#neurodiversityatwork

Show Me Your Superpowers!

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This blog was originally published by Cortnee Jensen on October 2, 2016:

"I saw an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon and Raj were looking at data to identify anomalies that would indicate an object in space. Sheldon looked at the computer screen for about 3 seconds and said “Found one!” Raj told him that was impossible, but sure enough he had. Raj asked how he found it so quickly. Sheldon: “You know how when you see prime numbers they appear red but when they're twin primes they're pink and smell like gasoline?” Raj: “No?” Sheldon: “Huh, I guess I'm a special boy.”

While this may be an extreme version of pattern recognition, it is common for critical information to jump off the screen for some of our folks on the autism spectrum. Exceptional pattern recognition makes those individuals particularly efficient and accurate in data management tasks like data entry or data scrubbing. Likewise, user experience testing for apps and websites brings out their best. Identifying the errors or inconsistencies on a page or from page to page is engaging and even invigorating for them. Catching the thing that nobody else noticed gives them a chance to show off their super powers. Superman may have x-ray vision, but an eye for detail can be just as revealing." 

Mind Shift would like to wish everybody a happy and safe Independence Day.  We'll be closed on July 4th, and then back at it again on the 5th.  If you want to learn more about how leveraging the strengths of the autism spectrum can benefit your business, email info@mindshift.works.  You can do good work while doing good.

 

The University of Washington and Microsoft Change the World of Work!

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In the article, “How UW, Microsoft are pitching in to help job-hunters with autism”, author Rachel Lerman introduces her readers to Project Search, a program through the University of Washington and Seattle Public Schools that trains people with ASD in skills that are important in the world of work.  Along with the training opportunity, Project Search also helps individuals on the autism spectrum find great job opportunities.

Lerman discusses the challenges that individuals on the spectrum face when entering the world of work. One such challenge is the spectrum itself.  This wide-ranging spectrum makes structured educational and training programs difficult. 

To resolve this concern, Project Search partners with businesses to provide internships to participants as often as possible, so training may be more personalized.  

Lerman also mentions the challenges that come from traditional recruiting and hiring methods, specifically she discusses the resume and the interview process.  Both of which, as many hiring managers will tell you, do not always present accurate or predictable information.  

To resolve these challenges, Lerman talks about Microsoft’s Hiring Academy, which not only works as a recruiting tool, it also offers training opportunities through classes on communication, tests for technical understanding and ability, and group games and activities.  

Opportunities like Project Search and Microsoft’s Hiring Academy are part of a nationwide movement by businesses to actively recruit individuals on the spectrum.  While, yes, these programs provide individuals with ASD opportunities for independence, they also provide benefits for our communities and our society at large.  But most importantly, and this fact is not lost on our business partners, it makes good business sense.  This is an untapped labor pool of people with skills, talents, and abilities that are of direct benefit to business.

Mind Shift appreciates this perspective.  We want our business partners to work with us because it makes good business sense.  We want to be considered an organization that provides exceptional talent that helps businesses move forward.  As we like to say, we help businesses do good work while doing good.

To read Rachel Lerman’s article, follow this link: https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/thinking-differently-about-employment/

And to learn more about how Mind Shift can help your business, visit www.mindshift.works!

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.

It's True! You can do good for your business while also doing good!

Mind Shift helps businesses accomplish great things through the employment of high-functioning adults on the autism spectrum.  If you are looking for employees with high attention to detail, an eye for accuracy, a strong work ethic and drive to contribute to a great organization and culture, Mind Shift can help!

We have partnered with great businesses like General Electric, Eide Bailly, Target, Anthem Healthcare, and Appareo Systems to leverage the strengths of the autism spectrum in their organizations.  

If you want to learn more about how Mind Shift can help your business do great things while doing good for your community and your neighbors, write info@mindshift.works.  

Team Acai helps Mind Shift Move the Needle!

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Last week Mind Shift was privileged to be joined by a team of MBA students from the University of Michigan. The team is participating in the Center for Social Impact’s Ross Open Road Program.

As their website, http://socialimpact.umich.edu/programs/ross-open-road/, explains, “teams embark on their own journeys of impact in an effort to scale support for visionary entrepreneurs in communities far and wide.”  

We were joined by Team Acai. Courtney, Apoorva, Alexis, and Ian spent the week analyzing our program and our systems, having conversations with Specialists, employees, and business partners, and strategizing ways to move Mind Shift forward.  The team provided us with a number of tools and ideas that will allow us to better serve our customers, our Specialists, and the community.

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you know that we believe that differing point of views inspire innovation and have real value for businesses.  Team Acai brought a different point of view.  And Mind Shift is already benefiting from it.  

Courtney, Apoorva, Alexis, and Ian, you are always welcome at Mind Shift.  Good luck in your travels.  Hopefully we’ll see you soon.

If you want to learn how different points of view, like Autism Spectrum Disorder, can benefit your business, or if you want to learn about the value Team Acai brought to Mind Shift, please reach out to us via our website: www.mindshift.works.

Culture Fit is a Qualification

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When recruiting, employers typically focus on a particular role or position.  They ask: ‘Can the new employee take over the tasks of the old employee?”  But cultural and organizational fit is also important.  In fact, a popular saying is “hire for organizational fit, train for skill.” Or, “hire for attitude, not aptitude.” 

It is a known fact that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder present a particular set of skills, talents, and abilities that bring value to an organization.  And that these skills, talents, and abilities may not be found to the same degree within neurotypical individuals.  But people with autism also bring characteristics to a business that contribute to a healthy and sustainable culture.

Here are 6 ways that individuals with autism can benefit business culture:

1.      Integrity and honesty: Individuals with autism often are characterized as having black and white thinking. They “tell it like they see it.” While this honesty can be surprising, it is also effective in getting to the heart of issues that are often disguised behind niceties and office politics. This allows issues to be resolved long before they reach a boiling point.

2.     Focus: Individuals with ASD often excel at tasks that can seem repetitive and overly complex.  Their ability to focus for extended periods of time allow them to efficiently engage in the task at hand, often surpassing expected deadlines and falling well below acceptable margins of error.

3.     Detail Orientation: Specialists are often able to process and work with complex sets of data effectively and over long periods of time. They are able to find differences and changes in patterns that might typically be overlooked.  They will not only find the needle in the haystack, they will enjoy the search.

4.     Process Optimization: Often, with their eye for detail, individuals with autism will recognize steps that aren’t necessary to complete the objective and won’t hesitate to communicate these inefficiencies. This can lead to a fresh perspective on old systems, which can lead to time and money saving changes that will benefit the organization.  

5.     Loyalty and commitment:  There is a saying about individuals with ASD: they don’t dig many holes, they dig one hole deep.  Individuals with autism aren’t typically jockeying for that next promotion or great business to jump to. They want to be valued and appreciated for the skills and ability they bring to the job and want the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.   

6.  A different way of thinking:  Mind Shift doesn’t see autism is a disability.  It is a different ability.  It is a different way of seeing the world.  Visionaries will tell you that one needs to see differently to come up with new methods, solutions, and ideas.  It’s this unique way of seeing the world that can bring game-changing innovation and inspiration to an organization.

Because of the way they process information, and the unique way they see the world, individuals with autism excel at particular tasks and roles, but they also present a positive influence the organization as a whole.  

To learn more about how autism employment will benefit your business and your culture, contact Mind Shift at info@mindshift.works.

Mind Shift Opens New Office in Moorhead

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Mind Shift has exciting news.  The Fargo office is moving!  

We will be officially opening our new office on April 30th on the 7th floor of the U.S. Bank Building in Moorhead.  The official address is 403 Center Ave Suite 702, Moorhead, MN 56560.

From this new location we will continue our mission to make the world of work a place where all people are valued for their unique way of thinking.  

Come visit us.  Take in the amazing view.  Check out the early modernist architecture.  

And of course, to learn more about how Mind Shift can help you find employees who excel at detail-rich tasks, contact us 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.