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散文:自闭者:尚未开发的人才

2015-01-05    来源:财富中文网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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散文:自闭者:尚未开发的人才

散文:

A burgeoning civil rights movement is poised to change the workplace, and it revolves around differences in brain function. Advocates for neurodiversity say that it’s just as critical to business success as gender or racial diversity in the labor force.

A growing number of companies actively recruit candidates on the autism spectrum for tasks that are suited to their strengths, such as those involving large amounts of data or rigorous attention to detail. They include SAP, Freddie Mac, ULTRA Testing, as well as specialized recruiting and placement firms for people with neurological differences.

Given that an estimated 70% of disabilities aren’t obvious to the casual observer, it’s a certainty that even more organizations already employ people with a brain difference, whether it’s autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette’s syndrome, disfluency, or a mood disorder. Many companies have employee resource groups and networks to support workers with their own or a family member’s neurological difference.

“We see differences in physical, cognitive, and mental health as differences in the human condition,” says Lori Golden, abilities strategy leader for EY. “The most relevant challenge for business is to bring in the very best talent for the work we do and create an environment that can unleash the full abilities of every person.”

Individuals with a neurological disability often possess a strength associated with their condition, in the same way a blind person may enjoy a keen sense of smell, hearing, or taste. For instance, people with ADHD tend to be innovative, curious, and active. “There are a huge number of jobs that are open to people who are super creative, energetic, and information seeking,” notes Karin Wulf, a William & Mary history professor who spearheaded the college’s neurodiversity working group.

About 2% of the population has an atypical neurological structure, the same percentage within the U.S. as the Jewish population, a group that no recruiter would consider discounting in a talent search, points outs John Elder Robison, author and neurodiversity scholar-in-residence at The College of William & Mary.

“Neurodiversity, from the standpoint of a human resources department, is poised to be the next civil rights frontier that will have to be dealt with,” says Robison, who realized he was on the autism spectrum as an adult. “One in 50 is not small.”

This revolution poses challenges for both neuro-atypical individuals and employers. Workers must learn to understand and manage their own brain differences and how and when to disclose it to colleagues and supervisors. Companies must create inclusive cultures that encourage openness about how each person works best, not to mention screening and recruiting the best talent without being blinded by neurological conditions that aren’t relevant to a job’s requirements.

“In the autistic community you have a significant number of people, often with substantial technical skills or education, who are systemically undervalued by the job market as a result of not interviewing well or not making eye contact,” says Ari Ne’eman, president and co-founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and the first openly autistic presidential appointee.

In partnership with ASAN, Freddie Mac established a paid internship program that places candidates with autism in three areas: information technology, enterprise risk management, and the single-family mortgage business.

“This is an untapped reservoir of talent that we have discovered,” says Megan Pirochukoas, a senior diversity specialist at Freddie Mac, who warns that other employers ignore autistic candidates at their peril. “You’re overlooking someone who is highly analytical, very focused, and very task-oriented, who likes to be in that space.”

Adults with autism tend to be underemployed because they often face challenges with social interaction. So Freddie Mac coached hiring managers to dig deeper if they received a resume with a spotty work record and to be open to adapting the screening process so autistic candidates could shine, such as giving interview questions in advance. Managers and employees who would be working with interns also received neurodiversity training ahead of time and participated in a buddy system to pair interns with neurotypical employees in their group. The housing finance company brought in ASAN about halfway through the 16-week internship for a pulse check, so interns would have a safe place to address concerns or problems they might be experiencing.

Now in the fourth year of the internship program, Freddie Mac has hired several interns as permanent full-time employees. Managers have discovered that some of the tools they developed for working with autistic adults—such as being extremely clear with instructions and asking how people prefer to communicate—are actually useful practices for all employees. Some Freddie Mac employees even came to realize that they themselves might be on the autism spectrum.

Outside of an internship program aimed at a neurodiverse population, it’s tricky for an employer to hire inclusively. For one, it’s illegal to ask a candidate whether he has a disability. So instead, employers must be sensitive and responsive to differences that may relate to a neurological condition.

“It’s very hard for us when somebody hasn’t disclosed [their condition], so our recruiters have to be thinking about it but they can’t be assuming,” says Barbara Wankoff, director of workplace solutions at KPMG.


For individuals with a brain difference, neurodiversity at work can seem even more fraught. It’s important to focus on what skills and value you can bring to a workplace, not on the accommodations you may need for your disability, says Scott Sonnon, a Bellingham, Wash.-based author and tactical fitness instructor for the federal government who was institutionalized as a child and deemed unteachable.

“If I view my dyslexia and dyspraxia as a disability that must be endured, I put myself in the worst position neurologically,” says Sonnon, who finds that the more conscious he is of having trouble with word access, the longer the pauses in his speech. “It’s so therapeutic and healthy to be able to laugh at the tradeoffs and embrace the fact that you have advantages.”

When he gives a speech or lecture, Sonnon says he trades off every 15 to 30 minutes with an assistant, “usually someone who has a rapid intensity and more rapidly firing brain organization like ADHD,” he explains. “It’s great for the audience. They get the rapid infusion of many topics at once. Then they come back to the slow, big boom.”

Jean Winegardner, 41, loved her work as a copy editor and excelled at the job, but struggled to fit into the workplace in the years after graduate school, before she was diagnosed with autism. “The social aspects always got to me after a time and I would find a reason why I needed to quit,” Winegardner writes in an email interview. “I think that if I had understood my neurological makeup earlier, I could have found ways to help myself cope with the way workplaces work and how I could fit into them.”

Autistic employees can be more focused, waste little time socializing, and persevere until they complete their tasks, she notes. “I think it is wonderful that some companies are actively seeking out autistic people because of their strengths. I only hope that this acceptance and understanding spreads,” writes Winegardner, who now works as ASAN’s office manager and writes a blog called Stimeyland.

Everyone interviewed for this article agreed that disclosing an invisible disability like autism or ADHD is a challenging personal decision.

“Every person has to decide, is the risk of severe social isolation greater than the possible greater social acceptance?” says Robison. “This is much like coming out and saying you’re gay in a straight workplace or you’re Jewish in a Christian workplace. Some people will say, ‘I can’t relate to that.’ It may drive you apart from your coworkers and it may bring you together.”

First, consider whether you can manage your condition—or find a workaround— without naming it. For instance, EY’s Golden says she helped a colleague on the autism spectrum develop scripts to give colleagues and clients a heads up that he lacked some social graces. He told them he had a habit of sometimes saying the wrong thing and asked them to do him the favor of pointing it out, if it happened.

“That way, he accomplished several things: he took away the surprise factor, he made himself vulnerable and therefore more likable and approachable, and he invited people to be part of the solution,” Golden recalls. “An individual with any kind of disability needs to—above all—know him or herself, what his strengths and weaknesses are, and be able to make … decisions on that basis.”

Similarly, San Francisco lawyer Louise, 40, manages her bipolar disorder with humor and discretion. If her medication causes her to stutter or have trouble accessing a word, she says she’ll make light of it, saying, “I really can’t talk today!”

She manages her trial schedule in keeping with her mood cycles, using the manic energy for her benefit in the run up to a hearing or trial, and then telecommuting when she inevitably crashes afterwards. “Being medicated and watching myself as I do, I use periods of high intensity and high energy to get a lot done, knowing there’s always going to be a period that I don’t have any energy and I have to work from home,” she says. “Sometimes it’s very useful for me to be manic when I’m a litigator, so long as it doesn’t tip into the panic range. I have a lot of energy; my brain moves very quickly.”

Out of fear of losing her license to practice law, she keeps her condition a secret at work, and asked that her full name not be used in this article.

Educator Beth Baker, 62, says she must constantly remind herself to listen 60% of the time and speak 40% of the time, to compensate for her self-diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. “All of us develop strategies and tactics for making it through the day and dealing with life, and dealing with the rough edges and approximations,” says Baker, a coach and facilitator based in Richland Center, Wis., and director of the International Trauma Abatement Project.

If your invisible disability may affect your work performance, you should consider disclosing it at least to human resources, where it will stay confidential. For instance, if you have epilepsy, your employer would benefit from being prepared in case you have a seizure. The discussion with human resources should revolve around the tools, equipment, and environment you need to do your best work, not about the disability itself, Golden notes.

Neurotypical employees can learn from and benefit from the advances made by neurodiversity advocates. An increased awareness of differences in people’s brain function and communication preferences could improve the work that everyone does.

“Can you imagine if you went into a workplace and everyone had a sense of their abilities and their mode of interaction?” William & Mary’s Wulf says. “We’re right at the beginning of the wave. It hasn’t crested.”

burgeon: v.迅速发展; 发芽,抽枝 

autism: n.孤独症,自我中心主义

rigorous: adj.严密的; 缜密的;

cognitive: adj.认知的; 认识的

unleash: vt.解开…的皮带; 放纵; 解除…的束缚;

innovative: adj.革新的; 创新的; 富有革新精神的; 创新立异

spearhead: vt.当…的先锋; 带头

atypical: adj.非典型的

standpoint: n.立场,观点

autistic: adj.患孤独症的; 患自闭症的

stutter: vt.& vi.结结巴巴地说; 不顺畅的工作,

litigator: n.诉讼律师

seizure:n.没收; 夺取; 捕捉; 突然发作

(财富中文网)


一场围绕着大脑功能差异的民权运动正在美国迅速兴起,或将改变职场现状。倡导重视神经系统多样性的人群提出,神经多样性与劳动力的性别及种族多元化一样,也是企业走向成功的决定性因素。

越来越多的企业主动聘用患有自闭症的应聘者,并安排他们从事所擅长的工作,比如那些需要处理大量数据或极其注重细节的岗位。这类企业包括SAP公司、房地美、ULTRA Testing以及那些专门雇佣与安置神经系统疾病患者的企业。

由于70%的残障人士症状并不明显,普通人无法察觉,所以可以肯定的是,还有更多的企业也聘用了那些脑部异常的劳动者,如自闭症、注意缺陷多动症、阅读障碍、运动障碍、多发性抽动症、口吃或情绪失调患者。许多企业还成立了各种员工资源小组和联系网络,为这类员工及其家人提供相关的帮助。

“我们把生理、认知以及心理健康方面的差异看作是人与人之间必然存在的差异。”安永人力策略主管洛利•戈尔登介绍说,“对于企业来说,最大的挑战是选聘最恰当的人才,并且创造一个能让每个人充分发挥能力的工作环境。”

神经疾病患者往往由于存在这种差异而具备某种能力,这和盲人可能拥有敏锐的嗅觉、听觉或味觉的情况类似。例如,多动症患者富有创造力,充满好奇心并且十分活跃。“对于那些特别有创意、精力充沛并热衷于吸收信息的人来说,有无数份工作可以供他们选择,”威廉玛丽学院历史学教授卡林•伍尔夫指出。伍尔夫是该院神经系统多样性工作小组的带头人。

作家兼威廉玛丽学院神经系统多样性常驻研究学者约翰•埃尔德•罗宾逊指出,全世界约有2%的人拥有异常的神经系统结构,这个比例和犹太人在美国人口当中的比例相同。而在选聘人才时,没有雇主敢忽视犹太人群体。

“从人力资源部门的角度来看,神经系统多样性必将成为下一个争取公民权利的前沿阵地,”罗宾逊预测,他在成年之后发现自己是一名自闭症患者。“五十分之一这个比例可不算小。”他说。

这场革命给神经性障碍患者和雇主都带来了挑战。作为员工,人们必须学会理解和掌控自己大脑的多样性,在同事与主管面前掌握好公开这一差异的时机和方式;作为企业则必须创造包容性的企业文化,鼓励开放的心态,让每位员工充分施展才华。而且,在筛选和招聘时,不会因为与工作需要无关的神经系统障碍而漏掉优秀人才。

“在自闭症患者中,有相当一部分人掌握了重要的专业技能或者受过良好的教育,但是这些人总是因为面试表现不佳或拒绝眼神接触,而被劳务市场低估,”阿里•尼尔曼说道,他是美国自闭症自我宣传网络的总裁兼共同发起人,他还是美国历史上第一位获得总统任命、公开承认患有自闭症的人士。

房地美公司与自闭症自我宣传网络合作,发起了一项带薪实习计划,目的是为患有自闭症的应聘者提供三大领域的工作,包括信息技术、企业风险管理以及独栋住宅房贷业务。

房地美资深多样性专家梅根•皮罗楚卡奥斯介绍说,“我们发现这是一个尚未开发的人才宝库,”他提醒说,忽视自闭症应聘者是有风险的。“因为你忽视的可能是分析能力出众、专注力极强、能够高效完成任务的人才,他们很喜欢这种工作状态。”

成年自闭症患者就业很困难,原因是他们往往在社交方面存在障碍。如果收到的简历中的工作经历部分看起来有些问题,房地美公司要求人事经理深入挖掘,甚至允许通过提前通知面试问题等方法改变招聘程序,以便发掘自闭症应聘者的闪光点。有机会与患有自闭症的实习生共事的经理与员工会提前接受神经系统多样性方面的培训,并参加公司的伙伴系统。在这个系统中,组内的实习生与一般员工结成工作伙伴。在历时16周的实习计划进行到一半时,房地美会让ASAN参与摸查,以便实习生有机会能放心说出自己遇到的困扰和问题。

现在是实习计划进行的第四年,房地美已经雇佣了多名这个计划的实习生作为长期全职雇员。经理们发现,他们为成人自闭症患者开发的工具,例如极为清晰的指南,以及询问人们更倾向于何种交流方式的做法,实际上对所有雇员来说都很有用。有些房地美的雇员甚至意识到,他们自己也可能患有自闭症谱系障碍。

而在专门针对神经系统多样性人群的实习计划之外,雇主的招聘都需要非常小心。举例来说,询问一个求职者是否有神经障碍是违法的。所以,雇主们必须十分敏感,能够觉察与神经系统相关的行为差异。

“如果求职者不主动透露[他们的情况],我们很难发现。所以,我们的招聘人员必须思考这一问题,但是不能提前下结论,”毕马威会计师事务所(KPMG)的工作场所解决方案总监巴巴拉•万科夫介绍。

而对于存在大脑差异的个人来说,神经多样性似乎在职场中为他们带来了更大的困扰。斯科特•索内是一位华盛顿州贝灵翰姆的作家,也是联邦政府的技巧性健身教练,但是他在孩提时曾有过被收容的经历,而且一度被视为没有学习能力。他指出,工作时必须专注于自己所擅长的技能和能够为工作机构带来的价值,而不是对自己的缺陷耿耿于怀、百般迎合,这一点十分重要。

“如果将自己的阅读障碍和运动障碍视作必须忍受的残疾,就会让自己的精神状况处于最糟糕的境地,”索内指出。他发现,越是意识到自己难以启齿,演讲的停顿时间就越长。“对这一问题一笑了之,并承认你所拥有的优势,这是一种很好的治疗和健康的心态。”

 索内表示,当发表演说或演讲时,他每15到30分钟需要与一名助理交换。“通常他们能够快速迅速大量信息量,而且和ADHD患者一样,拥有能更快运转的脑组织,”他解释说,“这对观众来说是个好事,因为可以一下子获得包含很多个主题的内容。然后,他们又回到一个缓慢的状态,等待爆发。”

现年41岁的珍•瓦恩加德纳非常热爱她的文字编辑工作,而且做得非常出色。不过,在毕业后的那些年,她一直很难融入工作环境,后来被诊断为自闭症。“工作一段时间后,我总是遇到社会交往方面的困扰。然后我就会找一个理由辞职。”瓦恩加德纳在一封电子邮件采访中写道,“我想,如果我早点理解了我的神经构造,就可以帮助自己找到应对职场工作以及适应环境的方法。”

她提到,患有自闭症的员工精力更为集中,在社交方面浪费的时间也不多,而且能够持之以恒直到任务的完成。“我认为,一些公司看重这一优势并且积极寻求这类人才的做法值得肯定。我唯一的愿望就是社会对这类人群的接纳和理解能够继续下去,”瓦恩加德纳在博客中这样写道。目前,瓦恩加德纳担任ASAN的办公室经理,并且开了一个名为Stimeyland的博客。

所有受访者一致认为,公开自己的自闭症或ADHD等隐性残疾是一个很艰难的个人决定。

“每个人都要盘算一下,被社会严重孤立的风险是否会高于受到宽容接纳的可能性。”罗宾逊说,“这就相当于在一个满是异性恋的办公室里站出来说自己是同性恋,或是在一个全部信奉基督教的工作场所里承认自己是犹太人。有人会说,‘我要隐瞒这个问题。’这可能会让你与同事渐行渐远,也可能让你们更加融洽团结。”

首先你要考虑是否能够控制自己的病情,或是找到一个变通方法,这样就无需提到病情。譬如,安永的戈尔登曾帮助一位自闭症谱系障碍的同事设计了一份台词,以提醒其他同事和客户,他的行为可能欠缺一些社交礼节。他会告诉其他人,他有时会说错话,并且希望他们在他说错话的时候能帮他指出来。

“这样一来,他一下解决了几件事:消除了意外因素,表现脆弱变得更加招人喜欢且平易近人,而且他还邀请其他人一起参与建立解决方案。”戈尔登回忆道,“无论你有何种缺陷,最重要的是要了解自己,了解自己的优势和劣势,并能够在此基础上作出决定。”

类似的情况还有来自旧金山的40岁律师路易斯,她用幽默感和判断力来控制自己的躁郁症。如果药物导致她说话出现结巴或是说话困难,她只会轻描淡写地说一句:“我今天真的不能讲话!”

她将开庭安排与情绪周期保持一致,狂躁的情绪有助于她出庭辩护,而在情绪不可避免地崩溃之后,她又可以选择远程办公。她说,“我会在服用完药物后观察自己的表现,然后将精力最集中最充沛的时期拿来完成大量工作,然后在没有任何能量的时候在家办公。有时候,这对我来说非常有用,作为律师我可以表现狂热,只要情绪不会陷入恐慌的程度就好。而且我还能获得充沛的能量,大脑可以飞速地运转。”

出于对失去律师从业执照的担忧,她在工作时都会将病情隐瞒,在接受本文采访时也要求不使用她的全名。

62岁的教育家贝斯•贝克则表示,她必须不断提醒自己,要用60%的时间倾听,40%的时间说话,这样才能控制她自我诊断出来的阿斯伯格症——一种自闭症谱系障碍症候群。她说,“患有这种病的人都在想尽办法、用尽策略熬过每一天,在边缘和极限状态挣扎。”贝克目前是威斯康星州里奇兰中心的一名教练和辅导师,她还是国际创伤消除项目的负责人。

如果你的隐性残疾影响到了工作表现,你至少应该考虑通知人力资源部,他们会替你保守秘密。比如,如果你患有癫痫症,一旦癫痫发作,你的雇主能够及早准备加以应对。戈尔登指出,在与人力资源部交谈时,应当以你需要何种工具、设备以及环境来实现最佳的工作状态作为主题,而不应重点讨论你的疾病。

健康的员工可以从神经多样性倡导者所取得的进展中学习并受益。人们对大脑功能和沟通偏好差异认识的提高有助于改进所有人的工作表现。

“你能够想象得出,当你走进某个工作场所,大家都对自己的能力和沟通模式了然于心吗?”威廉玛丽学院的伍尔夫说道,“我们正处于这样一种浪潮的开端,未来还有发展空间。”



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