Autism and Employment

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WebMD released an article this week about the expectations and experiences of work for  adults on the autism spectrum. While the study has not been peer-reviewed yet, it does appear to offer a solid look at what the office environment feels like for a population who is (unfortunately) still trying to get their foot through the door.

I appreciate the fact that one of the biggest takeaways from this article for me was the fact that autistic adults were not completely sold on the idea of formally training employees about autism. This was mostly because they did not want to be singled out. This was also listed as the reason that they were hesitant about having a different rate of pay. While my trainings have been with non-profit volunteer teams who regularly interact with autistic individuals or families affected by autism, I can understand the hesitation of having an “autism training” at a for-profit company. It’s something for me to think about, for sure.

It is an interesting article overall, and the findings were presented this past Wednesday at the International Society for Autism Research’s annual meeting. The direct article link is below.

https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20180509/what-helps-adults-with-autism-get-and-keep-a-job#1

Being Aware/Autism Awareness Month

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Don’t worry, I didn’t miss the fact that April is Autism Awareness Month. Now that I’m settled, I wanted to give my own take on the month.

I saw this quote a few days ago, and it stuck with me. I’ve experienced this recently myself, and it does make you laugh when people think that they know you and actually don’t have a clue.

This was one of the first lessons I learned working with special needs children, particularly those on the autism spectrum. I had to learn that a vast majority of my clients knew exactly what they needed; the problem was that us “experts” weren’t listening. We were assuming that we knew what they needed. So naturally, we were met with resistance. For some of these so-called experts, the solution to that resistance is to push back harder, to literally break the spirit of the client so that they conform. Even in the beginning, I had an issue with this.

Instead, I chose to drop into the client’s world. I wanted to see how they saw things. While I can probably never know exactly how the world is to them, this simple state of being made me more aware of their awareness. The repeated actions aren’t mindless, but an attempt to regulate (same as how neurotypicals have quirks like biting our nails when nervous…except here you’re nervous most of the time). In doing this, I also quickly learned to never talk about them (in a negative way, especially) within earshot, because just like anyone else, they can tell if you’re talking about them. They may not be able to verbally tell you, but trust me, it will come out in some way. I’ve had to remind many parents and peers about this.

Finally, having said all of that…they can tell you more about themselves that I ever could. In these final days of April, I urge you to follow an autistic individual’s blog, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. You will see, hear, and feel the struggles and triumphs from those who live it, rather than those who work with them. I’ve included a few I follow that are awesome people (and yes, the number of women listed was kind of on purpose). If you are on the spectrum and have a social media presence (or know someone who does), leave your links in the comments as well. I’m going to try and highlight more of your voices going forward!

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/astimmypuzzlepiece/

https://www.instagram.com/girlonthespectrum/

 

Blogs/Sites:

https://davidsnape.me

https://neurodivergentrebel.com

Settling In

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*Pretty accurate depiction of what the view was like for most of my road trip, give or take a few highway lanes. 

Sorry for the lack of updates! My main focus has been this move from CA to FL, which finally happened late last week. After dwindling my belongings down to whatever fits inside a Mazda 3, driving a huge chunk of I-10, and trying to adjust to the multiple time zones I had just rode/driven through, I am finally feeling a bit more centered.

I stumbled upon this article on girls with autism that I wanted to share. I find it interesting because it is from Australia, and they have developed a separate set of guidelines for diagnosing girls/women on the autism spectrum. Having had autistic girls as clients in the past, their guidelines look pretty spot on to me.

I do believe that it’ll take a special set of guidelines to diagnose girls and women, and I think this will go double for minority girls and women who already tend to get the short end of the diagnostic stick. In any case, it’s a good, quick read and a piece that I think practitioners here in the States should take note of.

Girls with autism flying under the radar

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/when-mother-and-daughter-are-both-on-autism-spectrum/9662966

Video: Autism in the Workplace

This is a video from CBS about some of the programs major companies like Microsoft and SAP are using to invite and grow autistic talent to them. I attended part of  last year’s Autism at Work conference mentioned in the video, and it was a very inspiring and informative experience. Here’s my blog post about that experience.

Thanks to @beautmindstalk for posting this, and for the follow!

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-growing-acceptance-of-autism-in-the-workplace/

Tuesday Thoughts

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I think Tuesday posts are going to be the days where all of my not-quite-realized post ideas are going to go. So, without further adieu…

  • Reading the thoughts of a young adult on the spectrum (via Facebook) has been one of the biggest eye openers for me, because he brings up situations and viewpoints that I never conceived of.
  • The autism world with regards to therapeutic approaches is becoming increasingly marginalized. It’s like being in a circle surrounded by base camps…and you are either not invited to them, or you don’t quite agree with them. Interesting position to be in…and a great launching space to create your own base camp.
  • A parent told me that she was confused when someone asked her what her son’s “special gift” was. She shrugged and replied, “I told her that I didn’t know what it was or what she meant.” I glanced at him, looked back at her, and thought, “Spatial intelligence.” I don’t really see them as gifts, though.
  • I follow several families on the @sparcguidance on Instagram. They are all composed of pure awesome, and I love that they are sharing their journeys. It’s not easy and not for everyone, but I appreciate it.
  • A 2-minute questionnaire has been developed by researchers at Rutgers University that could identify autism in children much younger than the average age of around 5 years old. You can read more about the questionnaire here and here. This is fascinating, especially since it appeared accurate across different socioeconomic groups. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the questions are in layman’s terms, as opposed to overly academic or analytic jargon.
  • Finally, a multiple intelligence note: As I’ve mentioned in my post on spatial intelligence, I’ve noticed that quite a few of my clients have been above average or exceptional in this category, regardless of sex, race, etc. It is not the easiest intelligence to spot, though. So here is a tip for parents: Someone with high spatial intelligence is often good at building, but they may be also really good at directions and orientating themselves to areas. They are really good at games that focus on spatial strategy (like Blockus or Tetris-like games), and can probably help with putting things together, be it a Lego set or that new chair for the living room. The key to remember in any of the intelligences, though, is that the person enjoys it. If they love it and are good at it, you have potentially found their purpose.

Programing Note: We’re on the lookout for guest bloggers, so please drop us a line at sparcguidance@gmail.com if you want to write something about autism, multiple intelligence, life purpose, etc.  We’re also working on our first workshop on multiple intelligence and uncovering them! We will give more information once everything is finalized, but we are definitely excited about it!

Have a great week!

Naturalistic: Connect To Nature

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I’m currently in the process of testing out my Find Your Intelligence assessment, and a peer of mine offered to be a guinea pig. About 10 minutes later, she was staring at me in mild shock over the results. Her top intelligence area was Naturalistic, something that she wasn’t expecting at all.

We talked about what exactly that meant for her. In essence, she is both energized and calmed by being in nature. She spoke of how often she goes into nature to hike, swim, or just walk. As a child, she loved to climb trees and take care of her animals. It was present in nearly every aspect of her life so far, and when those activities were absent, she realized how much more stressful her life would become. In the end, I recommended that she try to do something “in nature” as often as she could during the week, even if it was just a walk outside around the block. A week later, she was still in awe of how she had missed such an obvious aspect of her life and happiness.

For those with naturalist intelligence, nature is like a reset button. I think this is the case for most human beings, but it goes double for those that are high in this intelligence. They need to connect to the living world regularly. It could be as simple as the aforementioned walk, or as intense as snowboarding or mountain climbing. Regardless, it is the interaction with nature that brightens them. For some, it also becomes a focus of exploration and fascination, and they become scientists and educators of nature. Regardless, nature helps them bring out their best.

I am always looking for others to try out the FYI assessment, so you can email me at sparcguidance@gmail.com if you’re curious about it. While there are formal sessions and classes available, I also love just chatting about the MI theory and where other think they fall on it!

So, what are you waiting for, Naturalistics? Get outside!

Psychology Today: “Change Artists”

Count on one of the parents of a client to spot this before I did. 🙂

I am proud to be featured in Psychology Today’s cover story, “Change Artists,” for their February 2018 issue. I did my interview (through email and phone) months ago, and had almost forgotten about it. I had no idea that it was going to be a cover story, though!

The article speaks to several people about how they were able to change their lives or their overall view of life. My part involved me talking about some of my insecurities, which is something I rarely talk about outside of friends, and how I overcame them. I am about halfway, and again near the end, as Angel Wilson.

Overall, it’s a really good article and while long, is worth the read. I hope it inspires a lot of people! Thank you to the author Abby Ellin; you did an amazing job, even while being sick! 🙂

Psychology Today: Change Artists

New Year Prep: 2018 Edition

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Hello! Whew, we made it through 2017!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week full of holiday festivities!

With 2018 right around the corner (like, literally), I will be doing some tweaking of things on the site. I’m not sure if I want a brand new layout or not, but I’m playing around with the idea.

I will also be looking into collaborating with other bloggers to do guests posts, making/posting videos, and giving case studies. In other words, it’s about to get a lot more interactive!

Finally, I really want to do some workshops in several possible areas, including LA, the Bay Area, South Florida, and even New York City. I will keep everyone posted!

So while I may be quiet for the next week or so, trust that I am working on really making SPARC Guidance into something amazing. I hope all of you join me for the ride.

Have a wonderful, fun, and safe New Year, and I will see everyone in 2018!

 

The MI Series (Bonus): Existential

We have covered the eight main areas of Multiple Intelligence, but there is an ninth area that is still under debate and has not been made official: Existential.

While the other areas are far more concrete and fairly easy to show and measure, this proposed intelligence can be open for wide interpretation. Howard Gardner describes this area as being characterized by “capturing and pondering the fundamental questions of existence” (Human Intelligence, p. 22). He admits readily that this area needs more evidence in order for it to qualify as an intelligence.

The default assumption is that this is referencing a sort of “spiritual intelligence,” but spirituality is not really mentioned in Gardner’s idea of it above. Religion is not mentioned, either. Right there, two of the major ideas that most of us have when it comes to this type of intelligence are more or less thrown out. Being religious does not necessarily equal high Existential Intelligence.

By this definition, plenty of scientists could possibly fit into this category, which could easily shift it into the Logical/Mathematical or even Naturalist areas. Looking strictly on the spiritual side could yield people ranging from the Pope to Deepak Chopra, and all the way to religious cults if taken far enough. All of those just listed could also easily fall into Interpersonal or Verbal/Linguistic. It is a slippery slope.

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The idea of such an intelligence, though, is intriguing. I personally think that it should be explored further. Even if it doesn’t end up being its own intelligence category, it could become a subcategory, or perhaps just an area of exploration for further study.

And that wraps up the Multiple Intelligence blog series! If you missed any of the previous posts in the series, I will link them just below. I hope you learned a little bit more about this amazing theory, the different ways of looking at intelligence, and gained some insight into my practice and approach. As always, feel free to email me at sparcguidance@gmail.com, or visit the main site at sparcguidance.com.

Previous entries in The MI (Multiple Intelligence) Series: Spatial, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Musical, Logical/Mathematical, Naturalistic, Bodily-Kinesthetic, and Verbal/Linguistic.

Additional Reading

Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Howard Gardner. BasicBooks, 1983.

ThoughtCo. article (very good overview of Existential Intelligence, and what it looks like in action)

The Second Principle (another really good exploration of the implications of an Existential Intelligence)

Photo Credit: My own 🙂

The MI Series: Bodily-Kinesthetic

Occupational therapy has always been an interesting area to me, because of how much it covers. In my field, it deals with sensory, with knowing one’s physical space in the environment, and with using both gross and fine motor skills to achieve independence-related skills and goals. For the same reasons, the area of multiple intelligence called Bodily-Kinesthetic has also been interesting to me.

MI theory author Howard Gardner describes this area as being characterized by “controlling and orchestrating body motions and handling objects skillfully” (Human Intelligence, p.22). These are the individuals who have an almost uncanny control of their body and how it moves. They are also excellent at expressing themselves through it.

Naturally, many dancers easily fall into this category. I would also consider some actors to be in this category as well, particularly the overly physical ones. Martial artists and athletes can be included as well. Venus and Serena Williams, Jackie Chan, and Misty Copeland are all examples.

For those on the autism spectrum, this area of intelligence can manifest in a different way…as a mechanism for calming, energizing, and organizing themselves. Jumping, swinging, running, rocking…these are all ways of making sense of the disorganization that their bodies often subject them to. They are needed strategies, sometimes disregarded or discouraged by those in our field, that help in day to day existence.

I wanted to leave you with a nod to some of my friends’ recent interests. There is a K-Pop (Korean pop) group called BTS making significant waves in the music industry across the planet, and their wave has now hit the States. I’ve watched a few of their performances, and many of them have an amazing command of this category of intelligence, even after being told in the past that they didn’t. The group practices up to 12 hours a day, and it shows. There some other intelligences at play in this video as well. Can you spot them?

We’ve made it through the main 8 areas, but there is one more that is still up for debate: Existential. That will be the final entry in this series. If you missed my entires on Spatial, Interpersonal, IntrapersonalNaturalistic, MusicalVerbal/Linguistic, or Logical/Mathematical,be sure to check those out as well. As always, you can go to my Classes page to see what services I offer, or contact me at sparcguidance@gmail.com.

Additional Reading

Frames of Mind, The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Howard Gardner. BasicBooks, 1983.

BK Overview (quick look at traits and possible career paths)

BK Intelligence (a slightly more detailed look at the BK Intelligence)

Video Credit: PopCrush on YouTube