Saturday, February 18, 2012

autism in the workplace: Ne'eman's at it again

I've previously written about Ari Ne'eman, an individual in his early 20s who has never had paid employment. In spite of his total lack of experience working, he seems to feel qualified to give input on solving the problems of unemployment among persons with autism.

As I mentioned before, one of Ne'eman's solutions was to eliminate social pleasantry as a hiring criteria or use it to evaluate an individual's work performance. Any individual who has spent even the briefest time in any workplace knows having good social skills is necessary to be and stay employed. No employer or fellow co-workers are going to overlook poor social skills and be patient with an autistic person who shouts at them, makes inappropriate comments or gropes women in the workplace. As John Robison pointed out in the comments section, no amount of legislation is ever going to change this.

It seems that Mr. Ne'eman is at it again, giving a presentation at the autism works conference on how people with autism can get and keep jobs.

It appears, in spite of my blog post, he has not given up on this idea. He presents a concept he refers to as "social architecture", borrowing from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The analogy he uses is the legal requirement that ramps be required for persons who use wheel chairs and in the same vein, autistics poor social skills can be accommodated in the workplace.

However, this apples to hurricanes analogy indeed falls flat. Social skills aren't walking and mobility. There is no way that the autistics' faux pas can be accommodated for in the workplace as mentioned above. Ne'eman seems quite vague in how this can be done. He does not seem to provide any specific analogy for wheel chair ramps, because there isn't one. There is no treatment that can mitigate the persons social skills. All the wishful thinking in the world on Ne'eman's part isn't going to make society overlook them.

Another issue, is that lack of social ability is probably not the largest factor in an autistics' inability to obtain employment. The impairments that prevented me from concentrating on work also lead to my termination from various positions. The fact that I and others like myself are too impaired to get adequate education and training for most jobs is yet another major issue. Ne'eman and other members of ASAN with virtually no work experience don't address these issues at all in their programs to help autistics find and keep jobs.

Ne'eman is also developing a resume bank designed for college graduates on the spectrum. However, I wonder about the percentage of autistics who actually graduate college with a four year degree. I strongly suspect it's quite low. Even for those high-functioning enough to obtain this education, there may not be much on a resume that is of use as most of them are quite young and don't have much experience in the career they're trying to pursue. Ne'eman is approaching a variety of private firms and attempting to address the issues of social barriers---the only comment I have is good luck in that endeavor.

Also, the mortgage company Freddie Mac has apparently entered into an agreement with ASAN to provide internships for those on the spectrum, Interestingly, Ne'eman is claiming these internships are paid positions, which seems odd as usually interns are people who volunteer in order to get experience.

It's interesting the neurodiversity movement would pick an organization that with its encouragement of subprime interest loans to persons who could never afford houses likely helped caused the largest economic crisis since the great depression. This organization (along with its sister Fannie Mae)went broke and cost the taxpayers more than 170 billion bucks in a bailout that has never been paid back. Gee, ASAN, you sure now how to pick a winner. I suspect an association with Freddie mac would be a liability on someone's resume, not an asset as Ne'eman is claiming, though I suppose I might be wrong about that.

As an individual on the spectrum who had great difficulty in the workplace, I resent Ne'eman discussing issues which he himself has no personal experience or knowlege. I don't believe it's productive for individuals to put up a conference offering simplistic solutions to real and hard problems.

I wish Ne'eman would go out and get a real job and actually get some life experience and work experience before trying to propose remedies.

19 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_workplaceviolence.php

Workplace harassment means:

•Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

Socrates said...

Ne'eman's position makes perfect sense if one is a slightly-autistic child from an exceptionally privileged upper-middle class family.

There is rather more to autism in adults that social skill issues.

And him and his gang continue to promote an idea of autism that is far removed from the reality. Has he actually been to an autistics' care home yet?

......I'm Anonymous said...

Ne'eman's autism is highly suspect. After interviewing him for hours I didn't see any trace of autism.

Ne'eman has refused to visit autism centric homes or schools as I extended an all expenses paid visit to one to him several years ago and he refused.

I think its quite obvious that Ne'eman isn't really concerned with autism, he's concerned with Ne'eman.

Nicole Gamble said...

Thanks so much for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Want more.

Charlote said...

Jonathan, I too share in these same concerns, how many autistic kids graduate from college? Do they get jobs? I have a daughter with autism and not only am I mulling over these questions, but I am trying to teach her basic social skills. It has been a challenge so far, but I have found some good advice on http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-pcs that only provides me with ways I can help my daughter.

Cube Angel said...

"Interestingly, Ne'eman is claiming these internships are paid positions, which seems odd as usually interns are people who volunteer in order to get experience."

Actually, there are such thing as paid internships.

"Even for those high-functioning enough to obtain this education, there may not be much on a resume that is of use as most of them are quite young and don't have much experience in the career they're trying to pursue."

This isn't just an autistic problem. A lot of college student graduates have ran into this issue. This is one reason we have occupy wall street. The system is broken Jonathan and has been for a long time. To put it more bluntly we as americans are fucked.

Mom of Autistic son said...

I can safely say that I am highly irritated that people like him are representing autism. My teenage son is non-verbal and we are thankful that he is toilet-trained. I am home-schooling him because the only alternative for his level is an institution like school that would only worsen his behavior challenges. We are NOT thinking college and workplace in this neck of the woods. I feel like this guy is an opportunist and is masking the real problems faced by severely autistic individuals in order to establish a platform for himself. The general public will think barely autistic people like him are the norm. Arggh!

Anonymous said...

Well me old pal me old beauty, I am posting anonymously so that no one has the remotest idea who I am (irony intended) but I have to say this much, but you know, fat ladies singing and all the rest there is that classic scene in King Lear which ends with the stage direction "Exeunt with a dead March"

Mr Neeman had best not become the poor fool who went to bed at noon.

JediKnight2 said...

All autistics a part of Neurodiversity are opportunists.

Cube Angel said...

"Any individual who has spent even the briefest time in any workplace knows having good social skills is necessary to be and stay employed. "

Do you literally mean no matter what job a person has this statement is always true? If yes, then my question is why? Why must one be an excellent salesman in order to obtain a job these days?


"No employer or fellow co-workers are going to overlook poor social skills "

Depending upon the situation why not?


"and be patient with an autistic person who shouts at them"

When we mean shouting do we mean shouting in anger or the autistic's voice is naturally louder than most people? If the voice is louder than average than why don't anyone tell the autistic person they are talking to loud. If I am told I am talking to loud I will lower my voice. There is no problem there. Why is it so much of a bother to tell a person to lower his or her voice?

", makes inappropriate comments "

Why is American society so inundated and obsessed about what comments are appropriate and inappropriate? Why do we have so much political correctness? Why does it seem like people become offended and have their panties in a wad at the slightest little thing they don't like?

Jonathan, What happened to being able to doing the damn job? Jonathan, you are a victim of a system in which you have to use double-speak, manipulations and deceptions in order to suceed. In one job I was doing at a school I noticed on a poster in the classroom of a school that had a quote. It said "Your attitude matters more than the facts." Something is rotten in the state of Denmarck.

"or gropes women in the workplace"

Let the autistic person know. Talk to them about it. This should go for anyone. Why can't they be given a verbal reprimand and a warning. In fact, nip this in the bud before hand with all of the employees there?

Cube Angel said...

"Engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome."

This is ambigious.

Let's look at the definition of vexatious.
1.Causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry.
2.Denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the...

I assume you mean definition number 1. What could cause me frustration may not case you frustration. This is the same thing with annoyance and worry. This is relative to every individual. How does one keep to the law and rules when the rules are ambigious and open to interpretation? How would it would be known or reasonable known to be unwelcome if what frustrates, annoys, or worries an individual differs by each individual?

jonathan said...

Not saying one has to be an excellent salesman, just have to know how to behave in an appropriate manner. Groping someone in the workplace is serious and does not deem a warning, particularly if the person with autism has limited control of their behavior and I do personally know of one individual this has happened to.

Autistic persons often have louder than average voice. also, anger management issues which might cause them to shout at someone over things non-handicapped people might find more trivial. A warning might be nice, but it is just not realistic.

Asking people personal questions or saying inappropriate things is just unacceptable to a lot of people. We may wish otherwise, but that is just the way society is. Contrary to what members of the neurodiversity movement such as yourself may believe, society is not going to completely change just to accommodate the person with autism.

Cube Angel said...

Not saying one has to be an excellent salesman, just have to know how to behave in an appropriate manner.

What is appropriate and why is it appropriate?

"Groping someone in the workplace is serious and does not deem a warning, particularly if the person with autism has limited control of their behavior and I do personally know of one individual this has happened to. "

Why do they have limited control of their behavior? Is it like tourrettes but in which their hands move involuntary? If this person can't why hasn't the system considered him a danger to others and himself?

"Autistic persons often have louder than average voice. "

Why are we punished severely for this? Why do you accept this?

"also, anger management issues which might cause them to shout at someone over things non-handicapped people might find more trivial. A warning might be nice, but it is just not realistic."

Why do they have anger management issues? So do a lot of normal people as well. I have heard of somone who is a lawyer who scored 0 on empathy, is not on the autism spectrum and she has rage issues herself. Even normal people do inappropriate things? Why are autistics punished serverly?

"Asking people personal questions or saying inappropriate things is just unacceptable to a lot of people."

Why?

We may wish otherwise, but that is just the way society is.

Why is society this way?

"Contrary to what members of the neurodiversity movement such as yourself may believe, society is not going to completely change just to accommodate the person with autism."

Here is the thing. I am the type of man who wants to know why the sky is blue and the grass is green. For me, on top of my aspergers I have this as a curse. I want to understand the very essence of life, people, and existence itself. I don't blame society for my problems I blame my problems on wanting to know the reasoning behind everything. For me, it is insatiable.

You say this is the way society is but I ask why must it be this way? Are you telling me that the we as Americans can't do any better? Why can't we as Americans do better? You have more in common with non-disabled people than you think you do. You accept the status quo and you put it on the pedestal of perfection like it is a religion and a god. A lot of people do this as well.

Why is the rule of politese more important in America then trying to obtain some truth? In America, why does my attitude have extremely higher precedence than the actual facts themselves?

Why aren't society's rules, social moores, beliefs and values never open to debate, challenge, examination, or even clarification?

For me, it isn't simply about neurodiversity and even acceptance. I'm simply just trying to understand.

Even with neurodiversity, I have questions about it myself. You like a lot of others say life is unfair. I ask what exactly is the essence of fairness? Why is life unfair? Why do they accept that as well as though it is immutable? Why do you? Why do they not want to change this truth? Anyone who attempts to try to change this or challenge this is seen as ignoble. Again, I ask why?

Cube Angel said...

I have another question. Unless, I am mistaken society provides a living to the intellectually disabled. If we, including you, are so inept and disabled then why don't we receive the same fringe benefits as the intellectually disabled? Why is it that all we receive is hatred and scorn?

It is said that autistics are inept in just about a lot things. If that is so why are we all still expected to go out there and give it a go at all? Why are the intellectually disabled entitled to being provided a living yet we are not? Why does the double mindedness exist? Why the inconsistency?

jonathan said...

Cube: you ask a lot of hard questions to which there are no easy answers to. I wish I had them, but I don't.

Socrates said...

Cube, I've got benzodiazepeans that cure a lot of those issues for me. Unfortunately they are more addictive than heroin and sudden withdrawal can kill...

Why don't we get more help? Well, we're difficult to work with - stubborn, particular to to point of impossibility. By the time we get to adulthood we are pretty psychologically screwed.

We are (in my opinion) some of the most challenging people to work with in the mental health/social care system.

Usually we are just left to drug and drink ourselves into oblivion and die homeless on the streets - or end up in prison for ermm... inappropriate behaviour...

Shit, I'd rather be dead than living with this fucked up brain.

For the time being the drugs keep me going, and then there's always the option of going back on the 40's...

For people who are significantly disabled by autism, life is shit unless you got a rich family to look after and provide for you.

I don't and it sucks big-time.

Cube Angel said...

"Why don't we get more help? Well, we're difficult to work with - stubborn, particular to to point of impossibility. By the time we get to adulthood we are pretty psychologically screwed.

We are (in my opinion) some of the most challenging people to work with in the mental health/social care system."

How is this so? What about the hard core psychopath. I thought they would be. How are we trully stubborn? I personally want to comply. Here is the thing. How can one comply with what one does not grasp nor understand? Even Jonathan could not answer my question.

Socrates, my conclusion is one's success in America depends upon one's ability and willingness in various degrees to capitulate, conform and compromise. Those who are able to ace the interviews are the ones who are the best at showing no pretese that they will not challenge authority whatsoever.

My other conclusion is one's success in America depends upon how much one is able to be willing and able to manipulate, use double-speak, and to deceive.

Cube Angel said...

"Cube: you ask a lot of hard questions to which there are no easy answers to. I wish I had them, but I don't."

This is an excellent answer. It is rare if someone says that they do not know. This is a rare commodity. Most people I have questioned end up screaming, cursing at me, ignoring me, or yelling. Only one other person has told me that they do not know.

Jonathan, if you can't answer my questions then you have to see that something is wrong. Something is rotten in the state of Denmarck.

I believe this new corporate model that America is operating under is very recent. Before this model there was the old ma and pop stores. The rules have changed Jonathan and this new model would have a person believe(not just those on the spectrum) that if a person is having problems succeeding with this new model then it is this person's fault. Why? Are these employers and is this model ever wrong?

Why is it inappropriate to question, examine, debate, or even to talk about this new corporate model? Why does one have to talk doublespeak, be manipulative, and deceive? Yet, we autistics are considered the problem. Again, why?

Cube Angel said...

http://www.enotalone.com/forum/showthread.php?t=167171&page=7&p=1614740&viewfull=1#post1614740

http://www.enotalone.com/forum/showthread.php?t=167171&page=9&p=1616143&viewfull=1#post1616143

Please take a look at what svrcrow is saying. Some of the things he is saying is similar to what I am saying. I believe he is correct.

When you had to go for a job did you ever have to take a personality test? I have and the questions are context sensitive. Even my worktec who is partnered with voc rehab tried to help me take such a test. She found it difficult herself.

Even a female manager at staples that she knows had major problems with the personality test as well. She said if she was going for a job today she would not be able to pass this test. This is what she told my worktec counselor. My point is it is not just your autistic spectrum disorder jonathan. What if what I am saying true?

Like svrcrow asked and I will paraphrase "when is enough enough?" When do the American People quit submitting to all of these arbitrary demands of these employers and start saying no? When do we as Americans get rid of all of this positivity nonsense and just do the damn job? Work is a necessary evil and I for one hate to do work but I know in the end it has to be done. I will bitch, moan and complain but I will roll up my sleeves and do the job. Why is it inappropriate to vent about it anymore?

Like svrcrow, I guess, I am a Ronin. I do not suffer well with contradictions, inconsistencies and double-speak. Neither should you Jonathan. You're better than that.