How to be a team player at work

I am naturally a very, very solitary, self-motivated, intuitive person and generally I try to avoid collaborating with others on anything. A lot of other autistic people also greatly struggle working with other people and prefer to work on their own.

Realistically however, when you work, you may well end up having to work with other people on occassion. I am learning to be a bit more of a team player. Here are some of my tips on how to better work with other people when it’s very much out of your comfort zone and against your natural way of being. My conclusion is that you don’t have to change your personality or pretend to be something you’re not, but you could adjust your behaviour a little instead.

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The 4 types of communicator

I’ve been reading a lot about communication (not specifically in regards to autism, just general communication) recently and through my research I discovered that there are considered to be 4 main types of communicator according to something called the VAK model. They are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Feeling
  • Auditory Digital

Each type can be further broken down into 1) the choice of words somebody uses and 2) how they best understand information.

Let’s look in more detail about this.

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Cues for better mental health

I consider a cue to be a reminder or an instruction. Cues are incredibly helpful for people on the autistic spectrum. It might be a good idea to come up with some cues that you or your loved one can use.

Cues can be helpful for reminding us to do physical or practical tasks, such as reminding us to post a letter or to do a certain piece of work – but that’s not the limits. For people on the autistic spectrum, cues can do a lot more.

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How to help someone who is in shutdown

In comparison to meltdowns, shutdowns are not talked about much in literature about autism. For many people on the autistic spectrum and their families however, shutdowns are a significant aspect to learn to cope with.

What are shutdowns?

They might be different for different people but some things to look out for might be:

  • Becoming unresponsive
  • Being unable to talk
  • Being unable to think
  • A need to be alone
  • Appearing ‘lost in one’s own mind’
  • A massive lack of physical and mental energy
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10 ideas for being a friend to a person on the spectrum

Building a relationship with a person on the autistic spectrum can be a bit different to what neurotypical people might be used to. You may benefit from making some adjustments to the way you communicate and plan things. With some little adjustments and a more open mind, you can have a wonderfully enriching relationship. Here are 10 ideas and things to think about which may make your relationship blossom!

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Different behaviours at home vs when out

One of the most common things I hear from parents is that their child is well behaved at school but has terrible outbursts at home. Because the teachers don’t see these difficult behaviours, it might cause them to disbelieve the parents or not believe there are any ‘problems.’

Similarly with adults, an adult may get on very well at work and appear friendly and kind to their co-workers, yet can behave very differently and be difficult at home.

Professor Tony Attwood refers to this as the Jekyl and Hyde character.

It has been highlighted in many sources that individuals on the autistic spectrum display significantly different behaviours in different settings. In this article I will look at some reasons why this might occur and how the people around the ASD individual could better support them.

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Customer service training is conflicting!

I think it’s quite interesting that in traditional customer service training, people who work directly with customers (such as receptionists, shop assistants, checkout assistants, etc.) are trained to use language in ways that are generally quite conflicting to the usual ASD-friendly communication guidelines! I have a professional role in veterinary marketing and we work a lot with improving client communication. That and my

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Ignorance is bliss

The phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’ is very pertinent to me. I have noticed that I very much try to 1) live in the moment and 2) focus only on one thing at a time. These two tactics enable me to feel control in the world as it makes me feel grounded and causes me not to overthink anything.

I think there are at least three common reactions when a human being is faced with a task. They are:

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Interoception (brain to body signals)

I’ve been learning about interoception recently. Interoception is the signalling and perception of our own internal bodily sensations. I think of it very simply as the brain to body connection. Some examples might be recognising when you are hungry, when you need to go to the toilet, or when you are in pain.

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ASD adjustments to the interview process

The National Autistic Society suggests that more than 1 in 100 people are affected by an ASD. They also suggest that as many as 80% of people with an ASD are not working, yet are willing and able to. If you are an employer it is likely that you will come across a person with an ASD at some point. However, it is down to the individual whether or not they disclose their condition on their application form. Some are afraid to do so in case of discrimination by the employer. (My advice to people with an ASD would be to generally always disclose (if not at interview, disclose when you start the job.)

If a person has disclosed to you that they have an ASD when they apply, there are some reasonable adjustments you can make to make things better (more productive and sincere) for both of you. In this blog article, I will briefly give some suggestions on the sorts of things you could do to help a potential candidate with an ASD when you see them for interview.

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