Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ari Ne'eman testifies before the EEOC

I see the never employed 21-year-old Ari Ne'eman is at it again. Ari Ne'eman seems to once again offer his expertise on the subject of employment, something he knows of not one iota, never having been employed in his life. I've previously written about Ne'eman's trying to make himself out to be an expert in this subject of which he does not know from shoe polish. The media exposure happy Ne'eman gave an interview to a New Jersey newspaper in which he offered his own input on the workplace. Not as anything more than an ivory tower observer, let alone someone (myself) who has had many years of experience in the workplace experiencing these problems first hand that happens to those on the spectrum. Now, Mr. Ne'eman is offering his $.02 worth (and even this price tag is being exceedingly generous to Ne'eman) by giving testimony before the EEOC.

Ne'eman starts off by stating that all autism spectrum disorders should be included under the EEOC's rubric. This is not surprising in that Ne'eman having had speech at age 2-3 and knowing the names of various dinosaurs, would have never had an autism diagnosis based on criteria which was not extant until about 1994. He would still have to say he had Attention deficit disorder and be a crusader for the rights of this group instead.

He also talks about a clause in the law that is a 'regarded from' aspect of the disability and states that things like a data entry person being dismissed from their job for not looking the person in the eye be something that is inclusive among autistics. What Ne'eman in his youthful naivete' fails to grasp is that an employer is not going to outright admit to terminating a person's employment because they did not look the employer in the eye. They will come up with an excuse that no matter how bogus will basically be impossible to prove in a court of law or the EEOC or anywhere else where a terminated autistic employee will desire to redress a grievance against a discriminating employer. I know this for a fact because I was fired from a data entry job where a productivity study was falsified against me. Naturally this individual would not come right out and say that he was firing me for being a peculiar person. It would have been certainly infeasible if not impossible for me to disprove this contention and claim that I was being discriminated against.

Secondly Ne'eman claims that 30% of companies are offering these personality tests which are irrelevant to performance of a job in question and that due to a person with autism giving undesirable answers they are screened out from a job from which they are qualified. Interestingly, I have had hundreds of job interviews (as opposed to Ari's likely zero) and I can't recall one instance in which I was administered one of these so-called personality tests. I suppose it is possible things could have changed drastically from where 0 to 30% of companies would give these tests in the few years that I have been out of the job market but that seems unlikely to me. What Ne'eman won't acknowledge is the fact that though discrimination exists and is indeed a factor in autistic employment, impairment is a much more poignant issue. The fact that a person with autism actually has a disability that incapacitates their ability to learn and do a job certainly does not jibe with Ne'eman's "being anti-cure isn't being anti-progress" mantra. However, Ne'eman wishes to deny me and others the cure that would enable us to be employable. If I had been an extremely good medical transcriptionist, plumber, computer programmer, etc, I would have had no problem keeping a job. It is true I would have faced some discrimination but I would not have been forced out of the workplace at a relatively young age. This is likely true for most if not all persons on the autistic spectrum.

I personally have little faith in the ADA or the EEOC in being able to do anything to help autistics secure employment. But Ne'eman's big government intervention policies help him conveniently avoid the issues of an autistic person actually not being able to work aside from discrimination. I do not believe that these federal laws that supposedly protect disabled individuals in the workplace are enforceable. This goes along with my nearly 28 years of experience of having actually worked with this handicap, being fired from multiple jobs and having applied for many many more.

Ari Ne'eman I know you read this blog and I would appreciate it if you and ASAN would do us all a favor and not try to talk about work related issues until you have actually gone out into the world and worked as an employee yourself.


Jake Crosby said...

I fully echo your views Jonathan.

Ari, if you are reading this, before you mention the word "employment" again, do this first:

Go to a place that delivers chicken wings, and is seriously understaffed. Ask for a job space.

Sign up for the job. Go in the next day at 10 in the morning and work until midnight, after closing time. Keep it up for six days a week, including Father's Day. Mop the floor, clean the toilet, fry the chicken, answer the phone, deliver the wings, take out the garbage, and make almost no money.

During that whole time, put up with a shit-for-brains boss who constantly complains about how slow/lazy/clumsy/lacking in self-confidence you allegedly are.

Meanwhile, work alongside backstabbing co-workers who pick pocket your tip money when you're not careful. And endure all this misery for no less than two weeks straight. Trust me, it's a lot longer than it sounds.

Then you can talk about tolerating undesirable personalities in the workplace.


Your fellow autistic,

Who has been through at least twice as much as you have,

Jake Crosby

farmwifetwo said...

What Ari and others think is that they are "owed" work. They aren't. If I can't afford to pay for their loss in productivity, the extra to make certain they are doing the job correctly, the chance that I can easily get them killed here on the farm... I can't hire them. Period. Yes, we will try to hire our own with Autistic disorder but if in the end he can't do the job, we won't take the risk.

They can't just do any job, and in today's economy, most employers haven't got the $$$$ to babysit them either.

That's simply reality.

SM69 said...

If I may share my limited experience of "employing" 3 ASD (high functioning) volunteers which I qualify as being very successful, I would say the keys to that success are: 1 to have knowledge of autism from the employer's perspective, 2- To give to these 3 people a fair amount of introduction support into their new work position, with shadowing, mediating etc from supporting agency, 3- To select the type of the work to be very compatible with the ASD mind, clear tasks, no extra socialization involved, clear targets, no change of plan without prior preparation, 4- Attitude of co-workers is positive, supportive, open-minded and inclusive.

If these were not in place, we would risk to have meltdowns in work place, tensions between employees, mocking and gossiping, or the employer firing the employee due to insufficient patience.

Those who are functioning very well, to the point that their autism is more like a personality traits (possibly as Ari sees Autism to be, the very tip of the iceberg), would probably do better on a whole, without assistance, even if things are hard for them and can be risky at times.

As for those at the lower end of the spectrum, I would think they would required constant shadowing to function in a work place, but of course it depends on the tasks requested and how supportive the team is. The "employment" would be more like a right to take part to the community. Of course under economical constraint, without a highly supportive government, this is pure utopia.

I agree with you Jonathan, an employer would never admit to any type of discrimination (the classics are sexual harassment, racism, homosexuality, whistle blowers), he/she has the means to justify dismissal in many other ways, performance etc., therefore what Ari suggests, if I understand it well, is unlikely to make any difference at the end of the day.

But the option is NOT to ask for a cure, because there is no cure at the moment, certainly not for adults anyway, the answer is to provide the sort of keys factors I have listed above to the work place.

SM69 said...

Well, I posted last night a link to an online autism web conference for Jonathan to share with others, but somehow, it was not posted. Even though it seems like a very good way to me to express your concerns and need to people who are working as researcher in that field.

I have logged into it tonight I found one relevant topic, which I hope will be shared with this group.

I will attempt to discuss this with the author.

In the same way that I am unclear how Ari will help autism, I am very unclear how attacking what he does has any value either.

Shouldn't we instead focus on discussing possible models to remedy the problem of employment of ASD people or relevant issues with possible solutions?

There are many speakers you might want to converse with. If you want a link to conference, drop me an e-mail (profile).


Five years of experience creating jobs for people with ASD


WHEN MY son was diagnosed with autism nine years ago at the age of three, the future opportunities for taking an active part in society suddenly seemed very limited for the boy. However, I decided to establish a company which aimed at giving people with ASD the understanding, support and training needed to let them use their special skills to provide high-quality services for the business sector at market terms. Specialisterne (Danish for The Specialists) was established on January 1 2004. Without any funding and knowledge of entrepreneurship, Specialisterne found its place in the Danish marketplace.

jonathan said...

Lorene: I am not attacking Ari Ne'eman. I am only refuting what a 21-year-old kid with no life experience has to say about the problems of disabled people in the job market, given the benefit of my nearly 28 years of experience (more years than Ne'eman has been alive) in this matter as opposed to Ne'eman's zero years. As I have said before, I do not believe 21-year-olds with no work experience should be offering inputs on employability of any kind. Also as someone who has paid thousands of dollars in taxes which I am now trying to get back in the form of disability, I believe it is my duty to call on someone who is wasting taxpayer money here in the U.S.A. by testifying before government agenices when they have no qualifications to do so. I believe this refutation of Ne'eman's (and ASAN's) contention that autism is not a disorder but merely a difference is valuable, as it trivializes the problem and provides people with quick fix simplistic solutions that do not work and will prevent disabled people from getting the help they really need assuming it exists.

I would much prefer to offer solutions to the problem of lack of employability among autistic people then to criticize others. However, as you have repeatedly told me, a cure for autism is not likely in the foreseeable future, so I don't believe there are any easy or quick fix solutions and it would be irresponsible of me to offer any, but you don't know how much I wish I had some suggestions to give. I do not believe that denying there is a problem as neurodiversity proponents constantly do or providing quick fixes is the answer or helpful.
I would much prefer giving solutions to the unemployment

Jacoby said...

Hi Jonathan,
I have had a terrible time getting and keeping work. Although I'm considered high-functioning, my anxiety, perfectionism, rigidity, sensory issues, and overall weirdness have made it next to impossible for me. To make matters worse, people are just so mean! I was, however able to keep a great job as a hand on a kindly old couple's ranch. I was there for 8 years. It just goes to show that in the right setting, someone like me can succeed.

I understand and even share your sentiments about a guy who's supposedly never really had a job talking about employment. Personal feelings aside, though, I wonder whether even an Ari Ne'eman can help to at least raise some awareness in the neurotypical population about autistic people like us. Over time, this kind of input might result in a less hostile work environment for folks with all kinds of disabilities. Granted, a simple shift in others' attitudes wouldn't be sufficient for me to hold a steady job. I would need additional supports and accomodations in order to work in most places, but not being picked on constantly would sure be nice. I'll take all the help I can get at this point.