Work Accommodations

I really like this graphic that a friend of mine posted about accommodations for adults on the autism spectrum in the workplace. I also realize that not all of these can be logically met by every company, but having worked myself in conditions ranging from “interesting” to “Spirit, help me,” I think a lot of these could benefit a wide range of employees.

I, for one, am NOT a fan of florescent lights…ugh.

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This graphic is brought to you by the Autism Women’s Network.

Also, check out my Autism page, which just got its August update!

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 While the study has not been peer-reviewed yet, it does appear to offer a solid look at what the office environment feels like for a population who is (unfortunately) still trying to get their foot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

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/

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

Race and Autism Diagnosis: Study

We need to talk about this.

Being African-American and working in the autism field, I have certainly noticed that there are very few of my race that I have treated and worked with in my decade in the field. In fact, I can count the number of black clients that I’ve had on one hand. It begs the question of why. This study I read about today starts to shed light on this question.

In the article about the study (both are linked below), “white parents were 2.61 times more likely to report a social concern and 4.12 times more likely to report a concern about restricted and repetitive behaviors” than black parents. They didn’t go too deeply into why, but from experience I can think of a few reasons.

First, there is an idea floating through my community that autism is a “white people” condition. The low diagnosis rate in the black community (which has its own reasons below) is cited as the reason for this belief. This is part of a much larger problem with the community: lack of trust in the medical field, and a belief in long disproven theories about autism. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to disprove the autism/vaccine connection theory with my own people.

Second, the black and brown communities are simply not getting educated about autism (probably partly due to the reason above). Because of this, they are often unaware of the more obvious symptoms that were mentioned in the article and the study. In many cases, the symptoms are dismissed as the child misbehaving or just being “not quite right” (I’ve heard this one more than I care to admit). This sets up for a later diagnosis, which leads to delayed treatment, which leads to a more difficult time overall.

I hope to be one who expands the awareness and acceptance of autism into my own community; it could help enhance the lives of a still unknown number of autistic individuals that stand in the midst of the African-American community.

 

Race and Autism Diagnosis study

Article on study by MedicalXress

The MI Series: Logical/Mathematical

In all of Howard Gardner’s areas of his Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory, this is the intelligence that I feel is most associated with autism by the general public. This is a category of specifics, of the concrete, so it makes sense that this would be an ideal area for those on the autism spectrum.

Gardner describes this intelligence as being characterized by “confronting and assessing objects and abstractions and discerning their relations and underlying principles” (Human Intelligence, p. 22). In other words, logical/mathematical focuses on the ability to see the relationships between objects or items and what those relationships involve. As one could guess, this could easily involve a number of fields and areas of study.

One of the best examples of this intelligence in an autistic individual would be Jacob “Jake” Barnett. I first learned about him through his mother Kristine’s book, The Spark, a couple of years ago. Jake is now 19, has led TED talks, and is one of the youngest astrophysicists in the world (if not the youngest). In the beginning, though, experts in the autism field told his parents only of his limitations and what he would never be able to do. His mother decided to fuel his budding interest in science, and Jake blossomed into a highly intelligent, verbal, and well-adjusted young man. His areas of multiple intelligence are firmly in the logical/mathematical category.

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Naturally, scientists of all types and mathematicians fall easily into the logical/mathematical categories. Another great example in this category is Albert Einstein, who has long been suspected of being on the autism spectrum himself. It can easily fold into other areas of intelligence like spatial and naturalistic.

The next category up will be Bodily-Kinesthetic. If you missed my entires on Spatial, Interpersonal, IntrapersonalNaturalistic, Musical, or Verbal/Linguistic, be sure to check those out as well. As always, you can go to my Classes page to see what services I offer.

Additional Reading

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

Overview of Logical/Mathematical intelligence (quick overview on the intelligence area/learners in this area)

Checklist of the characteristics and careers for those in Logical/Mathematical

 

 

Photo Credit: The Plaid Zebra’s article on Jacob

The MI Series: Verbal/Linguistic

I hope my U.S. readers enjoyed their Thanksgiving break! I took it off as well, and now I’m back with another intelligence category that is near and dear to my heart: verbal/linguistic.

The MI theory’s author, Howard Gardner, has a simple definition for this intelligence: “A mastery and love of language and words with a desire to explore them” (Human Intelligencep. 22). Those of us who consider ourselves to be writers embody this definition. We adore words, love to learn about all kinds of words, and often use them for no reason other than the fact that they are there to use so…why not? Language is beautiful to us, and learning a new way to express ourselves with it is an amazing, beautiful rush.

Naturally, writers of all kinds fall into this intelligence: fiction, non-fiction, poets, rappers, speechwriters, and often journalists. I think that public and motivational speakers fall into this one as well, since their command of the language is just expressed verbally instead of in written form.

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So, can autism find a place in this intelligence? Absolutely. Some of the best wordsmiths I’ve encountered online how been autistic writers on their blogs. It can often be easier to express in writing what cannot be easily said; I myself find writing easier sometimes than speaking. All of us seem to notice a similar small drawback, though, especially in fiction writing: the written word can sometimes restrict what we see in our mind’s eye.

The next category up will be Logical-Mathematical. If you missed my entires on Spatial, Interpersonal, IntrapersonalNaturalistic, or Musical, be sure to check those out as well. As always, you can go to my Classes page to see what services I offer.

Additional Reading

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

EduNova Verbal/Linguistic post (great overview of this intelligence)

Connection Academy on “Word Smarts” (there’s a great example of how to carryover a verbal/linguistic skill into other areas of intelligence)

 

Photo Credit: YouTube video on Verbal/Linguistic intelligence