Asperger people / in the Autistic Spectrum Light as they can manage a work, their own ambitions or their own talents?
From personal experiences and from the stories of our followers, we know that for some the greatest difficulties are found not only in seeking work and in maintaining it, but also in reconciling one's own way of being with a world that is not aware of it. We talked about it with Dr. Roberto Keller.
Roberto Keller is a psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrist and coordinator of the Regional Pilot Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in adulthood - Asl Torino 2.
Dr. Keller directs the Center from the 2009, coordinates a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and educators who follow patients in the diagnostic, therapeutic and finally in training and work.
We were greeted by Dr Keller right in the Center of Course France 73 which is currently in expansive phase and probably will soon have a new office (as soon as we have news we will update you).
What is the situation like in Italy?
Temple Grandin claimed that Asperger people or other cognitive differences could contribute to the society that neurotypical people were unable to make.
What is the direction to take in order to move from a knowledge that is still too stereotyped or that sees autism as something to "heal", to social wealth?
We must begin to come out of a vision that can be more traditional and that sees autism as a disorder, to move on to the idea of autism as a group of people who with their characteristics and talent can enrich society and bring in the same a different point of view.
"A different mind", that is a different way of thinking, seeing things from a different point of view we have new perspectives, enriching for all and it has been shown throughout history, just see the same Temple Grandin.
On an institutional level, how are Asperger people, high functioning autistic, recognized? We know that protected categories could be used.
Every person is different, so the path we can think of for one might not work for the other, it is difficult to make a speech that involves everyone.
As far as job placements are concerned, registering for mandatory employment lists [protected editors] could be an advantage because companies have tax breaks. It is clear, however, that this is also a statement of one's own way of being Asperger, so it is necessary to have good self-awareness first.
What percentage of unemployment is there among Asperger people?
Surely most of them do not easily find work because there are difficulties in relation to relationships and social interaction.
Percentages do not succeed in giving it also because there is still not even a national register from an epidemiological point of view. We can have some data in the developmental age, some single data in adulthood, for example here we have about 400 autistic people, of which a high functioning third and of these there are few who carry out a career path self.
Work is a goal that we must try to achieve with all our energy, but it must be built. We do not think that once you have a medical forensic label, you can immediately find a job, in fact, in this way you risk sending the person in jeopardy.
Resuming the discussion on the law of protected placement, this should be considered an advantage from a legal point of view, but the real process of qualification must take place in terms of social competences, because if this aspect is not improved, even a job that can be easily (or hardly) then found it becomes very tiring to maintain over time.
A characteristic of the Asperger person is the difficulty a handle stress, they give so much, they use a lot of energy, but in the long term this can become a disadvantage. Instead, it is important to know how to dose one's own strength, limit and manage one's own stress and its origin, know what one's limit of exposure to sensory stimuli is and remember that after a certain number of hours you need a break, to detach, to to be silent, to be alone.
Training of Aspergers and companies
Is it more useful to train Aspergers to prepare them for a neurotypical working world or to make the Asperger resources, talents and sensibilities known to the world of work?
When we want to make entries into the world of work, we must first prepare Asperger people much earlier. This is because on the one hand they have talents, on the other they have some difficulties in the social skills. The latter are required to work, stay in a team or attend unstructured moments such as coffee breaks.
Before sending the person to a traineeship or job placement, it is important to follow a path in which these skills are taught through learning groups, so as not to send her to jeopardy.
Then surely also the working environments should be prepared, in particular for certain important aspects such as sensoriality. For an ordinary person it is difficult to guess that an Asperger person can be annoyed for example by neon lights, loud noises, chaotic environment. For this reason it could be experienced as snobbish, difficult or with particular characteristics of anxiety, when instead it is something that is part of its structure, of its DNA.
Speaking of sensitivity, how can Asperger people shield themselves as they live without filters on an emotional and sensory level?
Including in social skills there are also those of managing conflict, conversing with each other and negotiating an employment relationship.
All these aspects must be prepared, as well as the discourse on performance anxiety or social phobia. It must be done before sending the person to a working environment. Then once installed it must be supported and not left alone in its path.
This different way of thinking it can also bring many advantages for companies.
For some types of work Asperger people perform better than neurotypical people. Attention to detail, tenacity and a predisposition to prolonged concentration are characteristics that together with the ability to focus strongly on one objective over time are winning for some types of work. We think of quality control, for example, or certain types of design where they can carry one alternative vision compared to neurotypical people.
Certainly this is still understood by many. However, even now, we are beginning to receive from companies the first requests for the inclusion of Asperger people, precisely because they are looking for the qualities we have been talking about.
Here in Turin you organize a Social Skill course to teach social skills, do you think it is a replicable project in other realities?
Social Skill Training groups, that is, training on social skills, on the one hand have the advantage of teamwork, or what is taught is immediately experienced, on the other hand that of being an easily replicable model because it is linked to a manualized procedure [disclosed in the manual, Editor's note].
The techniques can be taught and easily used in other areas.
The people we lead groups have many years of experience and have tried to use Social Skill in different contexts. In fact, once modified for use in the Asperger, they found that it is an easily replicable model.
Social acceptance and the difficulty of living
Can talent enhancement also be a way to facilitate social acceptance?
Enhancing the talent and special interests that Asperger people can become a passport that helps their cultural and social acceptance.
Arriving at transforming passions, or rather, selective (special) interests in a job would reach the maximum of the enabling project.
By channeling this passion into a working world we would have a highly motivated person.
The ultimate goal is just that, to identify the most socially useful special interests, enrich them, enhance them, channel them and make them become a job.
Often Asperger's Syndrome is accompanied by comorbidity.
In your opinion, the lack of awareness and the non-exploitation of talent, together with the lack of social recognition, could be among the main causes of the emergence of these?
By co-morbidity we mean a pathological problem such as an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder or another type of association that goes to associate with Asperger.
This happens for what reasons? First of all because paradoxically Asperger, compared to other forms of autism, has a better cognitive functioning. This means that it is often not recognized in developmental age and therefore the person finds himself living as a child, as a teenager. in a world that does not understand and from which it is not understood. All this generates chronic stress that lasts for many years.
Often at school Asperger people are bullied, teased, not understood. Sometimes even some teachers find them rude because they are too direct and frank.
All this stress accumulated for years more easily determines the onset of an associated psychopathology, the most frequent are mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
When the person then receives a diagnosis in adulthood he finds himself, in addition to Asperger, the whole hard to live which has continued for many years.
An independent life is possible even for those who have more difficulties. Certainly there is still much to be done so that companies and companies learn to recognize the potential of Asperger people (in the mild Autistic Spectrum) and the work carried out in Turin by Dr Keller's team becomes "normality".
Tell us about your work experiences if you like!