Well, Rob has quit another job, a call center job, because the hours were too strenuous (he has sleep issues that magnify stress, and this job began at 6AM. I think he could have coped if the job had later hours). I keep encouraging him to identify as AS and ask for reasonable accommodation (as per the ADA regulations), but he resists. I discovered yesterday that he is intimidated by the process, so I’m doing some research here. This link provides some helpful information:
Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Asperger Syndrome  Accommodation Ideas.

1 in 3 autistic young adults lack jobs, education – Boston.com.

I guess Rob is doing better than many young adults with autism: he has completed some college courses in digital arts, and had several paying jobs. He just has trouble keeping jobs, and difficulty finishing school. After a few short stints at hourly wage jobs, he is about to start training for a job that is actually a salaried position with benefits; he really hopes he can keep this one, but still refuses to work closely with a life coach to help that happen. So we’ll see.

He has said that he sees working with a job coach as like being in special education. He wants to be normal. I keep trying to tell him that even NT people often need the help of a job coach to succeed. Anybody out there with some experience in this regard they want to share?

Well, not long after my last post, Rob lost the job at the print shop. The owner seemed like a nice guy and one that really wanted his employees to succeed; so I did what I have not done until now: I called him to get his story on why Rob was fired. Rob said he had no idea, except that he had been late a few times. I try really hard not to be a “helicopter parent” but I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. What I learned is that the problem was mainly with communication. Lateness was an issue, but that was also fueled by bad communication. He felt that he could just not “get through” to Rob. He was sad and puzzled because he thought that Rob’s technical skills were excellent.

I asked him if he knew that Rob has AS. He said he did not, but that knowing made certain things more understandable. Here is an example he gave me that helped me understand the communication struggles they were having:

Rob was coming to work in wrinkled t-shirts. The boss wanted him to look more professional, but rather than say so directly, he tried to be indirect. The print shop had polo shirts as well as t-shirts, so the boss had Rob make a polo shirt with his name on it and put it on, and then told him how much better and more professional he looked. The next day, Rob showed up again in a wrinkled t-shirt. When his boss asked, “What happened to the polo shirt?” Rob replied, “I don’t like polo shirts.”

Rob totally missed the point: which he tends to do if it is not spelled out directly. This also had ramifications for the issue of being late. The shop opened at 9. The boss wanted Rob there by 8:45. Rob was getting there consistently right at 9. Rob didn’t really believe that it was that important to get there early, since the shop opened at nine, and it only took a minute or so to open the store. The boss felt that it was an issue of trust. This is an issue we have had with Rob as well; he has his own way of doing things, and if he doesn’t agree with our logic or reasons for something he tends to disregard them.

The lateness is what finally got to his boss. He wanted to be able to call the store at 8:45 and know that someone was there getting ready. It was his way of feeling like things were in control. It was important enough to him that he fired Rob over it. 

I suspected it was this type of issue that was at the root of his troubles, because it is the type of thing we have with Rob all the time. And we have told him repeatedly that part of building trust is knowing that he will respect our reasoning and way of doing things even if he doesn’t agree with them, that he will learn to value what we value (truthfulness, honesty, promptness, reliability).

I did not ask the boss to give Rob another chance, nor did he offer to. So Rob went back on the job market. He found a job almost immediately in another graphic design shop, but that job also ended after a few months. We really aren’t sure about what happened with that one. The work environment was pretty dysfunctional so it may not have had anything at all to do with Rob. But that’s a story for another post.

 

Yes, Rob now has  job #4. Job #3 didn’t work out – they told him “his best wasn’t good enough.” I think mainly it is because it was a very fast-paced environment, with a drive thru as well as a busy walk-in service. Rob couldn’t handle the multi-tasking quickly and accurately enough. So now he has a new job at a slower restaurant.  I think this is a better fit – there is no drive thru, it is not high volume, and you stay with each customer all the way through the sale. Hopefully he will be able to keep this job. With the economy the way it is, any job is a godsend, but this one pays pretty well, too.

His driving has improved substantially. He got a speeding ticket and had to go to driving school. I think that finally got his attention. He realizes any more tickets go on his record. So now he seems to be driving very responsibly. That’s a relief!

He is now enrolled full-time at the local community college in his graphic arts program. He is doing fine so far. He got As last semester in his 2 classes.