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

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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