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How Adults With Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome Can Land a Great Job

When you have Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, the job search and especially the interview can be markedly more difficult than for typical peers. You may be a smart, experienced candidate with great work ethics, but how are you supposed to get that across to the interviewer?

Some people on the autism spectrum have trouble looking others in the eye, they may fidget during job interviews or they may come across as if they are not serious and engaged. They may have trouble communicating in a way that shows the employer just how much they are really capable of. Here are some tips that might help.

Adults with Asperger’s syndrome – 7 Job Search Tips

1. The Internet can help especially for adults with Asperger’s syndrome

These days, a lot of advertisements for jobs are posted on the Internet. This eliminates the need for a daily paper or more complicated ways of searching (although you still should use those to complement your Internet searches if you don’t find something right away).

Use the Internet to make an initial list of jobs that look good to you, and then start calling or filling out applications. The Internet in many cases means you don’t have to send out physical applications, streamlining and making the whole process a lot easier. Make sure you look at Craigslist.org which lists job opportunities by city.

2. Consider a job where you can telecommute

For an adult with Asperger’s syndrome, there are many advantages to a job where you telecommute versus a traditional office job. The most obvious one for adults with Asperger’s syndrome is that body language, and reading other people’s non-verbal language is rarely an issue. Many telecommuting jobs even let you interview over the telephone, which allows your best traits to come out. No worrying about looking the interviewer in the eye, fidgeting, or where to put your hands.

There are many jobs that allow for telecommuting, from writing and artistic endeavors to computer programming. There are some companies where most employees telecommute… that is, they will send you whatever equipment you need to do your job, and you do it from home. That is quite useful because you can apply for national jobs no matter where you live.

Not having to deal with office politics, at least as overtly, and being in an environment where you don’t have to worry about sensory issues are also other advantages for adults with Asperger’s syndrome. You can try to use Google to find these jobs.

A few websites list a wide variety of jobs where companies post listing, you respond over the internet and are hired over the internet. There is no actual in-person communication. A great site which lists many jobs in writing, computer programming, website work, and graphics design (all great jobs for adults with Asperger’s syndrome) is Elance.com. Another is freelancer.com.

3. Take advantage of every opportunity in your area

If you can find recruiters to interview with that might be able to hook you up with a good job, then go for it. A recruiter (or “head hunter”) may be able to help an adult with Asperger’s syndrome navigate the challenge of the interview process. Most recruiters make a commission if you are hired. And they will talk directly with the hiring company, on your behalf, to try and explain or overcome issues that the company may have with you in order to get you hired.

If your local employment center offers networking classes or events, then try them out. If you have access to any sort of interview preparation programs either on the computer or in person, then practice, practice, practice. There may be some government assistance offered to those with a formal diagnosis of autism so ask at your local employment office. Even though it may seem pointless or fruitless in the short term, leave no stone unturned in your effort to find a job and successfully apply for it.

4. Practice, practice, practice

It goes without saying that the interview is the most important part of this process.

Find someone who will practice interviewing with you. Practice over and over again, until you can answer interview questions in your sleep. Look up common questions on the Internet.

Common questions include those about your strengths and weaknesses, particular instances of times when you delivered superior performance or used problem solving skills to solve a unique and difficult problem in your previous job.

When asked about your weaknesses, minimize them. Say something like “Some people say I take my work too seriously.” You don’t want them to know what your actual weaknesses are, but you don’t want to say nothing, either.

5. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome are visual so video tape your practice interviews

Adults with Asperger’s syndrome are often very visual. If you could see yourself as you practice interview, you can see ways to improve. If you have a video camera, or if your phone takes videos, have a friend or family member video tape you while you practice your interview. Watching the video can help you see ways to improve. You may see that you are fidgeting or picking at your nose! Things that you did not realize as you practiced.

6. Don’t worry – you can succeed!

The job search and interview process will drive most people crazy sooner or later. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome, in particular, often have high anxiety levels and worry a lot. You may feel that there is so much to worry about… Did I do this right? Could I have done this better? Did I say the wrong thing? And so forth.

Find some ways to let off steam after an interview. Do something you enjoy. Hopefully you have people who can listen to you and give you support during this process. Remember, it’s not easy for anyone. Don’t isolate yourself…reach out for help.

7. Other Tips

Research the company ahead of time so you can appear knowledgeable about what they do.

Try to look the interviewer in the eye if possible, or look at the tip of his or her nose if looking the person in the eye is uncomfortable. Most with Asperger’s syndrome have a nearly impossible time looking someone in the eye. But this is very important. At least look at the tip of the interviewer’s nose…they will never know the difference.

Ask someone for tips on how to dress appropriately. You might even want to go into the office ahead of time to see what style others are wearing, and try to copy it.

Practice being short and to the point, and not going on for too long.

On your resume, don’t feel compelled to put every miscellaneous job you have ever had (unless you haven’t had much job experience.) Only put the most relevant things, and only put jobs where you are fairly certain you would get a good reference.

Remember that as difficult as this is, you will get through it. Many have been in your shoes. Somewhere out there, there is a match for your talents, interests and skills. You just have to be patient and try not to lose hope, and meanwhile keep practicing those interview skills!

And for further tips and techniques to help an adult with Asperger’s syndrome live a happy and fulfilled life, go to the web site AspergersSociety.org and http://www.autismparenthood.com/. There you will be able to sign up for the free Asperger’s and Autism newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved ones thrive on the autism spectrum.

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Tips for Helping Your Child Become a Savvy Consumer

Every holiday from New Year’s to Christmas and everything else in between provides opportunities for families and businesses to celebrate. It offers a time for families to gather and do something special and it gives business a chance to increase their revenues. As a result, the holidays and other occasions, such as back to school, are always accompanied by ample media messages in print and on the screen. We have come to know these as commercials and advertisements, and every holiday comes with new enticements to buy, buy, buy!

Commercials and advertisements have been around since the 1950’s and every generation has been exposed to the shopping hype during the holiday season. Tis’ the season for a constant barrage of media messages from various sources. Everyone that watches receives overt or subliminal messages from businesses that desperately want us to buy their wares – from a company trying to convince you that your child needs a particular item in order to reach his or her potential, to playing upon a parent’s fear that their child’s safety is at stake and a cell phone is what is needed to bring peace of mind.

As difficult as these messages may be for us adults to sort out and resolve, we are able to filter out what these cooperate conglomerates are attempting to do. We are able to think for ourselves and we have our values to guide us. Most of us are confident about our parenting identity and what we want for our children.

So where does that leave our children? Unfortunately, young children are very easily influenced by media messages, especially television commercials. Young children will use them to determine what is cool and what they think they need. The average child sees more than 40,000 commercials each year. Commercials are quick, fast-paced and entertaining. They are easy to remember with catchy phrases that try to convince your child they can’t live without a certain product.

How many of you have experienced a constant request for certain toys, products, or clothing that your children have seen advertised on TV or on the internet? Once a commercial has enticed your child, the nag factor sets in. We have to expect that when kids are bombarded by ads telling them to buy certain products in order to be popular – that nagging will soon follow.

According to a national survey of youth commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream,

• the average American child aged 12-17 will ask their parents for products they’ve seen advertised on TV an average of nine times until their parents finally give in.

• for parents of so-called “tweens”, 12-13 year olds, these children admit to asking their parents more than fifty times for products they’ve seen advertised.

Ask yourself if this is what you want to deal with when your child is that age?

We may not be able to control the images and enticements our children are bombarded with out there in the community at large but we certainly can maintain some control over which messages creep into our homes. How does a parent in today’s media generated culture keep excessive commercialism from negatively impacting their child and the true spirit of the holidays? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Help Your Child Think Critically about TV

Whenever possible, talk to your child about what they see on television. If your child is very young she may not be able to tell the difference between a show, a commercial, a cartoon or real life and that characters on TV are make-believe and not real. For older children you can always turn a commercial or an advertisement into a learning experience by helping your child find the appropriate message. Always remember, if you do not want your child exposed to certain messages, you can either turn off the TV or explain why you object.

Help your child resist commercials

Do not expect your child to be able to resist ads for toys, candy, snacks, cereal, drinks or new programs without your help. When your child asks for products advertised on TV, explain that the purpose of commercials is to make people want things they may not need. Limit the number of commercials your child sees by watching public television stations (PBS) or other educational programing. You also can record programs and leave out the commercials or buy or rent children’s videos or DVDs.

Make television viewing a team sport.

If your schedule prevents you from watching TV together as a family, try recording the programs so that you can watch them with your child at a later time. Watching TV with your children whenever you can allows you to mute the television during commercial breaks. This is a great time to discuss the life learning opportunities that can be derived from the television show you are viewing. Or, you can choose to watch the commercials together and help your children understand advertisers’ marketing techniques.

Explore helpful resources.

Fortunately there is much that parents can do to protect their kids from the pressure to buy more and get more. The Center for a New American Dream http://www.newdream.org has a brochure called Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture , which can be downloaded for free.

Stay informed.

Find out what the experts are saying. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement on commercialism and how constant exposure to advertising effects children – Children, Adolescents, and Advertising. These policy statements are always being revised and kept up to date so make sure you check in and see what they have to say.

When any child watches television you can be sure that he is receiving numerous media messages, which promote the notion that consumption is the pathway to happiness, acceptance, popularity and success. These messages are also creeping into the internet and the cell phones that now seem to be a normal part of life for most children. It is important to understand that any media, which advances a commercial culture may impact your holidays, your child and your wallet more than you realize BUT don’t ever forget that you are in control.

If you say ‘no’ to television because of commercials, say ‘yes’ to something else – a board game, making a pie, or going on a bike ride together. Help your child find other things to do with his time, such as playing, reading, arts and crafts, exploring his natural environment, learning a hobby, a sport, an instrument or doing a community service. In doing so you can take pleasure in knowing that you are advancing a culture of creative thinkers and caring people.

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website http://www.parentcoachingforautism.com/ to get your FREE resources – a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

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