1. Basic Social Skills
This session will take you through the fundamentals of non-autistic communication. This is to help put you on more of a level playing field when it comes to effectively interacting in the workplace. It also provides you with an understanding of why non-autistic people act in the way they do when it comes to social interaction – reducing your frustration and improving your tolerance and acceptance of non-autistic quirks. For example, we explain that the question ‘how are you?’ is often just code for hello. The strange rituals non-autistic people have around social interaction actually have an important purpose and knowing about this this is likely to benefit you. We also consider autistic ways of doing social interaction.
2. Different Ways of Thinking
If you are autistic or neurodivergent then it is likely that have an extreme way of thinking in comparison to your managers or co-workers. In this session, we teach you about each different way of thinking found in the general population. We help you identify your own ways of thinking. The purpose of doing this is so that you can identify how different people around you think, therefore how best to adapt your thinking and communication style to them to achieve better communication with others. This is an extremely enlightening session and it may help you understand why certain social interactions may have gone wrong for you in the past and how to prevent it happening in the future. Being better able to communicate with your managers, co-workers or subordinates is key in being successful at work.
3. Executive Functioning
Executive functioning is a technical term for the higher control functions of the brain. It includes things like planning, problem-solving skills, organisation, inhibition of behaviour and working memory. You might have quite extreme strengths and weaknesses in certain areas, which can impact on your daily functioning at work and home. We work with you to identify your ‘profile’ of executive functioning. We then teach you about relevant aids or techniques to improve any areas of weakness, and also how to use your strengths to mitigate against any weaknesses. This should enable you to feel less stressed, more in control and even help you become more productive.
4. Sensory Issues
This is a fascinating session as we help you get to the bottom of your sensory issues. You may learn about sensory issues that you didn’t realise you had, and how they interact with each other. Your senses may work extremely differently to your co-workers, but how are you supposed to know unless somebody points them out to you? There are more than 5 senses and we assist you in working out how your senses play a part in how you experience the world. This enables you to choose the right sensory working environment and if this is not possible, we advise you on coping mechanisms you could put in place. This will improve your wellbeing and increase your productivity. Just as your senses may be extreme compared to the general population, your ‘perceptual styles’ may be too. In addition, we help you work out how you best learn information (i.e. auditory, visual) to enable you to find a better way of fulfilling your learning needs at work.
5. Overcoming barriers to social interaction part 1
As an autistic person in the workplace, it is likely that you experience unfair barriers to engaging in ‘non-autistic’ social interaction. For example, this could be due to delays in your processing, meaning that you agree to things you later regret. It could also be due to different ways of thinking, which means that the usual topics of social chit chat before meetings and at work social activities can drive you up the wall. You may have a form of anxiety which means that revealing anything personal about yourself if highly uncomfortable. These are common issues and we teach you how best to overcome these barriers to ensure you can participate when needed without becoming stressed, overloaded or unwell. You may have defects in your understanding of the social world, in which we can help correct through exploring how the rest of the world thinks. We can also help you develop your own ‘mental model’ of the world. This is better than teaching you ‘social rules’ which non-autistic people often break! This point of this session is to help you become more integrated into your workplace, which can only be good for your career.
6. Overcoming barriers to social interaction part 2
This is an extension of the Overcoming Part 1 barriers session. We teach you what emotional intelligence is and how this differs in the autistic and non-autistic population. This will improve your self-awareness which is a very useful skill in the workplace. We go through how you can build meaningful relationships in and outside of work, and how to mend things if they go wrong. You may have felt at some point that the world is not interested in you or your interests. We debunk this myth and help you view it differently so that you can move forward with relationships you might like to develop. We show you the differences between shallow relationships (i.e. expected at work) and deep relationships (i.e. expected with a close friend/partner), so that you feel safe when making decisions regarding how to act or react to different people. We go through some of the strange and not so strange ways that people (especially non-autistic people!) can be put off from pursuing or continuing a friendship or relationship with you at work or at home.
7. Social Interaction: what to do when things go wrong
Inevitably, things will go wrong socially. It is not just autistic people who get social interaction wrong, non-autistic people do too. However many autistic people tend to beat themselves up about it. If this describes you, then this session will help you understand the best way to go about mending things if you make a social faux pas or have a misunderstanding with someone. This is also a vital skill for helping you work well in a team at work, or even helping you gain a promotion. We highlight to you what types of misunderstandings can happen between autistic and non-autistic people, what the risks of ‘masking your autism’ are and how to use ‘masking’ to your advantage (rather than to the detriment of your health). We show you what unhealthy social behaviours to avoid (even if other people are doing them) and explore your motivations (or lack thereof) around ‘fitting in’ or connecting with other people. This is done to find a way which works best for you, and how you can fulfil your (social) needs at work - even if you get it wrong sometimes.
8. Introduction to management and leadership
Just because you are autistic or otherwise neurodivergent does not mean that you cannot be an exceptional manager or leader. But you need to know how. This is what we help you with in this session. This session will teach you the essentials of management leadership and the differences between management and leadership in a way which suits your individual ways of thinking about and perceiving the world and your personal learning style. This is so it is relevant to you and so you can apply it to enhance your career and/or your relationships with other people at work. You will have a varied set of strength and weaknesses like most people, but you might have some autistic traits which you can really capitalise on in your career.
9. Networking and Negotiating>
Networking an important aspect of career progression, as is negotiating. Many autistic people are highly disadvantaged when it comes to networking, whether it be the social interaction involved, or sensory issues making busy or noisy environments torturous. In this session, we teach you how you can network effectively in a way which suits your autism. This can be quite liberating and also move you forward at work.
Negotiating is a very important skill. It helps you achieve a win-win compromise whether it be the price of a product, or your job description.
Assertiveness is a very useful skill to get what you need or to prevent people from forcing you to give them what they want (eg pushy salespeople). You must be careful when using this skill that you are using it only when it is appropriate to do so.
This skill is particularly helpful when dealing with organisations who are trying to fob you off and not give you want you are entitled to. However, it is important to establish entitlement first as otherwise you will be doing nothing more than annoying people who make life even harder for you in future.