Welcome back! This week, We’ll be looking at an article that, while it does not specifically deal with issues concerning the Autistic/Aspie community, does show an inventive way of how we can solve one of our major problems: how society at large sees us. I’ve talked a bit about this in the past, but the reason I’m bringing it up a bit again is because I like how the people in this article went about trying to solve it, albeit for a not-so-very different reason. Please welcome our next guest: CNN.
We always roll out the red carpet for our extinguished guests who come on our grass roots blog. I hope I spelled extinguished right, and not in the same way that is used to describe a fire being put out. Never ends well to spray your honoured guests with an extinguisher.
Now, big news articles like CNN rarely go on the spot light on this blog (Because mostly because they rarely feature topics about our community), but this time I thought would be different simply because what’s been reported here we can easily recreate ourselves. Have you heard about the photo art series “Eyes as Big as Plates”by photographers Ritta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth? It contains photos of elderly people from multiple nations (Japan, Norway, and others) dressed to look like the gods, goddesses, or spirits from their respective regions in natural environments. Essentially, they go about meeting seniors, asking if they would like to have their photos taken, and then letting them wear whatever style that would make them look more like vegetation than man (look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean).
The meaning of this is, like all art, subjective. To me, the pictures are meant to empower senior men and women, showing them to society in a new light through images of them dressed up as powerful gods, goddesses and spirits of nature. Not to mention also showing the beauty and power of nature, while also that we may be closer to the natural world than we think we are. It’s on the first thought though, that caught my attention. If it could work for the elderly, why not for the Autistic/Aspie community? Why can’t we take pictures of ourselves or others in the same light, as powerful gods or goddesses, or even our favorite heroes like Superman or anime character/superhero?
Or be your own superhero! Dress up as a hero of your own making: Your own costume, tools, powers, all that stuff. Even your own back story! Like being bitten by a radioactive mosquito!
Through that medium, by showing ourselves in a different, empowering light than is normally associated with us, we could change how society sees and perceives us. Rather than as violent, angry, awkward social outcasts who are only good at math or computers, we could present ourselves as strong individuals whose natural abilities are that, like the mythical gods themselves, varied in strengths and weaknesses, with no two being exactly the same (unless a domineering empire takes over your country and starts to absorb your culture, than break international copyright laws by making an entirely “new” god with the same looks, same powers and same backstory, but a different name. Think of Rome and any other ancient culture).
So why not. Why not take a picture of yourself that way and post all over social media. In fact get a bunch of friends/family/both and do it! Make a day of it! Combine two of the best things in the world: Having fun and changing societies views for the better. That does it for this week’s post. Next week will once again be a completely different topic, and maybe later than usual as right now I am preparing for a major change, plus start working on another side project that might tie in to this one. Until then, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week, I will be talking about my own thoughts on the topic of poisonous workplace environment towards Autistics/Aspies, which I’m sure everyone wants to hear (which is the whole point of writing any blog ever. Everyone knows that). So without further ado, I’ll get to the talking bits.
Come one, come all! Here my opinion on this particular topic today! I promise you won’t get sick of my voice at all!
I’ll admit, I have been relatively lucky when it came to working environments and employers in general. Either I stuck around long enough to eventually win them over, left before the working environment turned sour, or just had really good bosses and coworkers in general (one job my boss was a great guy, but one of my coworkers was...yeah). So I can’t say I know what it’s like to be in a poisonous environment, at least not all throughout my tenure (I have been in a couple of poisonous classroom environments, but that's another topic). That said, the reason that I did not have to many negative work experiences is probably because, as the article says and what I hear and read from other fellow Autistics/Aspies, employment opportunities for us are both few and far between.
It’s pretty much to the point of nearly every Autistic/Aspie experiencing a year or more of unemployment before they get a job, and even than the quality of the work itself and it’s environment may not always be up to snuff. And true, I am writing from the experience of a young university student, where employment, full time or otherwise, are now famously seemingly non-existent to us, I have noticed a pattern between them. When it comes to the employment troubles of typical NT youth, while there are some complaints of work being few and far between, they usually mean good, non-entry level jobs where you don't need either a degree or a certain amount of experience to get in, once their degree is done.
Oh sure, everyone says that getting a post secondary is a rich experience, but what they don’t tell you is that it makes you poor, have a poor diet and aroused at the same time. Okay the other two can happen before and after college but not the first! Okay the first to.
And as for the time of being unemployed, they usually measure such periods in, well, weeks. Months at worst. When it comes to Autistic/Aspie youth though, such unemployment periods, mine included, can be measured in years, one, two or more. And those that do find work will...yeah. And true, places like Mcdonalds or Harveys are always looking for people, but you try getting someone who is A) introverted by nature. B) after facing years of being bullied for something that they cannot help, gaining a feeling of dislike for the human race in general. C) Most likely has some mental health issues (probably thanks to B) or is neurodiverse in more ways than one (ADHD, high anxiety, etc) which will hamper them to a large degree in working in a culture were speed is key and pressure is always present.
In other words, what little jobs that are out there, would not necessarily be ones that we could, or should, do. And in most cases, may actually come out of it in a worse condition than we went in. So what can be done? This is something that will take more than the Autistic/Aspie community to handle, as it affects more than just us. What we can do, for our part, is show potential employers that we can be more than just coding captains, banking barons or menial work masters. We could be doctors, police officers, politicians, and more (If you are a coding captain, you could make an internet showing videos of Autistics/Aspies performing work, more than the stereotypical ones. Just an idea).
You know, just a tiny little suggestion that, if it doesn't work out, I don’t need to be credited for it. But if it does work out and is a big success (especially if it is a big success), than I definitely need to be credited for it.
As for the other part, it’ll take all of society to help change that, to make more well paying, none-menial type jobs available for those in the workforce. Unless automation takes all the jobs away, then it’ll be a whole different ball game (bloody machines, slowly taking our jobs away. I blame the terminator movies for giving the idea to companies like Apple and Amazon).
Well, that does it for this week's post. Next week will be (as I said many times in the previous couple of posts) will be an entirely new topic for us to explore (tired of hearing it yet? No? What about now?). Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Source to use:
Welcome back! Last week we left off with how much more potential harm than good hiring initiatives towards Autistics/Aspies are doing. You know, cheerful stuff. This week we will...continue looking at that topic still (you can never have too much of a good thing), finding out some of the ways the message, though positive on the cover, has some, well, unfortunate messaging behind it (though again, that is not necessarily always the intention with every initiative). Anyways, enough talk, time to walk (to the next paragraph).
If you look to your right, you will see the wonderful white space with the scroll icon at the very end. If you look to your let you will see a lovely picture of the author himself and some relevant info (please no screen caps while the tour is in progress).
What’s one of the jobs Autistics/Aspies are usually pigeon holed into? Why, tech or data entry ones of course (not to say that that’s necessarily a bad thing if you are skilled in that way, fair play to yeah if you are). Often the companies hiring Autistic/Aspie'ss are being sold the message that we are all coding savants. Which is wrong obviously, ‘cause if we were all coding savants there would be a lot less misunderstandings about us out there on the internet, and a lot more references about obscure things that we happen to like at the time. Less lies about a cure, and more articles on how certain anime shows, or graphic novels, are the bomb.
Then of course, there is the mistreatment: vocational agents disclosing employees disability/diagnosis with hiring manager without the expressed permission of the employee. Telling said hiring manager what negative, stereotypical behaviours the employee will be exhibited once hired. Then, according to the article, forced to make eye-contact, “criticized for their natural way of being” (The Dark Side of Autism in the Workplace, Paragraph 14), and made to work with either a job coach or undergo ABA training, just to name a few. Fun times for no one.
See this wonderful picture of a father and his child having fun together? This is all the fun that you will not be having if something like the above happens to you.
The workplace trainings, the article says, are barking up the wrong tree: they are trying to understand Autism/Asperger's (In a way where they don’t just ask us about it. Talk about fighting a battle with both hands tied behind your back and on your knees). What they should be doing instead is trying to improve conditions by providing quality leadership, improved communication practices and “universal diversity and inclusion training” (The Dark Side of Autism in the Workplace, Paragraph 15).
Well, that does it for this week! Next week will be my personal thoughts on the topic before moving on to a different topic altogether (I actually have one already picked out this time! Go me!). Hopefully this has not left you feeling to distrustful and/or full of dislike towards all hiring campaigns geared towards Autistics/Aspies, as not all are this bad (and we should definitely demand for, and make good use of, those that are actually worth while). In the meantime, this continues to be, The Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week we will continue our look at a certain part of the issue of unemployment in the Autistic/Asperger community, mainly the poor workplace environment. Last week we left off, I was reviewing a section of an article going on about how we are a marginalized minority in the workforce living in a broken culture. Now let's continue off from last week with some good old-fashioned what-ifs on a social-justice scale. You know, fun stuff!
Who says political games can’t be fun? They’re fun for everyone under the sun! And by political games, don’t mean the ones where one person fights, lies and cheats their way to the top of political power. That's just fun in general.
Here's a surprise for you guys: did you know that it’s easier for people who are Autistic/Aspie to communicate with other people who are also Autistic/Aspie? No? Will apparently science is, or at least the people who performed a study on just such a topic, showing (duh) that its not our Autism/Asperger's that's the issue but rather our culture, lack of workplace Autistic/Aspie role models, managers and leaders. In other words, this is a classic case of “we told you so”, except now they are now finally listening to us rather than talking at us.. Like man-splaining, but for NT’s: NT-splaining (copyrighted by me). Here's a link to the findings of the study.
Need a clearer case of what I mean? Well imagine that the roles were reversed: most of the people in the workplace are not NT, but in fact are Autistic/Aspie. All the managers, board members and CEOs, right down to most of the average Joe worker’s are Autistic/Aspie. And you, my friend, are one of the view, or perhaps the only one, who is NT and hired to work for the company. You become, in effect, the token NT of the company, and become the one that they will constantly point to and say “see? We are an equal-opportunity employer, the NT community love us now that we have hired one of their own!”. All the while, of course, we try, subtly or otherwise, every day to change you and make you into one of us. From NT to Autistic/Aspie. Sound like a dark, sci-fi themed scenario? Yep.
Maybe not as dark as 1984 or a clock-work orange dark, but dark enough. Dusk-like dark perhaps, with the sun still shining through but still a lot of darkness around the edges.
The article gives this kind of scenario, or mentality, an interesting name: “Autism in the Workplace” (Paragraph 12, The Dark Side of Autism in the Workplace. See? I’m not the only one coming up with crazy names for certain events and scenarios. I just like to think that I do it better). Supporting Autistic/Aspie stereotypes, highlighting people with disabilities as somehow less than and in need of help, education and low-end work. All the while ignoring the vast majority of us who have some university/college degrees and have had some low-end jobs as well. As Kermit the Frog once said: It’s not easy being green.
Will, that does it for this week. Next week will be my last review of this subject, after which a list of my own personal thoughts on it will follow, because I think we can all agree when I say that the sound of my voice is beautiful. Then moving on to something completely different (Monty Python Reference). Until then, this continues to be, The Audacious Aspie.