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Do Your Recruiting Methods Disqualify Great Job Candidates?

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In her article, “The Tricky Path to Employment Is Trickier When You’re Autistic”, Sarah Carr addresses a topic that is obviously close to Mind Shift’s heart, the challenges to employment faced by adults on the autism spectrum.

The author talks about a 39 years-old gentleman named Leigh.  Leigh has a master’s degree in Library Science, he has years of experience with a Boston library, and a 145 IQ.  In spite of this, Leigh has spent the past eight years working a minimum wage job in a position for which he is overqualified.

The article explores the challenges that present themselves through our traditional (and some would say antiquated) means of recruiting and hiring.  Resume writing, interpreting job descriptions, and the job interview each complicate the application process in such a way that often highly qualified individuals disqualify themselves.

Carr discusses the societal challenges that come with milder forms of autism.  As Leigh states, “I’m so high-functioning that I don’t really register as disabled, but I’m not high-functioning enough that I can easily utilize anything social.”  This is a reality we often see at Mind Shift.  People who are high functioning don’t always qualify for the support or assistance they need.  These are the individuals that fall through the cracks.  

But they are also individuals that have an abundance of skill, talent, and intelligence.  They are often the most qualified fit for high-demand jobs. And by simply taking into consideration the challenges that come with high-functioning autism, they can bring a substantial amount of value to the workplace.

Carr goes on to discuss how changes to our dated recruiting and hiring methodology, along with greater understanding of autism spectrum disorder, not only brings valuable skill and intelligence to the workplace, it allows high functioning adults on the spectrum the independence and integrity they want and deserve.

You can read Carr’s article on the slate.com website by following the link below:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2017/09/how_autism_complicates_the_path_to_employment.html

And to learn more about autism spectrum disorder, and how those on the spectrum are using their talents to benefit business, contact Mind Shift at info@mindshift.works.

Thank You, Temple Grandin

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“I am different, not less.”  -  Temple Grandin

This week we continue our focus on World Autism Awareness Month by talking about a hero within the autism community and beyond.  We are talking about Temple Grandin.  

Mary Temple Grandin was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1947.  She was diagnosed with ASD at an early age and barely spoke before the age of four.  In spite of challenges growing up, she inevitably graduated with a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989.

Here are some more interesting facts about this amazing woman:

  • Temple Grandin invented the “hug machine” (also called the “squeeze box” and “hug box”) at the age of 18.  It was a device used to calm hypersensitive people.  
  • Temple works closely with the livestock industry, consulting on topics such as animal behavior and ethical treatment.  
  • In 2010, Temple Grandin was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in the category of “Hero.”  
  • The Center-Track restraint system she invented is currently used to handle almost half of all the cattle in North America.  It helps reduce stress and injuries.
  • Temple has authored or co-authored a dozen books, and over 60 peer reviewed scientific papers.
  • She won the 2011 Double Helix medal for positively impacting human health by raising awareness.  In 2009, Temple was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • She received a Meritorious Achievement Award from the World Organization for Animal Health in 2015, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017.
  • Temple is a big Science Fiction fan, especially Star Trek.

Temple shows us that autism should not be considered a disability.  It’s a different ability, a way of thinking that has value.  It’s this different ability that allows those with ASD an opportunity to contribute something unique, to see something from a new angle, and to shake up stagnant and antiquated ideas with inventiveness and innovation.  

Temple once said “If I could snap my fingers and be nonautistic, I would not.  Autism is part of what I am.”   The world is more knowing and caring and less painful and scary because of what you are.  Thank you Temple Grandin.  We hope you have a great day.

                                                                             

Happy World Autism Awareness Day

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“The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes.”  - Dr. Temple Grandin

 

April is World Autism Awareness Day.  It was started by the United Nations to inspire member states to raise awareness about people with autism.

Every year’s World Autism Awareness Day has focused on a particular theme or topic.  This year the theme is “Empowering Women and Girls with Autism.”

Males are up to four times more likely than females to be diagnosed with the condition.  This has led to a lack of female participation and inclusion in autism studies and research.  Which, because of the very different social experiences between the sexes during adolescence, creates a remarkable gap in our understanding of the spectrum, and how it affects all people.

For example, a 2012 survey conducted by The National Autistic Society found only 20% of girls with autism who responded to the survey were diagnosed by the age of 11.  While 50% of boys with autism were diagnosed with ASD at the same age. 

The same survey suggested that 42% of females may have been misdiagnosed.  The number is 30% when it comes to males.

Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder are our neighbors, our friends, or family.  ASD does not play favorites.  What society needs to do is not classify individuals on the spectrum as disabled.  We need to recognize the value that comes with seeing the world differently.  We need to embrace the strengths of those on the spectrum.  We need to recognize the valuable contributions people with ASD make every day.  And we need to be thankful for that contribution.

Autism is not a disability.  It is a different ability.  Happy World Autism Awareness Day.  

“Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.”   -  Dr. Colin Zimbleman, Ph.D.

Mind Shift Welcomes Drew Erickson

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Mind Shift is growing!  We are extremely happy to welcome Andrew Erickson to the Mind Shift family. 

Originally from Fargo, Drew is married with three children.  Sophi is nine, Jude is seven, and Nora is two.

Jude, diagnosed as high functioning on the spectrum, drives Drew’s passion for wanting to improve life for individuals with ASD.  Drew wants to leave a legacy of pulling potential out of people.

Currently, Drew coaches varsity football at Park Christian School in Moorhead, and is a big Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Fan.  He also volunteers with the Prairie Heights Community Church Youth Group.

Drew has been working with people on the spectrum for over eight years, starting as an early childhood teacher, and then joining the team at Prairie St. Johns, who he calls “the best of the best.”  Drew spent six years working with youth on the spectrum at Prairie, mostly with children in crisis.  Drew has also organized summer camps for children with ASD.

Drew will be overseeing our in-house project team and will be managing the Specialists that are currently placed in businesses around our community. 

We’re very happy to have Drew on our team and look forward to working with him to find great careers for adults on the autism spectrum.

Yesterday I received a text from a Specialist, “Is this Drew guy legit?”

The answer is yes.  Yes, he is.

To learn how Drew can help your business find amazing employees, contact Mind Shift today. 

Myths about Autism are Bad for Business

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As an organization that works diligently to find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum, Mind Shift often has to dispel myths and misconceptions about the diagnosis.  This is an important part of our mission.  If we are going to change the world of work, we need to address those incorrect ideas that can get in the way of an organization hiring individuals on the spectrum. 

Below are 7 more myths regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder:

1.      Individuals with autism don’t feel emotion.  Actually, individuals with autism just express their emotions in different ways.

2.     Individuals with autism don’t understand other people’s emotions.  The truth is that people with autism often have difficulty interpreting facial cues, tone of voice, and body language, which makes understanding how somebody is feeling in the moment especially difficult.

3.     People with autism are antisocial and don’t want friends.  Because of the difficulty interpreting emotional cues, and higher than average anxiety, people on the spectrum may avoid social situations and come across as aloof.  The truth is people on the spectrum want to have meaningful and deep interpersonal connections just like anybody else. 

4.     Autism is caused by bad parenting.  This is absolutely untrue.  In the 50’s, autism was said to be caused by mothers who were cold and unemotional.  This has been proven FALSE!

5.     Autism is a mental illness.  This is not true.  Autism is a neurological condition.  People on the spectrum process information differently, but it is not an “illness.”

6.     Autism is curable.  Actually, there is no known cause for autism, and there is no known “cure.”  That being said, should we be trying to “cure” it in the first place?  Autism offers a unique way of seeing the world.  And those with autism should be valued because of this perspective. 

7.     People with autism are all alike.  Absolutely not true!  There’s a saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.  No two people are alike, and that goes for people with autism too! 

It’s important that myths such as these are dispelled, especially since some of these inaccuracies might prevent great businesses from hiring individuals on the spectrum, even when those individuals might be the most qualified fit for roles that need to be filled. 

Mind Shift will continue to speak honestly about autism and autism employment.  And we will continue to advocate for adults with autism.  If you want to learn more about autism, and about leveraging the strengths of individuals on the spectrum, reach out to Mind Shift.  We work with some unique, talented, and amazing people who are ready to work with you.

Office Sign Company Continues to Do Good in Fargo

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A little over a month ago, Mind Shift started a partnership with Office Sign Company.  The business started making signs in 2008, and has been growing ever since.

Not only is Office Sign Company a supplier and manufacturer of high quality and unique office signs, they are also a business that invests in their community.  One of the organization’s core values is Service, and the OSC team can be seen living this value in their service to the Fargo-Moorhead community.

Here is a list of JUST A FEW of the organizations and events that Office Sign Company has sponsored, volunteered for, or donated to:

  • American Diabetes Association
  • Fargo South High School Volleyball
  • FM United Soccer
  • Longspur Prairie Fund
  • March of Dimes
  • Moorhead Crush Softball
  • Nature of the North
  • Operation Thank You
  • RDO Caters Taters for Charity
  • Red River Market
  • Rourke Art Museum
  • Silver Goat Media
  • Tech Tailgate
  • TEDxConcordia
  • Theatre B
  • Tri City Soccer Club
  • Trollwood School for Performing Arts
  • Unseen
  • Village Family Services

And this list doesn’t include the work OSC has done for The Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota, The United Way, Ronald McDonald House, TedX Fargo, The Arts Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, Prairie Public Radio, and The Salvation Army. 

We are so happy and proud to partner with Office Sign Company.  They are truly a force for good in our community.  We look forward to seeing them around town so we can say, “we work with them!”  Thanks for the opportunity, OSC.

Thank You. Thank You. Thank you.

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Last Thursday was Giving Hearts Day 2018.  Where were you on that day?  What will you say you did?

If you were one of the generous individuals who gave to Mind Shift, you can say many things.

You can say that you helped a non-profit meet its $25,000 match.

You can say that you made an impact on your community and your region.

You can say that you were one of the individuals that made Giving Hearts Day 2018 a record-breaking event.

And you can say you helped find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum. 

Thank you to everybody who generously gave to Mind Shift.  We are excited to continue our mission to help individuals with ASD find independence, integrity, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to their community.

Thank you to the Impact Foundation and the Giving Hearts Day team for making this wonderful day a reality.  Because of you this day is a tradition.  And because of this day we can continue to make our communities and region a better place.

Thank you to Veronica Michael who took the time to educate the Mind Shift team on how it all works.  You are kind, and patient.  And thanks to Amanda Sayre for the weekly emails, you reminded us that we’re not on our own. 

Thank you to Be More Colorful, Abovo, and Office Sign Company for organizing the Giving Hearts Day event downtown.  We were honored and humbled to be included with The Arts Partnership, CHARISM, FFA, The F5 Project, CCRI, and TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics.  Thanks for spending the day with us.  And thanks to Thunder Coffee for fueling the fun!

This is going to be a wonderful year.  Thanks again. 

"There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."  - Albert Einstein

Where were you on Giving Hearts Day 2018?

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Thursday is going to be a great day.  It’s National Kite Flying Day!  “Planet of the Apes” premiered on this day in 1968.  And it’s Giving Hearts Day! 

This is a big day for Mind Shift.  Giving Hearts Day helps us continue with our mission of finding great careers for adults on the autism spectrum. 

But this day of giving doesn’t only help Mind Shift.  There are hundreds of charities and non-profits that participate on this day.  These charities work to improve the lives of our neighbors and family, they improve our community.  So please mark your calendar, your generosity goes directly to helping these organizations and their missions.

This year, the first $25,000 donated to Mind Shift will be matched!  That means your money will go twice as far. 

We will be at Abovo in downtown Fargo on Giving Hearts Day, so come see us, join us for this day of fun.  Thanks to Be More Colorful and Office Sign Company for making the Giving Hearts Day Giving Stations happen. 

Go to www.givingheartsday.com to sign up for an email reminder.  And thank you.  When you give to Mind Shift, you give independence and opportunity to our friends and family on the autism spectrum.

It's Almost Giving Hearts Day!!

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Giving Hearts Day is right around the corner!    

It’s a special day because it allows Mind Shift to continue its mission to find careers for adults on the autism spectrum.  A career offers independence, it helps people feel valued, and gives an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.

Please get involved this year by donating, volunteering, and spreading the word!  When you support local charities, you support your community and your neighbors.

2017 was a record-breaking year for the people at the Impact Institute, and they hope for this year to be the same.

Did you know that during the 2017 Giving Hearts Day:

·      $10, 692, 653 was raised for local charities and non-profits

·      21,816 people donated

·      There were 50,920 individual donations made

·      The average gift was $141.07

·      The average donor gave to 2.3 non-profits

·      People from 46 different states donated to Giving Hearts Day 2017

·      $2,959 was raised PER MINUTE!

Please mark your calendar for this year’s Giving Hearts Day, It’s on February 8th.  The first $25,000 donated to Mind Shift on this day will be matched!  That means your generosity will go twice as far.

Thank you to Giving Hearts and Impact Institute teams for your hard work and commitment.  And thank you for allowing us to join the fun.

ComDel Innovation Recognizes the Value of Autism Employment

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Almost a month ago Mind Shift placed its first Specialist in Wahpeton.  This is the second community in North Dakota that we now serve.  This is a great honor and privilege, and hope it’s the first of many opportunities to serve the Wahpeton/Breckenridge area.

We began working with ComDel Innovation many months ago to help them find somebody to fill a Document Coordinator role.  The team at ComDel was insightful enough to recognize that a person on the autism spectrum would have the skills and talents necessary to excel at this role.  Specifically, it was the focus, accuracy, and attention to detail found in people on the spectrum that made a partnership with Mind Shift a good business decision.

The name ComDel comes from the company’s history of committing to and delivering results to the many customers that they work with.  ComDel Innovation, with their world-class team and high-tech facility, have the capability to move ideas from product design and development to manufacturing and fulfillment. 

Mind Shift is currently recruiting for another company in the Wahpeton/Breckenridge area.  If you are somebody with autism who is looking for a meaningful career, please email us at info@mindshift.works

Or if you are a business that is looking for intelligent, talented employees who will move your business forward, do the same.  Again, that email address is info@mindshift.works.

We work every day to help high functioning adults on the autism spectrum find meaningful careers with great companies.  By partnering with outstanding businesses like ComDel Innovation, we can make this mission a reality.

Thank you ComDel.  We look forward to working with you, and changing the world with you, for many years to come.

Innovation and Hiring

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Happy New Year everybody!  Can you believe it’s 2018?  This year, our resolution is to innovate!  We want to find new and better ways to do what we do every day. We can’t do things the same old ways and expect different results.

Peter Drucker said, “if you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”  When I read this quote, I thought of the article “The Way We Hire People is Totally Insane” on the website 42hire.com. 

In the article, it is mentioned that the hiring methods of today were created for the economy and employment environment of many decades ago.

Indicators such as GPA, Degrees/Certifications held, and Years of Experience say little regarding accomplishments or performance.

Further, Interviewing Ability, Cover Letters, and Resumes don’t actually reflect workplace performance. 

The article states that this is essentially reasoning by analogy.

We see these sorts of challenges at Mind Shift.  Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty with interviewing and resume writing because of the social challenges that come with the disability.  And we find indicators such as degrees and years of experience at an organization don’t always reflect the inherent ability of an individual, or how successful they will be in the workplace.

But if our hiring methods are antiquated, how do we move forward?  The article makes a few suggestions.  The best might be to spend “the time to identify what assumptions you are making about someone who possesses the required indicators, and making those assumptions more transparent and explicit.”  This act of reflection and communication could change the way we think about traditional ideas and methods, along with how we look at recruits and potential hires, which might lead to real innovation.

As William Pollard said, “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” 

Below is the link to the article:

https://42hire.com/the-way-we-hire-people-is-totally-insane-81d132235526

 

 

Merry Christmas to All, and Thank You.

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The holiday season is upon us.  2017 was quite a year!  We continue to change the lives of high functioning people on the autism spectrum because of those who believe in us, those who walk with us, and those who recognize the strengths of those on the spectrum. 

Thank you to our wonderful Specialists.  Your talents and skills are what give us confidence and strength to get out there every day and continue to work to change the world.  You’re trailblazers.  You’re mind shifters.

Thank you to all of our business partners.  Our goal of finding meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum would not be possible without you:

Accenture

Anne Carlsen Center

Anthem Healthcare

Appareo Systems

Aldevron

Bell Bank

Cargill

Caterpillar

ComDel Innovation

dogIDs

Eide Bailly

G.E. Healthcare

High Point Networks

Minnkota Enviroservices, Inc.

Target

Thank you to all of those organizations who will be partnering with Mind Shift next year. 2018 will be a year of independence and contribution for many people who might not get the opportunity without you.  We look forward to taking this journey with you.

And of course, thank you to our financial partners and donors. It’s your belief in us, and our mission, that inspires and drives us.  We will continue to change the world of work, but only because of your support.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everybody.  Be safe.  Stay warm.  And again, thank you.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” ~ Dr. Seuss

Neurodiversity Benefits the Entire Organization

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At Mind Shift, we regularly speak of the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce.  We believe that the talents of individuals on the autism spectrum are numerous. 

This topic is addressed in the article “The Brand Benefits of Neurodiversity” by Charlotte Rogers, in the May 31 edition of Marketing Week Magazine. 

The article begins by reinforcing the idea that neurodiversity should be seen as existing on a spectrum.  And that individuals on this spectrum come to work with a diverse set of skills and talents, and that there are no stereotypical behaviors that will be found in every person.

We find this to be true.  We have had the opportunity to find meaningful careers for over 30 diverse and unique individuals working in areas such as high-tech manufacturing, health care, human resources, IT, document imaging, and the sciences, to name a few. 

Rogers speaks about SAP, and their Autism at Work program.  She mentions that SAP recognizes the benefits of diversity, and because of this they have 120 people with ASD working with 110 different teams.

Rogers also talks about the importance of ongoing support for both employees with ASD and their teams.  She also speaks about the importance of looking critically at an organization’s recruiting, onboarding, and training programs.  The author talks about Willis Tower Watson, an insurance broker that works to include individuals on the autism spectrum in their organization, and to train employees to look beyond the social challenges that might hold certain individuals back.

The author wraps up her article with a discussion on the business benefits of neurodiversity employment.  She mentions that individuals on the spectrum often bring creativity, persistence, loyalty, focus, and unique thinking skills that can directly benefit an organization’s profitability and reputation.

Our experiences working with both individuals on the spectrum, and with great organizations looking to leverage the benefit of autism employment find what Rogers says to be true.  There is a real value attained through autism employment, and by training and supporting teams to prioritize inclusion, the entire organization benefits.

To learn more about autism employment, and how our organization can help you do so, contact Mind Shift.  We work hard to find meaningful careers for adults on the autism spectrum.

The address to Charlotte Rogers’ article in Marketing Week is below:

https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/05/31/brand-benefits-neurodiversity/

 

 

Social Media Changes Lives

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Mind Shift is blessed to have a large number of supporters and advocates.  One question we hear regularly from our supporters is “how can I help more than I currently do?”  One simple answer is “like us” on social media.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Share our blogs and posts.  Comment and give us a “thumbs up!”

Social media has become a very powerful tool for communicating ideas.  We use it to express opinions and to support causes.  And it has the power to change history.  Using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to educate and inform our friends and followers about Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the easiest ways to improve the lives of those with the diagnosis.

Did you know…

Almost 1.7 billion people have social media accounts.

Last year, Facebook had 1.6 billion users daily, and added 6 new profiles every second.

The average Twitter user has 707 followers.

The average CEO has 930 LinkedIn connections.

Internet users have an average of 7.6 social media accounts.

About 3.7 billion people own a cell phone.  Only 3.5 billion people own a toothbrush.

One in 68 people are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  And 80 to 85 percent of these people are unemployed and underemployed.  The more the public understands ASD, the easier it will be for these intelligent, talented individuals to gain the quality of life and independence we hope for everyone.  By following us on social media, and sharing our posts, you can help Mind Shift’s mission of finding great careers for adults on the spectrum.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.”   - Louisa May Alcott

Autism and the Startup

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It’s no secret that businesses like Microsoft, HP, SAP, and Ernst and Young have realized the incredible value and ability that individuals on the autism spectrum bring to businesses. It’s also well-known that these large organizations are actively recruiting individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). 

But what about startups and smaller businesses?  With over 33% of U.S. businesses employing less than 100 people, it’s the small business and startup owner that would most benefit from the talents and skills of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Below is a short list of reasons why CEOs of startups should employ individuals with ASD:

1.     Innovation – Startups are known for the new ways they look at old problems.  Innovation comes from thinking outside of traditional or standardized models.  Individuals on the spectrum can bring a fresh and unique perspective to traditional ways of thinking.

2.     Focus – We’ve all heard the stories of startup CEOs working 16 hour days as they make their dreams a reality.  With their ability to focus, individuals on the spectrum make great allies to those who can’t seem to find enough hours to do what needs to be done.

3.     Process Optimization – This follows innovation and focus, in that visionaries are often so invested in their methods or models, they fail to see inefficiencies or redundancies.  Those on the spectrum are often the best at recognizing the quickest route to a goal.

4.     Attention to detail – Mistakes in a startup are often more costly than mistakes occurring within a larger, more established organization.  Individuals with ASD often have an uncanny ability to see the details in complex data sets, which would help entrepreneurs avoid costly mistakes.

5.     Commitment and loyalty – There’s a saying, “people on the spectrum don’t dig many holes, they dig one hole deep.”  Turnover is not only time consuming, it’s also expensive. This commitment to a work family is extremely valuable to a visionary growing their business.

Starting a new business is important work, and having the right people in the right seats goes a long way in assuring success. By employing people on the autism spectrum, CEOs and Visionaries are employing people with the skills and talents to help drive their business forward.

To learn more about recruiting and employing individuals with ASD, contact Mind Shift.  We work hard every day to find meaningful careers for people on the autism spectrum, and are ready to help you find great people.

 

Rethinking Normal

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In “Rethinking Autism: From Social Awkwardness to Social Creativity”, Scott Barry Kaufman challenges the idea that individuals with autism are “failed versions of “normal.””  The author continues, explaining that teaching this concept of “normal” and how to conform to it is the basis of our current modes of treatment and education.  Further, he discusses how new strategies are rejecting this idea, and that we shouldn’t try to change somebody to fit our expectations.  We are all our own version of normal.

Normal does not inspire ingenuity or innovation.  And rejecting somebody because they don’t meet our expectations of normal can create stagnation, and might result in some very important missed opportunities.

Below is a list of individuals who were penalized in one way or another because they chose to follow a path of non-conformity. These individuals are now considered icons, and masters of their fields:

1.      Oprah Winfrey was fired from her evening news reporter job because she was too emotional.

2.     Marilyn Monroe was not considered the modeling type, and modeling agencies recommended she try secretarial work.

3.     In the 1840s, Ignaz Semmelweis was mocked for his ideas regarding sanitation and hygene, and for requiring his doctors and midwives to wash their hands before childbirth.

4.     Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie”, was rejected 30 times. 

5.     Monet was mocked by the artistic elite during his lifetime.

6.     The Kansas City Star fired Walt Disney because they felt he had “no good ideas.”

When we require people to fit our idea of normal, we limit their ability to innovate and be thought leaders.  But by throwing out the idea that normal is a standard that needs to be met, we inspire those around us to reach their potential, which benefits us all.

Introducing a Spectrum of Heroes

Mind Shift has promoted hiring people with autism because of the advantage they bring to the workplace.  We are quick to mention that our Specialists have greater focus and accuracy, lower turnover rates, greater attention to detail and deviation, a high work ethic and sense of integrity.  But if this is so, why do we not see greater employment opportunities for those with autism?

If this question was asked in our offices, you might hear that common misconceptions surrounding autism prevent employers from seeing the value of the individuals. 

This misunderstanding is disappointing at best, and damaging and debilitating at worst.  But there is hope.  It is becoming common knowledge that with autism come advantages that can benefit an organization.  And recently we have begun to see more and more heroes with autism in popular culture.  It’s about time.

Here are just a few examples of heroes who save the day while also living with the challenges that come with autism:

1.      Billy, the blue Power Ranger is on the autism spectrum.

2.     Symmetra, a popular playable character in the video game Overwatch, is on the autism spectrum.

3.     “The Good Doctor” is an ABC series that tells the story of surgeon with ASD.

4.     While not specifically diagnosed, Drax the Destroyer from “Guardians of the Galaxy” has become a favorite character in the autism community.

5.     Ben Affleck, in the “R” rated movie “The Accountant”, portrays an antihero with autism (this one isn’t for the kids).

And while we have fun exploring heroics in popular culture, we need to remember the real-life heroes with autism.  Those individuals who put themselves in harm’s way to assist others, those people who act with integrity, virtue, and bravery.

Heroes such as Micah David-Cole Fletcher, who was one of three individuals who stepped in to stop a white supremacist from harassing two girls on a Portland, Oregon train.  Two of those individuals died from injuries when the harasser attacked them for stepping in.  Micah was stabbed in the neck, but survived his injuries after a two-hour surgery.  Micah acted bravely and selflessly to help two people he didn’t know.  Micah is a real-life hero. 

While it is great to see heroes with autism becoming more common in our society, we should remember that greatness does not only appear in comic books, video games and movies.  There are real life heroes on the spectrum amongst us.

Neurodiversity Leads to Innovation and Solutions

Ernst & Young's neurodiversity pilot program results in innovation and exceeded expectations! Opportunity lies with those who think differently. Thank you to our supporter, Randy, for sharing this article with Mind Shift friends and family.  Your support and good will is integral to our success.   

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/newsletters/2017/jun/program-promoting-neurodiversity-big-four-firm.html?utm_source=mnl:cpald&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=12Jun2017

 

Autism and the Job Interview

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It is a well-documented fact that the autistic population is largely unemployed or underemployed, even those with exceptional talent and intelligence. One of the reasons these individuals are more likely to be unemployed is because of particular challenges presented by the traditional interviewing process. 

Here is why you may not get an accurate view of the skills of someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and could miss out on game-changing talent:

1.     Although individuals with ASD may translate computer code like their native language, they might have trouble interpreting facial cues and body language.  This makes it difficult for them to react to these social ques.

2.     Autism often makes people focused employees, but it can also come with social anxiety, shyness, and “quirky” behavior.  The stress that comes with the interview process can exacerbate this, and then be misread by the interviewer.

3.     Because of the black and white thinking found in autistic individuals, they tend to be refreshingly honest, but they can find it challenging to elaborate on particularly open-ended or abstract questions.

4.     Cultural biases, such as a firm handshake and appropriate eye contact are often expected from a job candidate, but physical contact and direct eye contact can be uncomfortable for some people with ASD.

5.     And on occasion, because you can’t possibly know everything about every disability, employers may misunderstand and inadvertently discriminate against those with autism.

So, how can employers change their interviewing method to move past these limitations?  Here are a few ways:

1.     Allow the applicant extra time to answer questions, and don’t assume using the extra time reflects an intellectual disadvantage.

2.     Focus on the skills and traits that are required to do the job well.

3.     Avoid jargon and hypothetical questions that might cause a black and white thinker to misunderstand a question, or answer a question too literally.

4.     Interview in a space with minimal distraction and environmental stimulus.

5.     Come to the interview with an open mind and allow your assumptions to be challenged.

There are a number of advantages to including people on the autism spectrum into a business or organization.  Considering the challenges the traditional interviewing process creates can allow access to our neuro-diverse applicants.

The Cultural Value of Employment

In the article, “Increasing Autism Employment: An Anthropologist’s Perspective”, Michael Bernick talks about three shifts in workplace culture regarding neurodiversity employment:

1.      The fact that businesses are becoming more aware of neurodiversity in our society.

2.      The movement to recognize the economic value of neurodiversity employment.

3.      The movement to support neurodiversity employment for reasons other than the economic value it brings.

When the author discusses the third point, he brings up an idea that has been discussed in the Mind Shift offices, and especially relates to the topic of Anthropology.  It’s the point that so much of who we are, how we spend our time, and how we define ourselves is written into what we do for a living. 

How much time do we spend with people, and in activities, that are directly or indirectly related to employment?  How much do we think about work and talk about work?  For all of us, the answer is probably a lot.  Employment is a large part of life.  It’s who we are.  When we are asked “what do you do?”, it’s how we answer, even though we do a lot more than just what we get paid to do.

Every organization that employs neurodiverse individuals should remember that they are not only making great hiring decisions that will positively affect their organization’s profitability, but are also giving their neurodiverse employees an opportunity for a cultural experience that they may not have had access to previously. 

The link to Mr. Bernick’s article is posted below for those of you who would like to learn more about the Anthropology of Diversity Employment:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelbernick/2017/05/09/the-anthropologist-of-autism-employment/