Asperger Ascent

Tips for Young Adults

Optional autism code on driver’s licenses: New law hits speed bump with some

I’m generally an optimistic person. But I always like to be aware of the potential downside of things — particularly when it concerns laws and regulations related to people on the autism spectrum. Which brings me to a law that went into effect this month in Virginia. As of July 1, Virginia drivers with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or others on the autism spectrum can volunteer to have an autism code embedded on their driver’s license. Ditto for non-drivers who carry a state identification card.

The new law has raised concern among some drivers and disability advocates who worry about the potential for discrimination from law enforcement in the future. 

The idea is that if stopped by law enforcement, displaying the card with the autism designation might keep police from misunderstanding any unusual behavior the person might display. My fear, however, is that a law meant for good could easily be used for ill. There’s no evidence that adults on the spectrum are better or worse drivers than the rest of the driving population — nor that they have more or less accidents. But the new law has raised concern among some drivers on the autism spectrum — as well as disability advocates — who are worried that they might face discrimination from law enforcement in the future if their licenses bear such a designation. 

Fortunately JP’s Law, as it is sometimes called, is voluntary. It is up to the individual driver to opt-in. Pam Mines says her 9-year-old son with autism was the catalyst for her pushing Virginia lawmakers to adopt an optional autism code that could appear on state identification cards and driver’s licenses. For Mines, it was a pre-emptive strike in case her son ever encountered law enforcement and could not articulate his disability.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Asperger's | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Summer of Sheldon

Yes, I’m seven seasons late to the beauty that is CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. The comedy won one of its lead characters, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a third Emmy this year in addition to his wins in 2010, 2011. Yet I’ve just discovered what a gift the show is to the community of people who have an interest in Asperger Syndrome. It is aspie cool to the nth degree.

sheldonActor Jim Parsons portrays Dr. Cooper, a gifted, gawky and genuinely lovable geek who exhibits some of the traits that can be associated with Asperger Syndrome: aloofness, inward focused, eidetic memory, discomfort in unfamiliar settings, the love of routine. The genius of the character and his place in the show is that he has a strong social group of peers who help him navigate the tricky world of interpersonal relationships. Oh that such social groups were the norm, not the exception.

Finding the right social group, one that you not only fit into but that makes you a better person, a higher achiever and moves you ever further toward self-actualization is sometimes an elusive goal for the person with an Asperger diagnosis. One-on-one relationships often can be easier than navigating group situations. Yet depending on one person for the bulk of your social activities can be limiting and disappointing, especially if schedules don’t mesh and opportunities to get together are minimum. That’s true even for people not on the spectrum and those who have no trouble meeting and connecting with new people.

A number of groups have sprung up to help anybody and everybody make social connections. Several are geared to young adults. Meetup.com is a great starting place to find an affinity group. Perhaps you love anime or videogames or cycling or outdoor adventures. Whatever your taste, there seems to be a Meetup to suit it. There’s even a specific Asperger group Meetup. Just go to the website, put in your Zip Code and you can find a group that gathers near you. Beyond that, churches, community groups, workplaces and the pages of your local newspaper or favorite local news website often provide information about activities and social groups that might appeal to you.

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Asperger's, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Navigating that first ‘real’ job

Getting that first “real” job can be a bear these days for young adults fresh out of college. The competition is fierce as the economy thrashes through the dregs of the recent recession and trudges through a largely jobless recovery. Use your college’s career and alumni offices, your network of friends and associates, social media sites like LinkedIn, and every resource you can think of to land in a full-time permanent job or an internship that can lead to that job. Once you get it, here are a few tips for success beyond the usual of being well groomed, professionally dressed and on time.
Stay in learning mode.

Not only do you need to learn the business of the business that you’ve landed in, you need to learn the culture, too. What you say and do at work is at least as important as what you don’t say and do. Steer clear of office politics. Keep your political and social views to yourself until you learn whom it is safe to share those with. Look for ways to distinguish yourself and your work in a positive way. Employers want to know early on that they’ve made a great hire because that person brings value to the organization.
If you want it to count, count it.

In other words, keep track personally of the things that you do. If you have a winning idea that the boss puts into force, keep tabs of that. Recalling the contributions you make through the year can be helpful when you update your resume or when you sit down with a supervisor to discuss your performance.

If you’re not the owner of the company, you’re a temp.

Meaning you work at your employer’s discretion. You are there to give your best. Whenever appropriate, put your ideas in writing. But if your employer chooses to ignore your suggestions, don’t take it personally. It is not your company.  Of course, if what you are dealing with is a personnel, safety, ethics or legal issue, you should not let those go unaddressed. Pursue them through the proper channels.
 Balance is key.

While work is important, you also benefit from having outside interests — your social life, your spiritual life, your community life and exercise. Young worker can sometimes tend toward the extremes — especially those fresh out of college without the responsibility of a life partner or a child. They channel all that youthful energy into long hours of work in an effort to get ahead in their careers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or, young workers sometimes go to the other extreme. They are so eager to have it all that they insist on working flexible hours or working from home — even when their employers frown on such practices. The key is to figure out what works best for you and the company. That way, you avoid misunderstandings.

May 14, 2011 Posted by | Asperger's, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment