Many adults with special needs, such as Asperger’s, who are in the work force have special talents, such as impressive visual alertness, a depth of knowledge and intense in specific areas of interest.
1. Social Language Skills (Pragmatic Language)
However, two areas are often difficult for people with Asperger’s. The first area is pragmatic or social language skills. These might include eye contact, giving and accepting compliments, knowing how to say “no” appropriately in various situations, understanding non-verbal cues such as body language, and making inferences from spoken information (the “unspoken message”). These skills may be even weaker if there is a noisy environment, or even simple repetitive noises such as a clock ticking.
There are many ways to improve these skills, depending on exactly which areas are difficult. For example, “Your paper is easy to read and understand” is better than “good paper”.
- People who have to work in a noisy environment might wear [easyazon-link asin=”B001M0O0FS” locale=”us”]earplugs[/easyazon-link] or a [easyazon-link asin=”B000U07C1U” locale=”us”]noise-cancelling headphone[/easyazon-link] that is plugged into either a white noise machine or nothing at all.
- People with poor eye contact may learn to look at someone ‘s forehead when the person speaks, if it is too difficult to look the person in the eyes.
- Changes in topic should be clearly indicated by supervisors or spouses. Phrases such as “On another topic….”, “A different aspect of this is …”, “Something else that we could do is…”
- People with Asperger’s may need to notice little details of workplace culture, such as whether everyone brings in a pound of coffee for the office coffeepot or treats once a month.
- They need to actively watch what others wear, to see if they are dressed appropriately.
Supervisors or colleagues may be willing to help explain workplace procedures by putting such information in a written memo, or an “office procedures” notebook.
2. Executive Function Skills
A second area that is often weak is executive function, or planning, sequencing and implementing tasks.
- An example of this is planning to go out to lunch with a colleague or customer. After a date and place have been decided, the person must ask the other person, get agreement on time, date and location, and often telephone in advance for reservations.
- Then time must be allocated for proper grooming and choosing of clothing, and meeting the other person at the agreed-on locale.
- In busy worksites, the problem may be doing paperwork on time, or planning a meeting
- Time management may be an issue, too. It may be hard for the person with Asperger’s to understand how long ten minutes really is, so he may be perpetually late. Use of devices such as weekly and monthly calendars, [easyazon-link asin=”B009OGYCIC” locale=”us”]vibrating watches[/easyazon-link] and [easyazon-link asin=”B000YL9M2C” locale=”us”]watches with medication reminders[/easyazon-link], as well as the [easyazon-link asin=”B000J5OFW0″ locale=”us”]TimeTimer©[/easyazon-link] are all helpful aids. Use of the reminder function and alarms on online calendars can be valuable.
- Counting time backwards from the goal can help a person decide how much time is needed and when to begin. For example, if a man needs to be at work at 8 AM, maybe he plans on arriving at 7:45 to be sure he has time to park and get to his office. It takes him 30 minutes to drive there at that time of day, so he leaves his home at 7:15.