- Dell/EMC Autism Advantage at Work Summer Internship Program
- Google Online IT Support Certification Course
- Microsoft Autism Hiring Initiative
- Proctor and Gamble/Gillette Two Week Research and Development Internship for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
- Meaningful Jobs Initiative: May Institute Training Program for Individuals with ASD Interested in Employment with the TSA and/or Security Industry
- Casting Call for Television Documentary EmployABLE Me
Due to my Aspergers and anxiety issues I tend to hyper focus on my problems, conflicts with people, etc. I learned this as a result of having to overcome so many problems in obtaining my education. Hyper focus was my strength. Hyper focus was a plus in the school environment but not so good with my people skills and the work environment of sales, customer service positions that require flexibility in thinking and tasks. In my volunteer capacity at the Red Cross there is no structure in the job tasks I perform. I have been in a disaster operation with the organization, which causes a great deal of stress for me in trying to do a good job and working with people I do not know, and therefore don’t know their pattern of behavior. When I am overwhelmed I will lash out in frustration. Once the operation has settled down and I am performing a routine task that is suited to me than I am at peace.
Part of my goal in freedom and peace of mind is to have structure where I can manage my anxiety and rigid thinking as I interact with people. All my adult life I felt if I could be the expert and not have to rely on people skills. I would have been more peaceful in my work environment if I could have done that. When I would tell people it was very often discounted so when I worked in services where I had to interact with people, I thought they must be right.
In the past when I was cornered I would quit or leave a relationship or environment. Being sent away from home taught me that. In order to create peace and reduce my anxiety I have had help in learning coping skills to calm my mind. One of the mantras I use is, “I can not control it”. That pulls me out and gives my mind a break.
In the past decade, Tom Whalen, a 27-year-old Baltimore County man, has had jobs at an animal shelter, a mailroom, multiple grocery stores, a doggy day-care center and a landscaping company.
He is chatty, outgoing and engaging, quick to win over strangers and ask for opportunities. Then, in short order, he loses them.
“He could get jobs,” says his mother, Sue.
“The problem is maintaining them,” adds his father, Ed.
Tom was born with a heart defect, took forever to potty train and played mostly by himself during preschool. He was in kindergarten when an observant teacher offered the Whalens a hypothesis that might explain their son’s behavior: autism.
The next 12 years of school were marked by special-education plans, adapted-learning strategies, personalized assistance and lunches spent at what Tom remembers as “the reject table.” But it was also a haven of structure, safety and socialization. He had a place to go, people to look out for him, opportunities every day to learn and find his strengths. (Tom could solve complicated math problems in his head — he just couldn’t explain to teachers how he’d done it.)