We’ve talked about how communication challenges can affect employment, now let’s discuss presentation. Yes, skills and knowledge regarding your field are important. People with ASD tend to have this, so we can check that off the list. However, people have additional criteria for deciding whether or not an employee is a good fit for their company. For example, people are rarely willing to put up with slovenly appearance and poor hygiene, even if a prospective employee has incredible skill. Unfortunately, people that have ASD may have sensory challenges that make wearing a suit and tie, or dress shoes nearly impossible. They may experience difficulty with the sensation of the shower on their skin. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder may also be idealistic and just want to be accepted for who they are, regardless of how they dress. These are important issues to address as your first impression will determine whether you make it to the next level, or your resume is deleted.
Sometimes an important part of the hiring process involves one’s online presence. Prospective employers routinely check Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, blogs, videos and even posts to see if an employee will fit in with the company’s culture. Looking at online profiles is typically the first screening tool for determining one’s employability. This particular area is one in which a lot of people struggle. Unaware of the significance online presence plays in the ability to get a job, Aspies, Autistics and neuro-typicals alike struggle with this.
Overall, when seeking a job or looking to maintain your job it is important to remember that it’s not just how you view yourself that matters, it’s also how your employer and co-workers view you.
Now that we’ve gone over these challenges, what can you do? On the topic of dress, you can try a few things. Find some fabrics that are dressy and still tolerable to your senses. Perhaps an unscented laundry soap will help with any fabric smells you find uncomfortable. Try to build a tolerance for less comfortable fabrics by wearing them for a few minutes to start and then a little bit longer each day, until they are easier to wear.
Regarding hygiene, take a bath rather than a shower. People have very little tolerance for others who stink or look dirty. Make sure to wear a deodorant or antiperspirant and that your clothes are cleaned regularly.
Finally, when posting things on social media, be aware that the internet is a very public place. Make your account private and only available to friends. Once something is posted on the internet it is next to impossible to remove completely. For example, if you friend shared one of your posts it is available to all of their friends and you cannot remove it.
If your employer and co-workers sense that you truly are doing your best, they will likely help you out. Let’s turn these unemployment numbers around!
Source: lecture by Timothy P. Kowalski M.A, C.C.C. – www.socialpragmatics.com
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help creating positive strategies for employment? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.