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8 Reasons Why You Should Hire Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome

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8 Reasons Why You Should Hire Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome

When you hear the word Asperger’s, what kind of person do you think of?

Asperger’s Syndrome (ASP) is a type of mild autism that affects an average of 1 in 88 children in the US. In popular media, there are certain stereotypes attributed to people with Asperger’s (just think of Sheldon Cooper from TV’s Big Bang Theory). Often, due to their unusual gifts and behavior, highly creative and gifted people are labeled with Asperger’s, especially if they are socially awkward.

Furthermore, there’s been a trend recently where “experts” diagnose famous people with Asperger’s posthumously. The list of “diagnosed” includes Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, George Washington, and many others. Obviously, such post-mortem diagnoses are nonsense. Diagnosing Asperger’s is a difficult process and such diagnosis can only be established by psychiatrists or psychologists. They typically use specialized psychoeducational assessments to diagnose Asperger’s syndrome.

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Asperger’s is clearly not a simple condition. It can be difficult for coworkers of people with Asperger’s to understand. Many employers are obviously concerned about how someone with Asperger’s will socially fit in as part of the team. In fact, roughly 80% of people with Asperger’s do not have full-time work. However, the truth is that people with Asperger’s can be valuable assets to any company, as long as the social limitations of Asperger’s are understood. Actually, the behavioral traits that often come along with Asperger’s can prove to be great strengths in the right positions.

Here are 8 reasons why you should hire someone with Asperger’s.

1. Excellent long-term memory

Positions that require a lot of short-term memory can be difficult for people with Asperger’s; however, this is balanced out by the fact that people with Asperger’s often have excellent long-term memory and an astonishing ability to recall details. That’s part of why so many people with the syndrome are able to become experts in a particular field. The stress of tasks that do require short-term memory can be reduced by providing written instruction, color-coded instructions, and a quiet workspace free of distractions.

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2. Ability to focus on details and accuracy

People with Asperger’s often have difficulty multi-tasking, but this is made up for in their ability to focus on the minute details of a project with accuracy. This makes people with Asperger’s particularly good for jobs that require an acute attention to detail, like computer programming, engineering, handcrafts, accounting, copy editing, commercial art, and a whole whack of other jobs, depending on their strengths and interests.

3. Ability to recognize patterns that others cannot

This ties in with an attention to detail. Because people with Asperger’s are able to focus on projects on an up-close, detailed level, they can often recognize patterns that others who focus on the bigger picture may miss.

4. Often comfortable with doing a lot of solitary work

Asperger’s can make it difficult and stressful for individuals with the syndrome to work in a crowded and busy environment. That’s why people with the syndrome are often comfortable with putting in long hours on solitary work, whereas other people would get lonely or bored working by themselves. In fact, many people with Asperger’s work best in spaces where they only have to conduct one-on-one interactions and are able to communicate primarily by email. This can be useful for positions like computer programming, drafting, janitorial work, and handcrafts.

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5. Strong logic and analytical skills

A common trait of Asperger’s is to become fixated on a certain subject, project, or task. The ability to apply extreme focus to one task means that people with Asperger’s may look more closely and analytically at something than others. This enables them to solve problems and make connections on a detailed level. These skills come in handy for technical careers, like mathematicians, engineers, analysts, as well as careers like journalism and web design.

6. Ability to tolerate repetitive tasks and routines

Tasks that are repetitive and follow a regular routine are less stressful and distracting than tasks that require constantly switching gears. People with Asperger’s often don’t mind completing repetitive tasks and routines. This makes them good for positions like telemarketing, clerk and filing jobs, factory assembly work, restocking shelves, data entry, and more.

7. Ability to think outside of the box and find creative solutions

People with Asperger’s have a unique perspective of the world. Hans Asperger, the German doctor who discovered the syndrome, believed that people with the syndrome were some of the most creative people, having the “ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical and to rethink a subject with originality.” This can make them great entrepreneurs, tech creators, artists, and academics. These are fields where quirky and unique perspectives are valued.

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8. A strong sense of perseverance

People with Asperger’s face a unique set of challenges. Because of that, they have to work hard to get to the same position as someone without Asperger’s would. Penelope Trunk, a successful entrepreneur with Asperger’s, says that in order for people with Asperger’s to have a successful career, they need to be very good at something so that others will accept their quirks. This necessity drove her to work hard to become an expert at starting companies.

Everyone is different

Probably the most important thing to remember is that every person is different. It’s important that employers and coworkers recognize the benefits that people with Asperger’s syndrome can offer when placed in the right role. That said, they shouldn’t expect every person with Asperger’s to be good at the same things. Expectations based on stereotypes can put undue pressure on people with the syndrome, who may feel that they won’t live up to the expectations of others.

The behavioral traits of one person with Asperger’s can vary greatly from another. This can range from being shy and having difficulty with social interactions, to being charming and talkative, just with a tendency of asking too many questions. Get to know the person for who they are as an individual and embrace the unique talents that they have to offer.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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