Wednesday, March 31, 2010

56 jobs at 52

Asperger's syndrome has been in the news frequently of late. Growing attention is being paid to the employment challenges faced by people with this autism-spectrum disorder and the recent announcement that the label of Asperger's syndrome itself is slated to vanish with the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) – the so-called "bible of psychiatry", scheduled for publication in 2013 – sparking intense debate.

The decision to eliminate the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome has been greeted with hostility by some people with the condition, in part because this diagnosis carries less stigma than a diagnosis of autism. For some, it feels like an erasure of personal identity as well. Others view the change with less alarm since Asperger's syndrome is already classified as an autism-spectrum disorder and thus the change does not mean they are moving to an entirely new section of the DSM, or that they cannot receive a diagnosis and all-important treatment code, used to determine eligibility for insurance and benefits.

For job seekers with Asperger's syndrome, first identified in 1944 by Doctor Hans Asperger, there are significant barriers to employment. According to speech pathologist Barbara Bloomfield, unemployment rates for people on the autism spectrum can range from 75% to 97%, even when the economy is healthy.

Asperger's syndrome is characterized by difficulties with communication. Aspies, as people with Asperger's syndrome are sometimes known, have trouble reading body language and many social cues. Some have language-processing disorders, which make spoken communication challenging; Aspies can also have trouble with eye contact, modulating their voices, shaking hands and expressing themselves verbally.

For people on the autism spectrum, developing skills that can lead to gainful employment is challenging. It may be difficult to attend university to get a degree, for example, and it is hard to find work to build experience and a résumé. Communication is key to social success and people with communication disorders, such as Asperger's syndrome, may not be able to establish the basic connections with other people that are critical when seeking employment. It is commonly believed that Aspies are unemployable, when this simply isn't true.

Doing well in a job interview is challenging for anyone. For people possessing valuable job skills with this communication disorder, performing well in a job interview can be extremely difficult. The prospective employer reads the unwillingness to shake hands, difficulty making eye contact and hesitation in speech as coldness or incompetence, and the applicant is rejected.

Skilled Aspies may turn to other areas of employment when they cannot find work in their chosen profession. However, they still face the fundamental hurdle of the job interview. "Don't write me off" is the slogan of a campaign to improve access to employment and benefits for people on the autism spectrum from the National Autistic Society and it is quite fitting, as people with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger's syndrome, are routinely written off by prospective employers – even though autistic traits can sometimes be an asset.

People with autism spectrum disorders have traits like a high attention to detail, very intense focus and a willingness and sometimes need to repeat tasks until they are perfect. These traits are ideal for people such as computer programmers, who need to be able to focus on sometimes highly repetitive tasks with a very small margin for error. The strict need for order found among some people on the autism spectrum can also turn into an employment asset in some work environments. A sharp-eyed Aspie can often spot imperfections and problems, which might go unnoticed by someone else.

In Britain, the Autism Act 2009 was passed to address some of the social disparities, employment among them, experienced by people with autism-spectrum disorders. It is estimated that 300,000 adults in England have an autism-spectrum disorder. Those who are willing, ready and able to work cannot find employment because they are unable to pass that most basic test, the social performance that is the job interview. Thanks to the work of disability advocates, disability employment advisors are going to be receiving autism training. This training is designed to improve the support system for jobseekers with autism-spectrum disorders so that they can navigate the job market more effectively.

Even with this support, it seems likely that people with Asperger's syndrome will continue to experience employment discrimination. Educating employers and making them more familiar with the needs of people with autism-spectrum disorders may improve chances in job interviews, but it is still difficult to overcome communication barriers, even when one is aware they exist. When two equally qualified people compete for a position and one is deemed more charismatic than the other, employers are more likely to choose the charismatic applicant.

Addressing this issue requires getting more people with autism-spectrum disorders into the workplace, including positions in human resources so that communication styles are less likely to remain a barrier to employment. However, there's a vicious cycle: in order to reach those positions, people with autism-spectrum disorders still need to pass the interviews.

This article was published on at 13.30 GMT on Tuesday 16 March 2010. It was last modified at 17.05 GMT on Friday 19 March 2010.

2012: "Aspies" get lost in a crowd and disappear. My 56 employers

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover for the Time Impared.

When us Jews escaped from slavery long ago and far away in Egypt, we did not have much time to make regular bread, let alone anything else. Passover helps us to remind us of that by eating only Matzah. Today we have time for a long and complete sedar, and do not have to be restricted to the following: A Passover service for the impatient:

Opening prayers:
Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
s for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)
Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt . Now we're free. That's why we're doing this.
Four questions:

1. What's up with the matza?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?
1. When we left Egypt , we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It's called symbolism.

4. Free people get to slouch.

A funny story:

Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning.
(Heat soup now.)
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child—explain Passover.
Simple child—explain Passover slowly.
Silent child—explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child—browbeat in front of the relatives.
Speaking of children:
We hid some matza. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover:
It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt . Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matza. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again.
(Let brisket cool now.)
The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice—you name it.
The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough.
If he'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea , it would've been enough.
If he'd parted the Red Sea —
(Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)
Eat matza. Drink more wine. Slouch. Thanks again, God, for everything.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lake Mary Vacation

This is a montage I created from 6 different sources. I also made several edits to each element. Click on the picture for a larger image. All of these images can be seen in Lake Mary. THAT DELI is at 3801 W Lake Mary Blvd Suite 131, Lake Mary FL 32746 Phone: 321.363.1394 Fax: 321.363.1542

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Holly Hunter 1958 -

Thank you for visiting and reading. Click on "comments" to the left of the tiny envelope-with-arrow icon below, to reply or read replies to my postings. Updates that are unread, have words changed to the red color. If it is in red, it was not read. Please click on the links below "LINKS" in the left column for instructions, and other pages. Click on any character, letter, number, word, phrase, sentence or title that the following happens: 1) It is a different color than the normal text, which currently means orange instead of brown. 2)Your cursor turns from an arrow to a hand when placed over these (characters) 3) When placing the cursor on the (hyperlink) it becomes underlined and changes color. Original posting 2007.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

House Rules book review

The astonishing new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult about a family torn apart by an accusation of murder.

They tell me I'm lucky to have a son who's so verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the broken microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there's a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world, and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else, but truly doesn't know how.

Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject — in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's — not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect — can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacobcommit murder?

Emotionally powerful from beginning to end, House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our
legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way — and fails those who don't.
The Washington Post - Maureen Corrigan

Throughout the long unfolding of House Rules, Picoult keeps so many storyline streamers whirling in the air that it would be easy just to praise her technical mastery. But though the multiple plots and narrators are, indeed, adroitly managed, what most readers will cherish is the character of Jacob Hunt, an 18-year-old high school student with Asperger's syndrome…Picoult's depiction of Jacob and his family is complex, compassionate and smart…But, again, it's Jacob who will linger with readers. Desperate to connect with other people and yet hampered in his ability to do so, he is painfully glassed off from the world of his peers, as well as from most adults. Picoult's superb novel makes us inhabit Jacob's solitude and abide his yearning.

December 29, 2009: Emma Hunt has dedicated her life to her son Jacob who suffers with Asperger's syndrome. Her sacrifice has come with personal lost and cost as her career was pushed aside; her ex-husband Henry the computer programmer left as he worked at home and could not concentrate with the tantrums; and her other son Theo three years younger than Jacob is expected to watch over him when mom cannot, but ignored otherwise by her as he cannot even get his permit. She lives to protect Jacob and Theo understands that the prime house rule is take care of your brother.

However, her efforts to give her soon a life fall apart when the police charge eighteen years old Jacob with the murder of Jess Ogilvy. His inability to understand non verbal signs and comprehend social nuances puts Jacob at risk. Desperate, she hires Oliver O. Bond as Jacob's lawyer.

This is a super look at Asperger's Syndrome, but not just the person suffering from it, but also the impact on family members especially Theo. The murder mystery tales a back seat even in the courtroom to how Henry thinks and reacts to senses overload, which can be simply crinkling of paper. Rotating perspective between family members, the lawyer and others, fans obtain a deep look at the total impact of Asperger's Syndrome.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Symptoms of A. S.

Symptoms of Aspie include:

Difficulty interacting with others
Trouble making friends
Poor understanding of other people's feelings
Insensitivity to social cues and facial expressions
Inappropriate social and emotional responses
Preoccupation with one's own world
Not sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with others
Following repetitive routines
Single mindedness
Limited interests, usually one or two subjects
Repeating words or phrases over and over
Intense interest in a few topics
Good rote memory without understanding the information
Limited verbal skills or using words in odd ways
Difficulty imagining things or thinking abstractly
Taking things very literally
Focusing on small details and having trouble seeing the bigger picture
Ability to read without understanding the words
Problems with nonverbal communication
Poor eye contact
Few facial expressions, except for anger or unhappiness
Impaired body posturing or use of gestures
Clumsy movements
Hand flapping
Poor coordination
Inflexibility or trouble accepting change
Difficulty accepting loss or criticism
Desire to finish any tasks that are started