Friday, 29 October 2010

Spoof website - "The Negative About Asperger Syndrome scheme"

I'd popped onto the MoneySavingExpert forum again and a thread titled "Asperger Syndrome and Disability Discrimination Act" had been bumped up by recent posts although it was started in April, by a writer who had put together a side of A4 to try and express the effects Asperger Syndrome to employers. The post speaks of why interviews are the main barrier to employment and goes on to suggest adjustments that could be made to both recruitment and interview processes and in employment itself. Replies included one suggesting that the passage is "quite overwhelming, in that it feels a bit too 'legal' ", and one advising to bring some advantages first "not being side-tracked by chit-chat but getting 'stuck in'; approach problems in a logical way; bringing honesty to the workplace". One reply is from a poster called 'SavvySue' whose son has AS, the last 'teambuilding day' we had would have either sent him screaming from the building, or he would have sabotaged it completely because he just couldn't do what was being asked. Mind you, I came close both those reactions myself ..." I know from my own time in the public sector (though I hadn't disclosed my condition in that job) I found 'teambuilding days' hard work doing role-play.

Then there is the writer's own website This has been written to highlight how most employers unwittingly discriminate against people with AS, but presented as a scheme employers follow to intentionally discriminate against AS, "The Negative About Asperger Syndrome scheme" rewording the text from the official government "Positive about Disabled People" scheme with this spoof symbol.

I wouldn't normally copy long complete texts for copyright reasons, but the link has not always worked and the home page of has a message about their hosting issues, so on this occasion:
About the scheme
If you have Asperger Syndrome, when applying for jobs avoid employers running the "Negative About Asperger Syndrome" scheme. Most employers currently run the scheme, but none currently display the warning symbol shown above.

Employers running the scheme have made commitments to help people with Asperger Syndrome stay unemployed and actively discriminate against them. They are keen to recognise communication and social difficulties consistent with the condition as reasons to not employ them. Applying for a job with them is a waste of time, once you have been to the interview they will not be interested. This scheme sometimes runs alongside the two ticks positive about disabled people scheme which may lead to confusion.

The five commitments
Employers who run the scheme make five commitments to ensure maximum discrimination against people with Asperger Syndrome during recruitment. These commitments are:

I.To advertise jobs as requiring good to excellent interpersonal, oral communication, and team-work skills. Even if the job itself does not require them.
II.To ask questions relating to social and communication skills in application forms, or use "psychometric" questionnaires.
III.To use interviews as the only means of determining suitability for employment. People with Asperger Syndrome are often disadvantaged in interviews compared with candidates who do not have the condition.
IV.To consider deficits in communication and social interaction justifiable cause to not offer employment, even if the job itself does not require these skills.
V.Whenever an applicant exhibits such deficits, always ignore their job-relevant qualifications, skills and abilities - even if they are better than those of other candidates.
The scheme has been highly effective. Nearly 90% of people with the condition are unemployed (source: Genevieve Edmonds & Luke Beardon (Eds), 2008, Asperger Syndrome & Employment: Adults Speak Out about Asperger Syndrome.)

Humourous and ironic as this may seem, the serious message is that as a jobseeker with Asperger, being constantly bombarded with the requirements stated leads to inevitable frustration at not being given a chance. It ties in with the comment I linked to a couple of weeks ago about "rigid person specifications" someone had posted on the DWP too.

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