Mind Shift

Mission: Milwaukee!

At Mind Shift, we have a vision for a world in which people on the autism spectrum are valued for the unique and substantial skill they add to the world of work. Mind Shift started out by employing that incredible talent at partnering businesses in the Fargo-Moorhead and Minneapolis-St.Paul areas, but our desire to see talent utilized doesn't end there.

So, because of incredible support from partners like Dan Tarrence, we would like to introduce you to our next phase - Mission: Milwaukee! 

We hope you enjoy the photos of us as we begin the process of setting up our new Milwaukee office! Believe it or not, we actually got some work done despite the lack of furniture and the tomfoolery of a few staff that shall remain nameless. (But, if you look closely at the photos, they are not exactly faceless!)

We are thrilled to be taking this next step and promise to keep you updated. Let's do this!

-Cortnee

4 Ways to Increase Clarity, Transparency and Innovation in your Workplace

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is just that, a spectrum.  And as such, it is not accurate to assume there are behaviors that apply to all diagnosed with it.  But if we look at characteristics common among those diagnosed with ASD, we are able to gain an understanding of it, and can work to make an environment where everyone can thrive.  

Here are 4 simple ways to make your office ASD-friendly that will benefit your entire organization:

  1. Clearly define expectations:  Often individuals with ASD are “black-and-white” thinkers.  They can’t always interpret more nuanced, passive communication.  Because of this, clearly defining what is expected and what success looks like, can benefit their effectiveness.  And by alleviating the ambiguity of expectations for all employees, businesses will find opportunities for greater accountability and positive outcomes.
  2. Create a less distracting work environment:  Individuals with ASD can be acutely affected by the work environment.  This means that florescent light, or subtly buzzing machinery, or an odd smell emanating from the break room can become a distraction.  A person on the spectrum will quickly and honestly communicate any of these distractions, while a neuro-typical worker will suffer from them in silence or in ignorance until their effects on productivity or mood becomes apparent.
  3. Create an opportunity for safe, clear, communication: ASD is often referred to as a social disability, and with it come challenges to navigating the social environment most take for granted.  By creating a workplace where everyone can feel safe communicating, all employees will feel more inclined to speak up, and know their communication will be received and appreciated. This will result in a transparent culture, a trusting workforce, and an increase in company loyalty. This can also result in more frequent procedural innovation.
  4. Focus on strengths:  Too often, we assess performance to improve upon weaknesses instead of working to reinforce strengths.  This creates an expectation on the employee to “fix” themselves so they more closely align with expectations.  By focusing on strengths, and areas where the employees excel, we can feel confident that the individual is in the right seat.  Instead of covering a weakness they are embracing a strength.

We can move beyond our notion  that individuals on the spectrum face work challenges that are unique only to them.  When we do, these simple changes can lead to opportunities for all of us to be more productive (and happier) members of our organizations.

 

 

Giving Invincibility?

It is difficult to describe the incredible feeling that you get when someone believes in you, comes alongside you and when someone invests in you. It is a powerful feeling. For me, it is the closest thing to invincibility I have ever experienced. The feeling that, with people beside me, I can do ANYTHING. Thank you for coming alongside the talented people with autism that we train, showing them that they are worth investing in, and for believing in their incredible talent and value.

135 people, 11 businesses, a Kiwanis club and a church all came together and we raised $42,426 in just ONE day!  We came together from 40 cities in 10 states and 2 countries. We came together because we believe in investing in the incredible talent and value of people on the autism spectrum.

A special thank you to the four families, that have asked to remain anonymous, that provided $16,000 in matching money to help spur us on to greater generosity.

And finally, stay tuned, because we are not yet done. The Dakota Medical Foundation and the Impact Foundation (the brains, brawn and heart behind Giving Hearts Day) provide extra grants as incentives to non-profit organizations to engage more people and do better work. And this year, thanks to all of you, we are in the running for potential additional funds! We find out in April and I promise to keep you updated!

In Gratitude,

Cortnee (for the entire Mind Shift team)

And, in case you missed it, here is the video that our Giving Hearts Day Intern, Kyle, made to help tell our story...

Thinking Differently about Thinking Differently

We rarely think at all about how people in our social circle or our family think differently from us. We make constant, small assumptions that our common experience gives us a common point of view on how things "should be". Unless, of course, there is conflict. How many times have we thought or said, "what were you thinking?!".

Some differences in thinking have become cliches in our culture. "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by John Gray cemented what was already common knowledge. Our gender can create unique styles in how we function. And now, that concept of difference created by gender is a shared perception. Today, it's a surprise when we find that a member of the opposite sex thinks about things in the same way as us!

People on the autism spectrum experience the world in a way that is different from those who are not on the autism spectrum. Stated in the most straightforward and simplistic way, they think differently. For too long, this different way of thinking has been viewed only as a liability and the behaviors associated with this different way of thinking have been considered completely undesirable.

Perhaps its time to think differently about how people on the autism spectrum think differently. At Mind Shift, we believe that the unique qualities associated with autism spectrum disorder can be valuable if our culture will begin to see the differences as valuable. To make this change a reality, all of us will need to change how we think about the autism spectrum. There is no question that, like everyone, people with ASD have challenges that need to be considered in their daily interactions AND like any person operating in a culture that is filled with people who view the world differently, they need to remember that others may not share their perspective. At the same time, those of us not on the spectrum need to be open to the dramatically different world view that people on the autism spectrum may have. As we open our minds to the difference in how people on the autism spectrum think differently, we will become more aware of how all of the people in our world, both professional and personal, also think differently. And the question will no longer be, "what were they thinking?!", but "why didn't I think of that?!"