Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can accommodations in the workplace help autistics?

Nearly four years ago, I wrote a post discussing the problems of disclosure in the workplace for those of us on the spectrum.  One reader responded in the comments section that in his country, Canada, employers are required to make accommodations for person's with disabilities if it does not cause undue hardship to the employer.  The Americans with Disabilities Act here in the United States provides similar legislation.

Since the reason for disclosure is inevitably accommodations that could enable a person with autism or any other disability do their job, I thought I'd elaborate more on what I'd written way back and discuss whether or not accommodations would be helpful and other issues along those lines.   

As regular readers of this blog know, I've been fired from multiple jobs in my life and have not worked in more than five and a half years.  Some persons I know have suggested that accommodations are the answer to my problem and that under the ADA, employers are obligated to accommodate my disability.  How helpful are accommodations for autistics?  Is it feasible to apply the ADA to their cases? Has legal recourse among autistics been successful?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees that enable them to do their job without economic hardship to the employer.  Businesses with less than 15 employees are exempt.

I'm curious exactly what are specific examples of accommodations that were actually granted and/or were upheld in courts of law if a disabilities group litigated against an employer or reported them to the EEOC, the body that enforces the ADA.  A Google search turned up a variety of examples.  Adding ramps for wheelchair bound employees, allowing the blind to use braille or speech generating readers, allowing deaf people to use sign language interpreters.  A disabled secretary with severe asthma or problems with legs who could not climb stairs.  They would give the duty requiring her to climb stairs in a two story office building to the able bodied person and have her do another duty such as filing.  Are ASD's disabilities that could be accommodated or is this an apples versus hurricanes comparison?

Some autistics may be overly sensitive to light or loud noises (I don't fall in this category).  These are easily modifiable factors, the person could be moved into another office where there is less sound or the lights dimmed.

However, autistics have social problems, e.g. inability to get along with coworkers, loud voices, poor social skills.  In some cases (though not all) it might even be as drastic as sexually accosting a coworker.  Ari Ne'eman, an individual in his early 20s who has never worked a day in his life, has stated that eliminating social pleasantry as a criteria for hiring or allowing persons to keep their jobs should be a criteria.  This is something that would cause an undue hardship to the employer and other employees.  Certainly this is not something they are required to do under the ADA.

What about making excessive errors or poor hygiene (reasons I've been fired).  This is something that cannot be overlooked and would cause undue economic hardships for the employer.  Could reasonable accommodations be made.  One soloution is to let the autistic person who makes excessive errors go more slowly or review the work.  But this would cost the employer money and cause an undue hardship.  Other aspects of autism such as lack of executive functioning, inability to follow directions may also impair the autistic.  It is unlikely there are any reasonable accommodations for these that would not be an undue burden on the employer. 

Are employers required to hire the disabled person who may have the minimal qualifications over a more qualified non-disabled applicant?  The answer is legally no.  If a job requires someone to type 50 words per minute and the disabled person types 50 words per minute, but they find a non-disabled person who types 75, they can certainly legally hire the nondisabled person if they desire.  In the same vein, employers are not required to accommodate a person on the spectrum, who makes excessive errors, does not do the job fast enough or has social problems that could cause an undue burden on the employer or fellow employees.  If the job involved them being in public view of people, could the self-stimulatory behaviors be bad for business if it freaked the shoppers out if a grocery bagger for example were to engage in this behavior.  This would likely persuade at least some shoppers to go to another supermarket.  Would they be required to accommodate this person?  I'm not sure of the answer to that.  One example I came across is if someone had a disfigured face that could give fellow employees a customer a bad reaction the law does not allow them to discriminate on that basis.  However, would the ASD employee be able to take any recourse with the EEOC or another agency if they were fired for that reason?  I'll try to answer that in the paragraph below.

How feasible is enforcement?  How could the autistic person prove they were discriminated against?  What would stop employers from lying or claiming the person they did not like caused them undue economic hardship even if they hadn't.  Employers would break the law and even in a court case, it would be difficult to prove that they had done so.  In the above noted example, the employer could come up with some excuse if it were illegal for them not to accommodate someone's public self-stimulation.  They would just falsify a productivity study (something that happened to me at one job I was fired from) or find some other excuse to get rid of them.  I realize there may be exceptions to this, but they are likely few and far between.

Have autistics who have been refused accommodations they allege are reasonable been successful in court.  In one instance I was able to locate, the answer is no.  This case is interesting in that the individual involved was a physician diagnosed with Asperger's.  This person was denied accommodations he asked the hospital to give him when he was unable to interact with patients properly or relay instructions or interact on the phone with other medical personnel.  In spite of obtaining a diagnosis of Asperger's,  the doctor was discharged from his hospital residency.  He contended that he could do his job if the staff were aware of his disability and treated him with understanding.  The hospital instead offered him a pathology residency, a specialty where he'd have no patient interaction.  Though this would have been a viable option for him, he declined.  The individual lost at all levels of appeal, including the federal court of appeals (the sixth circuit court) which is just one rung below the supreme court.  The supreme court declined to hear his case.

In another instance an individual with Asperger's was denied a laboratory tech job after disclosing his diagnosis to his about-to-be employer.  With the help of an EEOC attorney, he secured a settlement of $60,000.  I wonder what was accomplished by this.  How far is $60,000 going to take him as far as supporting him over his lifetime.  Will the fact he has a disability and sued a perspective employer motivate others to hire him?  Will he be able to perform his job with another company?  Will anyone else hire him, particularly in a troubled economy?  Though, ASAN and others who believe accommodations are an answer will claim this a victory, these are interesting points to ponder.  These were also extremely high functioning individuals with Asperger's and not autism per se.  How would others unable to graduate from medical school or become lab techs fare?

I'm still trying to locate any instance where an accommodation was successfully used for an autistic person or litigation resulted in them securing employment.  I'll possibly be updating this post if I find something new.  

Are accommodations a viable solution for the employment problems of persons on the spectrum?  I believe the answer is no. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mitsubishi corporation funds neurodiversity activism

I just read an interesting post on the left brain/right brain blog about the Mitsubishi corporation funding an ASAN program for autistic college students.  The sole purpose of this program appears to be training people to engage in neurodiversity activism.

Now a large corporation is also advocating the idea that I (and others) should live our lives as cripples under the guise of the strawman that these people are promoting some sort of human or civil rights for autistic people.

It's distressing to me that Mitsubishi could have such a cavalier attitude toward autistic persons.  They are not funding a program for medical research to live better lives, to be better educated, to help lift those on SSI or without it out of poverty.  They are not funding group homes for autistics or any constructive program.  Only the hate mongering of ASAN aficionados who want to claim all research into autism is for the purpose of prenatal abortions, who want to insult parents who want to help their kids and those of us with autism who wish a cure could be found.

The canary party, a group promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism,has written some talking points protesting this.They allege that self-diagnosis is okay for eligibility in this program.  I must admit, I don't have any documentation for this, nor does the canary party memorandum provide any links documenting this  However, if true, I don't see how this is helping autistic people if someone not diagnosed by a medical professional or psychologist can take place in this program, which apparently has only the goal of promoting a political agenda and not really giving help to anyone.

Mitsubishi is claiming the program will help with employment activities among autistic college students, but as the canary party correctly points out, no mention of employment is spoken about in the guidelines, only training people in neurodiversity activism.

Mitsubishi also, according to the canary party, mentions helping people with disabilities.  After Ari Ne'eman claimed that he never said that autism was not a disability, Autism's gadfly broke the story about Ari's Ne'eman's essay, Difference Is Not Disease, where he put the words "disabled" in quotes and stated that difference is not disability.  After this essay was linked to on autism's gadfly, ASAN engaged in a watergate type coverup, first editing their essay to state difference is only disability when not accommodated for and then deleting the essay from the site altogether.  Also, Gadfly has provided documentation of Ari Ne'eman stating that Asperger's syndrome (which he has) is hardly something anyone would call a disability.

The Canary party does make one statement in their post that is not 100% accurate:

“While the Canary Party fully supports the acceptance of all people with diverse neurological conditions….it cautions that neurodiversity as promoted by ASAN is an ideology that runs counter to the primary goals of every major autism organization in the country.”

They either don't know or are forgetting that autism speaks has funded the research of neurodiversity rogue Laurent Mottron.  The federal government has funded Morton Gernsbacher's research.  The autism society of america endorsed Ari Ne'eman's nomination for the NCD.  Alex Plank, who has stated that autism equals good, was a keynote speaker at last year's autism society of america conference.  Autism speaks has also funded Alex Plank's Autism Talk TV.   

I have to wonder why the canary party has contacted Mitsubishi concerning their funding of an ASAN project, but has not protested projects that autism speaks and the autism society of america has either funded or endorsed that run counter to the philosophy that autism is a horrible disability and health problem that needs a cure.

If anyone who happens to read this who has not already read Matt Carey's endorsement of this program or the canary party's post about this, the addresses of the people you can contact to protest these activities are mentioned in the above-linked sites.  I doubt I'll bother writing to them as this is already a done deal and it would not accomplish anything.

I just wish I knew why all these people are opposed to me and others being able to live a decent life free of disability, including autism speaks and ASA who gives money to people who are at the opposite end of their stated beliefs.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freezer Failure: Could foul play be involved?

A few days ago, a rather distressing news story, at least to me, came out stating that a freezer containing about 50 postmortem autistic brains had malfunctioned, rendering them useless  for most research studies.  One scientist stated that this could set research back ten years.  However, one-half of 34 of the 50 brains had been preserved in formalin, so they could still be viable to use in some studies.  I'm not sure, but I remember hearing there are various advantages to freezing brains to preserve them rather than preserving them in formalin, such as certain enzymes and cell parts being intact.  Any neuroscientist who may happen to read this can correct me or shed further light on the subject.

As regular readers of the gadfly blog know, I long for a cure for autism and the end of the suffering it causes so many.  I feel that post-mortem autopsies may be our "ace in the hole" as there are probably no good animal models for autism and fMRI scanners probably can only yield limited information in living brains.  Because autistic people, often live out their lives and most persons are diagnosed young, there are only limited amounts of brain tissue available and the recent events may make this problem worse.  

One line of the article quoting lab director Francine Benes was particularly compelling:

Benes said the situation is so unusual - the perfect storm of alarm and thermostat failure and the concentration of samples - that she cannot rule out foul play. She said she has not spoken to law enforcement officials, pending the completion of the internal investigation. 

One wonders who would have motive for tampering with autistic postmortem brains.  Though, I'm not accusing anyone without proof or stating there are any certainties, I can't help thinking of that deranged cult of hatemongers, the neurodiversity movement.  These people are opposed to finding a cure for autism and are opposed to science funding this endeavor.

Normally these brains are distributed between twenty-four freezers.  A month before the malfunction, the brains were all moved into one freezer to make distribution easier.  There is an alarm system that is supposed to go off if the temperature falls below around minus 81 degrees Celsius.  The alarm system failed to go off.  Also, there's an external thermostat that gives the temperature and it read minus 79 degrees Celsius.  The freezers cannot be opened regularly as that might tamper with the expensive equipment used to house the brains.  One day a technician opened the freezer to obtain a sample and the normally cold air didn't whoosh out.  They found that in spite of the external thermometer reading, the temperature was actually about 7 degrees Celsius or about the same as a refrigerator.

I wonder what the probability is that right at the time the brains were moved, the alarm system would not happen to work and the thermometer would malfunction.  There was  a security camera and checkpoints to protect the brain samples.  However, this does not rule out an inside job.

Interestingly enough, this collection of brain tissue was owned by Autism Speaks, the organization that is consistently reviled and scorned by angry members of the ND movement.  Some years ago, I donated my brain to the autism speaks tissue program.  I've written about this elsewhere. This was before AS engaged in a variety of activities that I don't approve of, but more about that below.

Though, as mentioned above, in spite of the fact the neurodiversity movement has expressed contempt for autism speaks, they seem to be odd bedfellows.  At times, their executive staff has attended meetings of GRASP, the organization founded by Michael John Carley.  Without consulting me, Carley stated in his book that no autistics want to be cured of their autism.  They have funded Alex Plank's Autism Talk TV endeavor, though Plank stated that autism speaks' endgame was to develop a plan to find a way to abort autistic fetuses and engage in eugenics.  They also awarded a half million dollar grant to neurodiversity rogue scientist, Laurent Mottron.

Benes has stated that the lab is conducting an internal investigation before going to law enforcement authorities.  I look forward to reading any new developments if any.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

an article those who scorn pro-cure autistics should read

Neurodiversity activisit Alex Plank has stated that most autistics don't want to be cured.  This is in spite of the fact he's not above accepting charity from Autism Speaks, the organization who has stated that their ultimate goal is a cure for autism.

There are apparently at least some other members of the neurodiversity movement who feel this way also.
One immature teenage girl said that I'm like who Jew who helped the nazis during the holocaust.  Two of the most hard core hatemongers in the ND movement, whom I'll decline to name in this post, have stated that my desire for a cure for autism and even my disability comes from a domineering mother who was a witch and a shrew who taught me to hate myself.  These individuals have effectively tried to bring back the Bettelheim era which I lived through as a small child.  Retired neurodiversity blogger, the autistic bitch from hell has stated that all of the multiple persons with autism who receive disability benefits or applied for disability benefits are uncle toms who do so because we don't want to take responsibility for our lives and want to grovel before the feet of bureaucrats who'll pat us on our little incompetent heads.  She states we ought to be lined up against the wall and shot and/or strangled to death and turned into cat food.  ABFH is rumored to be Meg Evans, one of the executives in the autistic self-advocacy network who now have a seat on the IACC and the National Council on Disabilities, even though in the past they've stated they don't believe autism and Asperger's are disabilities.

Here's an article I believe the above-named individuals and others who feel as they do should read.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Aiden Bower drowns: ND movement proven wrong again

Here is yet another story of a defenseless autistic child drowning.  Although this appears to be commonplace, the neurodiversity movement insists that no one is ever killed from autism so there is no comparison to cancer and similar diseases.  They consistently play the murder card, claiming that those of us who don't like autism and wish a cure were available are responsible for the murder of autistic children whenever a deranged parent kills their autistic offspring.  However, it's only the rarest of occasions they mourn for the numerous autistic children who have died in accidental drownings or been run over by cars or trains.  Ari Ne'eman and ASAN have lobbied against restraints or wandering codes because it's a violation of autistic persons' human rights and civil rights.  Those of us who want a cure, and are fed up with the hatemongering and bullying of the NDs, according to them, are against human rights for autistics.  What about Aiden Bower's right to have been alive and grown up into adulthood?