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  • FIRST POST
    wantsajob
    Asperger Syndrome and Disability Discrimination Act
    • #1
    • 15th Apr 10, 6:41 PM
    Asperger Syndrome and Disability Discrimination Act 15th Apr 10 at 6:41 PM
    I am looking for work and figured it may be a good idea to put together one side of A4 to try and express to employers how my Asperger Syndrome affects me, what "reasonable adjustments" could be made and get across that even though I have verbal communication and social interaction difficulties I am still employable. Sadly most employers see poor communication skills as an acceptable reason not to employ someone (in other words discriminate against them), yet if they saw a wheelchair as an acceptable reason not to then I am sure things would be somewhat different. Sadly people with Asperger Syndrome are no doubt discriminated against more than people in wheelchairs, whose only need for "adjustments" are things like a ramp, lift, height adjustable desk and so on. All very tangible easy to understand adjustments.

    It is rather soul destroying to have mentioned a disability and be rejected for a job for reasons relating to that disability etc etc. In fact I am soon to be 30, have never had a job, and am beginning to despair, feeling I will probably never get a job of any kind. In fact due to not being able to get someone to offer me a job I am beginning to feel somewhat suicidal as I feel like my life has no purpose (I'm sure any of you happily in work would feel the same in my circumstances). I started putting together a website at asemp.co.uk but that's probably a waste of time, lol.

    I have included a draft below and would welcome any opinions or suggestions.

    Asperger syndrome

    I have a mild form of autism called Asperger Syndrome (AS). AS is a hidden disability yet has a profound impact on employment prospects. Only 12% of people with the condition are in work (Lewis, 2009). Those in work are often not in positions utilising their skills or qualifications, and 79% of those on incapacity benefits, as I am, want to work (National Autistic Society, 2009). AS is primarily characterised by impairment in social communication, social interaction, and social imagination. For example, I have difficulty expressing myself and knowing when to start a conversation or what topic to talk about, picking up social cues, and also in making and maintaining social relationships. I can also have difficulty understanding or interpreting what other people are thinking, their feelings, and behaviour. As a result I have weak verbal communication and teamwork skills.

    Reasonable adjustments at recruitment and interview

    Due to AS I find interviews particularly difficult, and I consider them the sole barrier to employment. Past experience tells me I have some difficulty expressing and describing my abilities and previous experience effectively. I may come across as somewhat aloof or shy and unforthcoming. The DWP Access to Work scheme offers assistance for employers in providing a work trial for a person with disabilities. A work trial may provide a better view of my suitability for the position, and also of the position for myself. In terms of interviews, the following are some of the “reasonable adjustments” the National Autistic Society suggests to use when interviewing people with AS.
    • Ask closed questions and avoid open questions. For example, asking “tell me about yourself” is very vague and the candidate may not be able to judge exactly what you want to know. A better question would be “tell me about any jobs/voluntary work you have done in the last five years”.
    • Ask questions based on the candidate’s real/past experiences, for example “In your last job, did you do any filing or data input? What processes/procedures did you use to do this effectively?”
    • Avoid hypothetical or abstract questions, for example “How do you think you’ll cope with working if there are lots of interruptions?” A better question would be “Think back to your last job. Can you tell us how you coped with your work when people interrupted you?”
    • Be prepared to prompt the candidate in order to extract all the relevant information and gather sufficient information.
    Reasonable adjustments in employment

    I chose to apply for this position as I feel it is one I can excel and succeed at, despite my disability. To put my need for adjustments in perspective, I achieved a first class honours degree, and a pass with merit at masters level, with no adjustments in either course. Interaction on a one-to-one basis, for example in major project supervision, worked well. However, I found group work and giving presentations challenging, difficult, and stressful but I did not shy away from them. I anticipate employment, in itself, will provide an unrivalled opportunity to develop and improve these skills. This may be further facilitated with some adjustments and support. Reasonable adjustments could include some of the following. Written communication, such as email, may be preferable to verbal communication. If participation in large group meetings is difficult, a written summary of pertinent information may suffice. A quieter environment may increase productivity. Lewis (2009) writing on reasonable adjustments under the Disability Discrimination Act in relation to AS reports that a tribunal case suggested “increasing a worker’s appraisal rating because the score was lowered for a factor related to his communication style, which was related to his disability” (p. 65). Involvement with the DWP Access to Work scheme may also be beneficial.

    Further information and references

    Lewis, T. (2009), Proving disability and reasonable adjustments: A worker's guide to evidence under the DDA (Edition 3), available at: equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/dda_workers_guide_reasonable_adjustments.doc a Central London Law Centre publication.

    National Autistic Society, (2009), Campaign report: Don't write me off – Make the system fair for people with Autism, available at: dontwritemeoff.org.uk/Campaign-resources.aspx

    The National Autistic Society's website has a section for employers of people with autistic spectrum conditions at: nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=444

    There is a book edited by Genevieve Edmonds, and Luke Beardon entitled “Asperger Syndrome & Employment” published in 2008. It covers a range of issues and has a chapter intended for employers.
Page 1
  • jdturk
    • #2
    • 15th Apr 10, 7:16 PM
    • #2
    • 15th Apr 10, 7:16 PM
    You obviously seem like a articulate guy and a well versed one so my questions are, what type of jobs are you applying for and where have you put the benefits down for companies who read this to make these adjustments...as harsh as it sounds why would a company want to make these adjustments if they can hire someone who is just as good and not have to make adjustments?
    Always ask ACAS
  • dmg24
    • #3
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:30 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:30 PM
    Your text is very well written, and you are clearly on the right tracks to finding work. However, from an employers point of view I might find being presented with the above quite overwhelming, in that it feels a bit too 'legal'?

    Have you asked the JCP for a referral to one of the Pathways providers, or another organisation that helps the disabled back to work? It may be possible to arrange a supported placement to see how you get on before going it alone.
    • Nixer
    • By Nixer 15th Apr 10, 8:36 PM
    • 324 Posts
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    Nixer
    • #4
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:36 PM
    • #4
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:36 PM
    It's maybe a bit too long and you should tailor it to each thing you apply for - it should be like a covering letter. You say "I chose to apply for this position as I feel it is one I can excel and succeed at, despite my disability" but you don't say why you think you would excel at it, that's the bit that you have got to tailor to every job.

    Have you considered doing some voluntary work? This might get you some office skills and get past the never had a job/no experience hurdle. Might also help you to build your teamwork skills. I appreciate that you are trying to be honest but saying "weak verbal communication and teamwork skills" may put people off. At the risk of my asking a too open ended question - can you think of an example of where you had to work as part of a team, found it difficult and overcame it? If you can that would be a good thing to put down as it demonstrates that you find it difficult but can overcome it with help (or without help if that's the case).

    Also have you thought about this another way, i.e. thought of applying for jobs where the employer/ colleagues would have to make minimal or no adjustment - perhaps a non office job where you don't have to be part of a team so much - proof reader, postman, freelance computer programmer?
    • Nixer
    • By Nixer 15th Apr 10, 8:46 PM
    • 324 Posts
    • 326 Thanks
    Nixer
    • #5
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:46 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:46 PM
    Also, although you said it might be a waste of time, I actually think doing a website is a really good idea. That is something that you could give a link to a potential employer and it would demonstrate your website development and design skills as well as your writing skills. You could put the link to your website as one of the references you list. I would take the book reference off - an employer is more likely to visit a website than track down a book.
  • dmg24
    • #6
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:52 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Apr 10, 8:52 PM
    Also, although you said it might be a waste of time, I actually think doing a website is a really good idea. That is something that you could give a link to a potential employer and it would demonstrate your website development and design skills as well as your writing skills. You could put the link to your website as one of the references you list. I would take the book reference off - an employer is more likely to visit a website than track down a book.
    Originally posted by Nixer
    I agree, I think a website is an excellent idea, it shows originality and a determination to get ahead.
  • jdturk
    • #7
    • 15th Apr 10, 9:19 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Apr 10, 9:19 PM
    yeah I agree with the website idea!
    Always ask ACAS
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 16th Apr 10, 1:43 AM
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #8
    • 16th Apr 10, 1:43 AM
    • #8
    • 16th Apr 10, 1:43 AM
    You obviously seem like a articulate guy and a well versed one so my questions are, what type of jobs are you applying for and where have you put the benefits down for companies who read this to make these adjustments...as harsh as it sounds why would a company want to make these adjustments if they can hire someone who is just as good and not have to make adjustments?
    Originally posted by jdturk
    I agree, so wants, I wouldn't start the way you do, with the negative side, but with the advantages you would bring - the way you aren't side-tracked by chit-chat but like to get 'stuck in'; the logical way you approach problems and overcome them; the honesty you bring to the workplace.

    You're probably aware that some jobs seem to particularly attract Aspies - computers, for example!

    What's your degree in?
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 2 baby jumpers, 1 shawl, 2 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure ...
    Current projects: 1 shawl, 1 baby jumper
    • DKLS
    • By DKLS 16th Apr 10, 12:05 PM
    • 12,820 Posts
    • 21,524 Thanks
    DKLS
    • #9
    • 16th Apr 10, 12:05 PM
    • #9
    • 16th Apr 10, 12:05 PM
    You're probably aware that some jobs seem to particularly attract Aspies - computers, for example!
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    I think the big issue is ignorance amongst employers about aspies. I know I was until I hired one, initially our relationship was very strained until I changed my management style and we got on famously and her work was truly amazing, now for certain roles such as programming I would actively seek out an aspie for the role, as from experience, they can make much better programmers than those without aspie traits.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 16th Apr 10, 2:10 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    True, it's only when you get to know one that you appreciate what you're getting.

    DS1 is on the scale, or 'has fragments' according to his last assessment. He functions pretty well most of the time, but he still has distinct preferences and I don't know how he'd function in the work place. I think the last 'teambuilding day' we had would have either sent him screaming from the building, or he would have sabotaged it completely because he just couldn't do what was being asked. Mind you, I came close both those reactions myself ...

    He's gone for self employment, which has its up and down sides ...
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 2 baby jumpers, 1 shawl, 2 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure ...
    Current projects: 1 shawl, 1 baby jumper
    • Hermia
    • By Hermia 16th Apr 10, 2:16 PM
    • 3,961 Posts
    • 10,257 Thanks
    Hermia
    I think your statement is clear and beautifully written, but I think it may come across as being quite "bossy". Employers do worry that they will get into trouble if they get it wrong regarding Equal Opportunities and the DDA. I think an employer might feel a little intimidated by your statement. Maybe you could write it in a gentler way. So, don't write "Ask closed questions and avoid open questions" and "Avoid hypothetical or abstract questions". Instead you could write something like, "People with Aspergers find closed questions easier to deal with than open questions. Hypothetical questions can also be hard to understand. Rewording a question, using concrete examples and prompting the candidate can greatly assist them during the interview."

    I wish you luck. I have worked with many colleagues with disabilities so there are people out there who are willing to give you a chance.
    • RobertoMoir
    • By RobertoMoir 16th Apr 10, 2:36 PM
    • 3,348 Posts
    • 4,078 Thanks
    RobertoMoir
    I think your statement is clear and beautifully written, but I think it may come across as being quite "bossy". Employers do worry that they will get into trouble if they get it wrong regarding Equal Opportunities and the DDA. I think an employer might feel a little intimidated by your statement. Maybe you could write it in a gentler way. So, don't write "Ask closed questions and avoid open questions" and "Avoid hypothetical or abstract questions". Instead you could write something like, "People with Aspergers find closed questions easier to deal with than open questions. Hypothetical questions can also be hard to understand. Rewording a question, using concrete examples and prompting the candidate can greatly assist them during the interview."

    I wish you luck. I have worked with many colleagues with disabilities so there are people out there who are willing to give you a chance.
    Originally posted by Hermia
    I think this is a fair point. Phrase things with the idea that you are "educating and helping" people rather than "telling" them and it may go down better. As it is, the current wording is direct almost to the point of being confrontational.
    Last edited by RobertoMoir; 16-04-2010 at 3:14 PM.
    Former Bailiff.
    I'm here to help but I reserve the right to be blunt and to the point rather than sugar-coat my replies.


    The problem with consolidation loans is the absurd idea that "more credit" is the answer to too much credit.
    • magpiecottage
    • By magpiecottage 16th Apr 10, 3:48 PM
    • 9,131 Posts
    • 5,584 Thanks
    magpiecottage
    "I have the same disability as Alan Turing who cracked the German Enigma Codes" might be a good line.

    It is not certain he did have Aspergers - Asperger first defined it, in Austria, during WW2 so Turing was hardly going to offer himself as a subject for Asperger to study!

    On the other hand, it is a way in. From my experience with sufferers, they don't socialise particularly well but if an employer gets them to "buy in" to what they want then they can usually leave them to get on with it.

    I am not in the least surprised that your academic achievements are so good but without knowing what field you are in it is difficult to comment further.
    • Nixer
    • By Nixer 16th Apr 10, 10:45 PM
    • 324 Posts
    • 326 Thanks
    Nixer
    Quick aside on computer programming and aspergers...

    I am a programmer (which is why I mentioned the freelance version when casting about for jobs the OP could do that meant not being in an office/team) and I have a colleague who is far, far better at programming than I, and I suspect he might have Aspergers. When we work together I have to help him out a lot with communication both verbal and written and he doesn't "get" social nuance at all and has a few...habits. I wouldn't put him (or most of the rest of our team in fact) in front of a customer if it were up to me. But I enjoy working with him, though he drives me mad at times (he'll spend too long trying to get the perfect solution), I have learnt a lot from him and improved my programming no end, and he says he has got a lot out of working with me.

    Programming, depending on where you work can involve having a lot of skills: good analytical skills, time management, "fitting in" and being able to talk to managers and users alike, good oral and written skills, as well as being able to write code. Ideally you'd get those skills all in one person, but I've yet to see it in 10 years as a programmer.
    Last edited by Nixer; 16-04-2010 at 11:04 PM.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 16th Apr 10, 11:01 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    Very true. I kept telling DS1 while he was at Uni that "Use Linux, it's better than Windoze" wasn't an answer which could be used in many customer facing situations, and one day he might have to face a 'customer'.

    The niche he's found for himself works for him, because the people he's mostly working for are as dysfunctional as he is, but in different ways.
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 2 baby jumpers, 1 shawl, 2 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure ...
    Current projects: 1 shawl, 1 baby jumper
  • Nicolas01
    Asperger Syndrome is a very misunderstood disease. Asperger Syndrome is classified as a developmental disability. People suffering from Asperger Syndrome usually speak in a peculiar way and also the biggest problem that people with Asperger Syndome face is that they are almost completely unable to interact with others.
  • eve13
    Aspergers is NOT a disease
    Sorry, that term for being an aspie always infuriates me! My son is 25, very articulate in subjects he is interested in, becomes monosyllabic (sp?) otherwise. Loves his voluntary work with childen as they always say exactly what they mean and love to play, things he is also keen on. However simply volunteering isn't a guarantee of work. His two employers are full of praise for him but will not give him paid work as he does not meet their standards yet after 5 years. We are paying for him to take NVQ2 Childcare and see if they run out of excuses when he passes (which he will, with flying colours) Don't want to take the discrimination route because what would be the point of working in a job where employers are forced to take you on. Am worried ofcause by new legislation forcing onto ESA
  • Googlewhacker
    Sorry, that term for being an aspie always infuriates me! My son is 25, very articulate in subjects he is interested in, becomes monosyllabic (sp?) otherwise. Loves his voluntary work with childen as they always say exactly what they mean and love to play, things he is also keen on. However simply volunteering isn't a guarantee of work. His two employers are full of praise for him but will not give him paid work as he does not meet their standards yet after 5 years. We are paying for him to take NVQ2 Childcare and see if they run out of excuses when he passes (which he will, with flying colours) Don't want to take the discrimination route because what would be the point of working in a job where employers are forced to take you on. Am worried ofcause by new legislation forcing onto ESA
    Originally posted by eve13
    Even if he meets standards this won't guarantee paid work, employers will work on budgets including wages and if they are full when he passes then this is not discriminatory in terms of not paying him.

    However if someone left and there was a job position available this maybe discriminatory but only if his disability is the reason for him not getting the job and in the current job market there may just be more qualified and exerienced people that apply.

    Is he actually applying for other jobs or is he pinning his hopes all on these two?
    The Googlewhacker referance is to Dave Gorman and not to my opinion of the search engine!

    If I give you advice it is only a view and always always take professional advice before acting!!!

    4 people on the ignore list....Bliss!
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 25th Oct 10, 3:02 PM
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    Savvy_Sue
    People suffering from Asperger Syndrome usually speak in a peculiar way and also the biggest problem that people with Asperger Syndome face is that they are almost completely unable to interact with others.
    Originally posted by Nicolas01
    Obviously I don't know everyone who suffers from Asperger Syndrome, but I've yet to meet one who was 'almost completely unable to interact with others'. I'm not sure what's meant by 'speaking in a peculiar way' either: I live with (at least) two people on the spectrum, and there's nothing at all wrong with their speech.

    The ones I know best interact with other people in a perfectly satisfactory manner. Other people may not always like or enjoy the interactions, or understand why things have seemed a bit different, but the interaction is there, with a wide range of people.

    Yes, they have problems, but let's not forget that it's a spectrum, with extremes, yet it's not completely disabling for all of them, as you make it sound ...
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 2 baby jumpers, 1 shawl, 2 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure ...
    Current projects: 1 shawl, 1 baby jumper
  • eve13
    There are always vacancies as the youngsters (16+) tend to see this as something to do until they get a better job, or they get bored or they find it harder than they expected it to be. Like most aspies my son is concientious , honest and hardworking- I sometimes wonder perhaps he doesn't get the jobs because why pay for a good worker when he is willing to work for free? Remember we are talking about an aspie here, he isn't actually worried about money but would like the status of being a real staff member. Trying somewhere else would be a nightmare- he can't talk to people he doesn't know especially when they ask open questions. He's also too honest, at one interview for job as playLEADER he was asked did he prefer to be a leader or a follower- guess which he chose!! Also it took him over two years to settle into these two voluntary positions with support in place who is going to do the same for a paid worker when they can hire another person with no disabilities?
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