On the
Spectrum, in the Workplace (typewritten image)

No-Eye-Contact "Networking"

Employment in the NT World

This is part of On the Spectrum, in the Workplace, which addresses issues of people on the Autism spectrum related to employment. This page addresses possible "job finding" resources.
Unfortunately, those of us who have best succeeded have had substantial educational support from our families. The process and our nature is such that we have the intellectual ability to excel in the manner of Bill Gates, Temple Grandin, Albert Einstein, but in almost all cases, this was coincidental with substantial family support in the education process. While it is possible to develop superior skills without education, it is difficult for autistics to attain credibility without the credentials.

Aberrant Definitions of "Networking"

"Networking" as described by NTs is a series of linked contacts that make sense to NTs. This seems to be adapted to NTs involved in marketing, which suggest that the concept is more hyperbole than beneficial work contacts. But NTs need something to perseverate about when not studying the personal lives of movie stars.

Forget about that type of networking. Most descriptions of networking used by networking organisations will be irrelevant to you.

Instead, networking involves passing along information in one way or another. Your approach should fit you. Generally, it means just talking to people you know or who you wish to talk with.

Curiously, if you engage in these conversations in your own style, the networking enthusiasts will describe it as networking. So "networking" can be considered any discussions about work opportunities that do not center around the question, "Will you hire me?"

Other sources of Employment Help

These can be general social service agencies such as those associated with a religious or cultural group. These organisations may be able to help you "get out of a rut" in job hunting and performance. Approach them if you think you could use help.

While religious groups have extensive social service functions, there are groups not affiliated with religions that offer similar services, e.g., cultural or gender based groups.

Identifying Social Service Agencies

The appropriate social service group depends to a significant extent on your own belief system and cultural circumstances. Fortunately, the kind of help most of these groups offer is well-suited to someone who has the basic skills to work, but needs some help in getting situated with a job.

What to Expect

The extent of help available often is linked to the general philosophy of the group supporting the agency. For example, the Jewish Federation would have more social support services than a group whose focus is limited to specific social or religious functions. Regardless, even if the group is limited in the scope of available help, it doesn't hurt to ask.

In addition to job-related assistance, some of these agencies are also good resources for life function support services. For example, Catholic Church orders are often able to provide housing in convents. Most agencies have limited resources in this respect, but may be able to help in either getting a start or in locating outside resources such as housing.

In general the people at the social service agency won't be familiar with details of autism spectrum conditions. You will be much more familiar with this and will be able to explain specific issues.

They often won't be familiar with details of your work. They will be able to help out with issues related to obtaining work, and avoiding some social problems at work. But you will have to identify what you need, at least in a general sense.

YMMV. Each individual and each local agency is very different. Some people will be very helpful, although there are almost certainly those who can't or perhaps won't help. In any case, there is little to lose by asking. Many of these people are very dedicated and good at what they do.

On the subject of knowing what to ask for, try to avoid focusing on "wrongs" caused by others. The social service agency cannot right the past wrongs. Instead, look at what problems you have, or had in the past, in hopes that you can address these.

In general, expect at least some help. Some of these people can be very useful in coaching people who need help.

Social Workers

As part of "networking", social service agencies and social workers are useful; however unless you intend to get a specialized disability job, KEEP THEM AWAY from direct contact with a potential employer. Use the social service contact as an advisor, as a coach, or whatever "fits", but not as a liaison.

The people who need these people to obtain special disability jobs generally find that they interfere with their jobs. Social workers are almost guaranteed to [mess]-up your job if you let them.

That said, social service agencies can be very useful.

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First posted 3 Feb 06. Last revised 13 Mar 10.

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