet in order to achieve and maintain independence, and explains how to learn the skills & carry out the tasks involved step for step, while addressing the aspects that autism tends to make extra difficult.

Soraya starts with the internal psychological foundation for being an independent individual: like self-advocacy, self-awareness, boundaries, social communication and managing emotions; and then moves onto the external aspects of an independent life such as how to find and afford a home; how to budget, how to get around; be safe, plan a career and get a job, how to navigate a workplace; how to make good friends and be a good friend, as well as dating and long term relationships.

The book is well organised, specific, constructive, pragmatic, easy to read and full of useful references to assist with further learning. I find it extremely useful. I read it because I hoped to get a better overview over all the practical adulthood skills I’m supposed to master long ago;-), get a better understanding of workplace dynamics and good social scripts for various situations, and that is precisely what the books gives.

I also think it may be a useful read for any adolescent (whether autistic or not) looking to move away from their family; as well as many adults who don’t feel they have the full grasp of all the skills demanded of grown-ups.

 
Highlights: the aspects I liked best:

  • Self-awareness : “strange engine noises” as a metaphor for detecting signs of overload before it is too late
  • Learning about people: people watching and all its (entertaining) not-to-dos
    Explaining one’s differences and limitations without antagonising people (partial disclosure)
  • Clarity in communication, the pitfalls of assumptions, how to be a good listener and how autism can be an advantage in communication
  • Setting boundaries with family
  • Budgeting and estimating living costs and necessary salary
  • Leasing arrangements with flatmates (not that I need that now, but always wondered how it works)
  • Time management, prioritisation and housework
  • Driving – sensory/mental overload & safety
  • Job search techniques (although not all of them are realistic in my case), including job interview preparation. Also, self-employment considerations
  • Navigating the workplace including appearance, social etiquette, understanding hidden cues, diplomacy, office politics and how to build social support systems
  • Sensory issues and the need for accommodations, partial VS full disclosure
  • Friendship skills and relationship skills
  • All the useful references

 

Piechart that shows the relative distribution of the areas of adulthood the book treats, based on number of pages dedicated to each

 
Less useful

Americanism. Some of the advice seems practically and/or culturally irrelevant outside of America. For example:

  • The apparently high risk of being shot by the police: I get the impression from the book than American police officers have a “shoot first, ask later” Western movie approach to atypical behaviour. That may be a relevant risk for some people, but probably only in America due to America’s world infamously liberal weapon laws and high crime rates
  • The strong focus on personal safety, which makes up a big chunk of the book
  • The strict corporate dress codes. I’m not sure if dress codes are really so strict for typical workplaces, or if that is specific for US corporate culture (Pantyhose, really?) Then again, I don’t have that much white collar work experience and maybe I am just being naive
  • What is a credit report? Apparently an essential factor… I take it that is a US thing as well

 
Conclusion

In summary, Living Independently on the Autism Spectrum explains step by step how to establish and maintain the foundation for a healthy & happy independent adult life. It goes through all the major milestones of adulthood and addresses common autistic challenges associated with each life aspect. I think the book does an excellent job.

 

View all my reviews

 
 
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