Tag Archives: Diversity

You Are The Problem

In general, I don’t like the statement in the subject, “You are the problem!” In particular, I don’t like it when it is used in situations where there is a “perceived” problem, which in many cases turns out to simply be a difference of opinion.

Let’s say that some people have a certain view point and believe that people who don’t agree are causing some type of problem. The people who don’t agree with the first group either do not see a problem, or may even see the first group as the problem (or part of the problem).

Now I’d like to share the scenario that prompted this post. I was browsing through a Facebook meme post regarding rights. It had a quote from Karl Marx, “Remove one freedom per generation and soon you will have no freedom and no one would have noticed.

In the comments, there were a lot of references to libtards, liberal scum, sheep, etc. Insults to the intelligence of a broad range of people. And MANY references to God, prayer, taking back our nation (I keep asking who took it away from us), and fighting for our nation.

Here’s the kicker, one person basically said that non believers are “why we are in trouble.”

I feel pretty powerful now. America is “in trouble” because I don’t believe in God! I wonder what would happen if all of us “nones” suddenly started believing in God. America would be GREAT again?

No, probably not. Here’s what I think would make us a great nation. Forget about the past – look to the future. Do not aim to take away existing rights, even if you disagree with those rights. Seek to maintain rights and only make changes that would keep the public safer. Engage in dialog to understand differing view points. Read a variety of sources on a given topic. Understand that there is a TON of diversity in the world and people have different views on issues – and those different views do NOT make them less intelligent than you.

Dividing Messages

Some messages are put into the public space seemingly only to divide people. I came across this one today on Facebook and it caused me quite a bit of grief, along with the comments supporting the message.  To me, this message is the epitome of passive aggressiveness.  There is nothing in this message to unite us as humans.  It has subtle undertones of “Hey, we’re Christians and you have to do it our way.  Like it or not!”

Division-Religion

The majority of the people responding to that message are close family members.  I love them dearly and always will.  If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I just “came out” as a non believer.  Just because I love my family, it doesn’t mean that I agree with them.  I also decided to speak up so that more people are exposed to critical thinking and more friends and family may be encouraged to speak out against messages that seem to only divide us.  Too many of us take things like this at face value, or simply believe it because it matches what they feel and/or believe.

To those family members, I am truly sorry if you are offended by this blog post.  I will not be silent and I hope that you understand that I am not “attacking” anyone.  I’m only attempting to be more open and honest about my views.

It saddened me to read one of the first replies: “Only idiots want you to say happy holiday anyhow, since holiday mean ‘holy day’.”  Because to me, saying Merry Christmas is great when you are confident that your audience is Christian and celebrates like you do.  Saying Happy Holidays is much less likely to exclude people who are not Christian AND is a positive message.  I cannot think of anything unkind (or idiotic) about saying Happy Holidays.

I spoke up to explain with: “Ummm, there’s more than one holiday during that period. There’s more than one religion. And there’s non believers celebrating in a variety of ways. So why not be more inclusive instead of assuming everyone is just like you and celebrates your holiday and believes what you believe?”

And I get responses like this (My thoughts follow each in red text):

  • Do you just want to do away with Christmas, Easter and any acknowledgement of anything Christian, or God? Christmas is the main holiday at that time of year and no one can take our right away to say Merry Christmas. If you don’t like it, just excuse us for believing differently than you do.
    When you tell someone merry Christmas and they don’t believe, it can be a bit disconcerting. They feel isolated. Saying happy holidays is more inclusive, but if you know that the person you are speaking to celebrates the way you do – then say merry Christmas.
  • I also received a chat that I was attacking Christianity and it’s followers.
    No, but I certainly felt belittled by the comment that only idiots want people to say Happy Holidays. That is a mild form of attack, regardless of my beliefs or non-beliefs.
  • …do not try to make those of us who choose to say Merry Christmas feel guilty. You just make our belief’s stronger, and we pray harder for those of you who want to crush our faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that you are searching for God, and rebelling against what you believe to be true. My prayers will continue to help you find Him.
    I never said anything about guilt.  I don’t want people to feel guilty for saying Merry Christmas, but to understand why Happy Holidays is appropriate in many circumstances.  I’m also not into crushing people’s faith.  But on the other hand, I’m NOT searching for God.
  • If you truly do not believe in God, why do you care about a bunch of empty words on your behalf? Why do you continue to post your non beliefs? We don’t want to be inclusive. We who truly believe, want to be positive about our wishes.
    This one was the kicker for me. I was speechless for a moment. Number one, words are not empty. The entire message in the image was “Hey, do it my way – not this new way that is more inclusive.” And the part about me continuing to post my non belief, well – because I want the people of the world to know that non believers are regular people who have values, beliefs, compassion, and everything that believers have. “We don’t want to be inclusive.”  That REALLY goes against my core belief of valuing diversity.  We have so many kinds of people.  Short, tall, skinny, fat, pale white to dark dark brown, olive toned, red toned, too many denominations of Christians to even think about, various other religions (estimates of 4,200), and such a huge diversity of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.  If we were open to sharing beliefs WITHOUT the intent of CONVERTING someone to the way we feel, we would learn so much.

My family is praying for me – and I appreciate the fact that they are thinking about me and care for me.  I’m not praying for them though.  Instead, I’m thinking about them and hoping that they will learn to be more accepting of the diversity in our world.

Updated Article: Asperger’s in the Workplace

Many have heard or have used the words Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Bi-polar, OCD, and so on.  Individuals with these labels have a wide variety of abilities and behaviors.  Often when you hear Asperger you think of a child, but children become adults and enter the workforce.  Do you work with someone labeled this way?  Do your coworkers have children or grandchildren who face this reality daily?  Recently in the news, companies such as SAP and Freddie Mac are heavily recruiting autistic individuals hoping to harness ! their unique talents and to give them a chance to flourish in a job and spark innovation.  For Ari Ne’eman, president of the Washington DC-based Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and a member of the U.S. National Council on Disability, the moves are welcome and well overdue.  “We need to see neurological diversity in much the same way as we’ve seen workplace diversity efforts in the past on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation.” 

Eilene Edwards from the Supplier Management Learning Solutions team has personal interest in seeing this neurological diversity come to fruition.  She and husband Aaron are the parents of two boys.  Their oldest Ryan is seated next to dad.  Their youngest Luke, seated next to Eilene, has Asperger’s and struggles with the battle between these strengths and difficulties daily.  Understanding the strengths and difficulties associated with Asperger’s has helped her to avoid many problems and handle problems that do arise in a more effective way.

Family enjoying pizza.
Family enjoying pizza.

Asperger’s Defined

Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a milder variant of Autistic Disorder.  The fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM5.org ASD Fact Sheet defines ASD:  “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms.”

ASD Strengths in the Workplace

  • Exceptional memory including understanding concepts presented in material and images.
  • Detailed understanding of concrete concepts, rules and sequences.
  • Intensely focused.
  • Very precise and detail oriented, which can be combined with high levels of focus on tasks that others may not want to do.
  • Schedule driven.

ASD and Difficulties in the Workplace

Two difficult aspects of work for the ASD individual include social interactions and transitions.

  • Social interaction difficulties may include not understanding nonverbal cues, strict adherence to rules and the expectation that others also adhere to said rules, blunt language (which is “truth” to them), and sometimes repetitive behaviors.
  • Transitions happen quite a bit more often than non ASD individuals realize, and each transition has the potential to cause distress in the ASD individual.

Social Interactions

How do you know when you are boring someone you are talking with?  It is likely so automatic to you that you don’t even think about it.  ASD individuals often have favorite topics to discuss and most people are willing to listen for a period of time.  But when a non ASD person has had enough, he or she may start checking the time and giving nonverbal hints that they want the conversation to come to a close.  ASD individuals typically do not catch these hints.  The best option is to use clear language that closes the conversation politely.  For example say something like, “Thank you for an interesting conversation.    Now I am going to a meeting.  Bye!”

Transitions

Recall that a common characteristic of ASD individuals is their ability to focus.  Transitions are a break in that focus.  Some transitions that a non ASD individual may not think about include: switching from one project to another, especially when the first one is not finished; breaking for lunch; adapting to a new information system; gaining a new responsibility.  Transitions can cause feelings similar to those that many avid readers have after finishing a good book.  There is a letdown period where you may wonder “oh no – what now?”  Imagine having that feeling several times a day.  When the ASD individual controls the transition, things go much more smoothly.  Whenever possible, involve the ASD individual in the transition planning, especially for significant transitions.  Allow the ASD individual to control their own minor transitions, such as when to take a break.  When presenting an unexpected transition to the ASD individual, be sympathetic and allow time for the individual to process through stressful emotions caused by the unplanned transition.

Closing

Eilene tells us that not everyone with Autism Spectrum Disorder has a formal diagnosis.  There are many adults who fit the description, but they were never diagnosed as ASD.  They may have been labeled “that odd kid who likes to play alone and won’t look you in the eye” or “that kid who is always causing problems or being rude.”  Next time you encounter an employee who has some of the difficulties described here, be more open to finding good ways of interacting with him or her.  You may be surprised at the innovative ideas they can come up with, if just given the understanding and chance they need.

Autism Abilities in the Workplace

This is an article I wrote for a Diversity newsletter at work.  I mainly wrote this article because I have a 9 yr old boy with Asperger’s and he will eventually be in the workforce.  Being employed by a large corporation with many “engineering types” – it is likely that there are some with these difficulties.  My company strives to have an inclusive and diverse workforce and I am glad to help!

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Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Bi-polar, OCD, etc., etc., etc.  Each of these labels are applied to people with a wide variety of abilities and behaviors.  Many individuals with these labels are in the workforce.  In fact, companies such as SAP and Freddie Mac are heavily recruiting autistic individuals, even current college students.   This article will define Autism / Asperger’s (ASD), identify strengths applicable to the workplace, and provide information about their difficulties associated with being in the work force.

ASD Defined:

From DSM5.org ASD Fact Sheet:  “People with ASD tend to have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations, misreading nonverbal interactions, or having difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, people with ASD may be overly dependent on routines, highly sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Again, the symptoms of people with ASD will fall on a continuum, with some individuals showing mild symptoms and others having much more severe symptoms.”

Strengths

  • Exceptional memory.  This includes understanding concepts presented in material and images.
  • Detailed understanding of concrete concepts, rules and sequences.
  • Intensely focused.
  • Very precise and detail oriented, which can be combined with high levels of focus on tasks that others may not want to do.
  • Schedule driven.

Two difficult aspects of work for the ASD individual include social interactions and transitions.  Social interaction difficulties may include not understanding non verbal cues, strict adherence to rules and the expectation that others also adhere to said rules, blunt language (which is “truth” to them), and sometimes repetitive behaviors.  Transitions happen quite a bit more often than non ASD individuals realize, and each transition has the potential to cause distress in the ASD individual.

How do you know when you are boring someone you are talking with?  It is likely so automatic to you that you don’t even think about it.  ASD individuals often have favorite topics to discuss and most people are willing to listen for a period of time.  But when a non ASD person has had enough, he or she may start checking the time and giving non verbal hints that they want the conversation to come to a close.  ASD individuals typically do not catch these hints.  The best option is to use clear language that closes the conversation politely.  For example say something like, “Thank you for an interesting conversation.    Now I am going to a meeting.  Bye!”

Recall that a common characteristic of ASD individuals is their ability to focus.  Transitions are a break in that focus.  Some transitions that a non ASD individual may not think about include: switching from one project to another, especially when the first one is not finished; breaking for lunch; adapting to a new information system; gaining a new responsibility.  Transitions can cause feelings similar to those that many avid readers have after finishing a good book.  There is a let down period where you may wonder “oh no – what now?”  Imagine having that feeling several times a day.  When the ASD individual controls the transition, things go much more smoothly.  Whenever possible, involve the ASD individual in the transition planning, especially for significant transitions.  Allow the ASD individual to control their own minor transitions, such as when to take a break.  When presenting an unexpected transition to the ASD individual, be sympathetic and allow time for the individual to process through stressful emotions caused by the unplanned transition.