An Interview with Aspergers Career Coach Barbara Bissonnette
Job counseling. It’s one of the most pressing topics for spectrum adults.
One of the best parts of my role here at Thrive with Aspergers is talking to experts from all walks of life.
In this episode, I talked to Barbara Bissonnette from Forward Motion Coaching about your questions.
Barbara joined the Thrive with Aspergers podcast in Episode 5, and she’s back to give us more advice!
Job Counseling Questions You Asked: And Barbara Answered
1. The statistics indicate that roughly 80% of autistics (people with autism, if you prefer – I don’t) are unemployed or underemployed. I wonder what the stats would really be, as most of us who function well enough to hold a job are not “affected enough” by autism to have been diagnosed (at all, or until later in life, or by self-diagnosis only). Therefore, we’ve been excluded from these statistics. Especially since Aspergers was not a recognized diagnosis until 1993 (I think), and was not absorbed into the autism diagnosis until the DSM-5 came out in 2013.
2. My kiddo is only 8 years old so we do have a ways to go before worrying about the real world stuff like how he will handle the ups and downs of a job but this is a topic that does interest me. I am curious if there is any types of training courses for people with Autism to help them adjust to the environments that they will be introduced to when entering into the work force? Are there certain jobs that prove to be more difficult for people who are on the spectrum? If so, should these types of jobs be avoided for first timers or would it be helpful to show them how to adapted and overcome some of the struggles in these particular careers?
3. With regard to the session on Aspergers and employment, I am really interested in tips on how to deal with a boss who is a bully. I know that changing jobs would be an obvious answer, but this isn’t really a viable option for me right now and, apart from my difficult boss, my job is not all that bad. I work part-time in a records management role, which in some ways is ideal for my obsession for detail, although there are other obsessions such as writing for a living that I’d rather be working in (but that is a work in progress!) However, I experience ongoing anxiety about what my boss is going to find wrong with me next, which colours every day of my work in this job. Add that to the over-stimulation of working in an office and I am generally pretty exhausted by the end of the week, even though I’ve only spent 3 8-hour days at the job. I don’t want to spend the rest of my working life in this job and also have a part-time business teaching Pilates (which I love but don’t want to do full-time). I am looking at my future work options and how to get there but in the meantime, I really need to make this job work for me as it is the main source of income for me and my husband and I can’t afford to just leave it.
4. Do you recommend that someone tell their employer they have been told by their therapist they have Aspergers? My concern is that my employer could potentially use it against me.
5. It seems my NT co-workers are much more proficient than I at playing the office politics. I generally ignore the politics and just focus on doing my work with excellence. However, I have found that this puts me at a disadvantage at times as I am not brought into the “inner circle” as often as my NT co-workers. What is the best way to deal with this situation?
Helpful Links and Resources
Forward Motion, Barbara Bissonette’s Coaching Site
Barbara’s free Aspergers employment help guides.
Listen to the following two episodes with Aspergian Dan Wendler for practical tips to improve your social skills at work:
And apply the growth mindset as you think about work.
Barbara’s Job Counseling Books:
Asperger’s Workplace Syndrome Survival Guide: A Neurotypical’s Secrets for Success, by Barbara Bissonnette.
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