Does the idea of networking make you feel uncomfortable? You are certainly not alone. Making professional connections is a critical aspect of career-building in most industries. An estimated 70-85% of people find work through networking. For autistic job seekers, however, networking can feel like navigating an endless array of exhausting social practices without much payoff. Finding a way to make it work for you takes some work upfront, but it is well worth it to figure out how to make meaningful professional connections while being yourself.
1. Let your interests guide your connections
Rather than focusing on how many different emails you could get at a networking event, for example, prioritize depth over breadth. Identify one or two people you might like to talk to, and ask them questions about their work. Showing genuine curiosity about what they do can help build the beginnings of a constructive connection. Plus, this 1:1 approach helps limit sensory overload and social exhaustion. Remember also that the ability many autistic people have to focus intently on a special interest can be a significant asset: One well-crafted, in-depth, thoughtful request for an informational interview or coffee chat can be more effective than twenty attempts you’re not so enthusiastic about.
2. Use social scripts to your advantage
Ideally you’ll have the opportunity to communicate in your own way, in your own voice. However, because autistic job seekers are in the minority in most industries, you may come across people who don’t understand the way you naturally communicate. Taking note of and practicing social scripts can be a helpful resource for you to use at your own discretion. A common form of social script for job seekers of all neurotypes is the “elevator pitch.” This is your 30-60 second opportunity to share only the most essential elements of who you are and what you have to offer as a job seeker. Take your time writing out your elevator pitch, practicing it out loud, or asking someone close to you to help you put it together. Using an elevator pitch can feel a little awkward initially, but the more you practice, the more confident you will sound. Here are some examplesto get you started.
3. Take self-care seriously
Seriously: searching for a job can become tiring, frustrating, and demoralizing if you’re not giving yourself enough breaks or pacing yourself in a healthy way. The better you feel physically and mentally, the better a chance you’ll have at showcasing your best self to potential connections. A lot of autistic people grow up feeling that assimilation and masking are necessary 24/7 in order to find and keep a job. It is critically important to remember that you are worthy of a career that feels fulfilling for you, exactly as you are. Making the connections required to build that career may take additional time, adaptations to neurotypical networking skills, and support, and that is absolutely okay.
This blog aims to highlight famous people who we’re most likely autistic! Autism is often overlooked in the world of fame; however there are often autistic people behind the worlds best inventions or movements.
Albert Einstein is a German theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity. Possibly the most famous mathematician of all time, Einstein had a number of interesting characteristics that indicated he could be on the Autistic Spectrum. This includes difficulties socialising and his delayed speech as a child. As well as this, he was evidently very technical, leading experts to believe that he may have been on the Autistic spectrum.
Sir Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton was an English physicist, astronomer, theologian and author. Thanks to research by the University of Cambridge, it is thought that Isaac Newton had Asperger’s and often isolated himself as much as he could. Other traits he possessed was being ‘notoriously awkward’ and relying on strong routines in his everyday life.
A leading Trinity College professor and psychiatrist, Michael Fitzgerald, researched and published a scholarly paper concluding that Charles Darwin had Asperger’s. Using historical records, it was clear that Darwin was a very quiet and isolated child who avoided social interaction. It was revealed he communicated in different ways such as writing letters and reports.
Many experts believed Andy Warholl, the famous artist, was autistic. After all, a lot of his work focused on the repetition of shapes and colours. When conducting interviews, Warhol often gave short and simple answers suggesting he may have had verbal dyslexia. However, much of his personality traits have been said to ‘enhance a sense of mystery’ amongst his viewers.
Dan Aykroyd is a famous actor, producer, comedian and musician who is famous for his role in the film The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters. He was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s Syndrome as a child after struggling and being expelled from two schools. Since then, Aykroyd has been honest about his experiences with autism. He has spoken freely about how his diagnosis of asperger’s contributed to his character in Ghostbusters.
Over the past year, young climate change activist Greta Thurnberg has taken the world by storm. She has been responsible for the new climate change movement, where protests and meetings with world leaders have taken place throughout the world. She spoke out over her Asperger’s diagnosis after she was criticised for having it, saying it makes her ‘different’ but she considers it a ‘superpower’.
Susan Boyle is a Scottish singer and made her way to fame after her spectacular performance back on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 where she then went on to sell a staggering 14 million albums. Boyle was diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2012, which she revealed a year later, where she said she feels ‘relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself’.
Tim Burton is an American filmmaker, artist, writer and animator. He is best known for his fantasy films such as Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Although Tim hasn’t been diagnosed, his long term partner actress Helena Bonham Carter once speculated that he was ‘possibly autistic’ during an interview. She revealed she had an ‘a-ha moment’ after she researched an autistic character for a film and compared much of the characteristics to Burton. Helena said ‘Autistic people have application and dedication. You can say something to Tim when he’s working and he doesn’t hear you. But that quality also makes him a fantastic father; he has an amazing sense of humour and imagination. He sees things other people won’t see.’
Temple Grandin has become possibly the most famous autistic person on the planet. A renowned author and professor who didn’t start speaking until she was 3 and a half, she communicated by screaming, peeping and humming. Doctors recommended she should be institutionalised. Fortunately, her parents didn’t agree with this conclusion. Grandin has gone on to be an autism-rights activist, animal science professor and named one of the TIME’s 100 most influential people.
Wall street actress Daryl Hannah first publicly revealed her autism 6 years ago. She is most famous for her staring roles in films including Blade Runner and Splash. She said her autism left her with a ‘debilitating shyness’ and made public events a terror for her. At the time of diagnosis as a child she said that medical professionals recommended she should be medicated and institutionalised, but thankfully she didn’t and persued her career as an actress. Since then, she has remained quieter within the industry and has instead decided to focus on environmental issues and other passions.