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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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