You have just hired someone who has Asperger Syndrome, or perhaps you suspect so, and indeed he or she has very strong skills to match the job description. It is likely that you will be very pleased because people with Asperger Syndrome tend to have strong focus and commitment to a job well done.
To set up for office place success, you will find it pays off to invest in some training time, early on in some of those skills unrelated to the primary job, but fundamentally important to navigating the day at the office.
Here are seven straightforward strategies to help your new employee prosper and produce for your business.
1. Logical lists. As you see a routine or task that requires daily attention, log it on a list. Explaining the purpose behind the task may help it to become automatic. People with Asperger Syndrome like to make sense out of things.
2. Create a ‘cheat sheet’ for phone coverage. If want your employee to pinch hit on the phones, have a few generic phrases that work for your workplace, for example, “Can I have someone get back to you with that information?”
3. Be very specific about what you expect in general office matters. Help her to know where more and less flexibility is in order and appropriate in the daily flow of the work place. What routines must be done one way only? Observe, make notes and plan for periodic feedback time.
4. Be prepared to give your input with some of the smaller steps you may not typically think of stating. Gradually transfer responsibility and accountability to your employee, withdrawing your level of involvement as you see him catching on to the rhythms of your office place.
5. Help her become comfortable with the social culture of your workplace. People with Asperger tend to want to stay focused on tasks they enjoy. Being specific about when to go for breaks and lunch will be a guide for opportunities to personally connect with co-workers.
6. Have a set routine for evaluation and feedback sessions. Start the meeting by talking about the qualities you see in your new employee. “Here’s where your work is very well done. ” Be sensitive to feelings of past failure with social and organizational issues. Your employee with Asperger is probably quite familiar with his weaknesses, having heard about them and struggled with them in some other past setting. You can say “ Here’s where we will work together:”
7. Don’t be afraid to be blunt. It will be helpful. There is a distinction between ‘blunt’ and ‘rude. ’ He will appreciate and understand directness and clarity. If you are finding yourself repeating requests, you can say, “What plan can we come up with to help you establish routines that I have been reminding you about?”
For more tips and tools to help people with Asperger Syndrome in the work place see companion article Communication Tips to Help Your Employee with Asperger Syndrome Thrive in Your Work Place
Ellen Mossman-Glazer M. Ed. is a Life Skills Coach and Behavioral Specialist, specializing in Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, ADHD, and learning difficulties. Over her 20 years in special education classrooms and children's treatment settings, Ellen has seen the struggle that children have when they feel they don't fit in. She now works in private practice with people across the USA and Canada, by phone, teleconference groups and email, helping parents, educators, caregivers and their challenging loved ones, to find their own specific steps and tools to thrive. Ellen is the author of two on line e-zines, Emotion Matters: Tools and Tips for Working with Feelings and Social Skills: The Micro Steps. Subscribe for free and see more about Ellen at http://artofbehaviorchange.com/ You can take a free mini assessment which Ellen will reply to with your first action step.