Self-Healing, Growth, and Advocacy in the Pandemic: Psychologists Share

Yesterday, we hosted a wonderful webinar with The Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (APA Division 44), where a panel of psychologists and trainees across career phases discussed their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis. Our focus is on the experiences of gender and sexually diverse psychologists, as well as on service to LGBTQIA+ patients, but I hope this is useful to practitioners and servants from many different backgrounds. I had the privilege to moderate a panel of my distinguished colleagues. They shared how they are caring for themselves – from taking joy in their families to reinvigorating their mindfulness practices. They shared growth in their understanding of themselves and their role within their communities. Frustrations, they had too, and they shared limits in being able to care for patients, from barriers to providing telemedicine to rural and poverty-affected patients caught up in struggling with the unintended consequences of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. We discussed feelings of being sidelined as behavioral health providers and teachers, in this crisis, recognizing advocacy opportunities this situation brings, and, together with our attendees and fellow Division members, we talked about how we can do more. Check it out!

Oh! Two more things. Besides making sure the community has access to and can process empirical science, and helping individuals and communities manage the major life changes and behavioral interventions COVID-19 has required, psychologists have been working together with our many siblings-in-arms to recognize, address, and minimize disparities in access to care and in who gets an opportunity to thrive during this challenging time. The hashtag is #EquityFlattensTheCurve, and you can follow this link to find out more.

And, finally, to everyone out there: whether you are on the front-lines of face-to-face crisis healthcare delivery, whether you have been able to implement telemedicine to continue to support others, whether you are doing some other kind of essential work, from home or from your regular place of work, or whether you are just helping your community by practicing social distancing and sheltering at home, or by everyday acts of love and kindness for your family and neighbors. You are loved. You are valued. No one may ever truly understand the sacrifices you are making, but you are heroes to us.

Do Social Networks Drive Autism Underemployment?

This is an historical post from an earlier blog, Adopted Son of the Autism Family, which I had before this current blog. It is re-posted without modification (other than this introductory sentence).

This is a quick thought of the day, with apologies for good, solid blog posts being lacking from me over the past few weeks. Then again, it’s too much for me to squeeze into a tweet, and my mother thinks my blog posts are too long, so perhaps this will appeal to her!

Take a look at this NYT Blog.

NYT Opinionator blog post from today

NYT Opinionator blog post from today

They advance a very interesting idea that social networks function to extend and strengthen the secret connections that keep the wealthy (and dominant racial/ethnic/cultural groups) enfranchised. They do it by enhancing the ability of “who you know” to overpower “what you know” in being the person picked for the desirable job that becomes a great career or a stepping stone. It makes a lot of sense, since social networks allow easy access across strata of society to people, as long as they have the right connections (for instance, I routinely tweet with people who have 1/10 or 1/100th as many followers as me, or 10x or 100x as many followers as me, and we have a two-way interchange, although primarily because we are connected by the Autism Family). Without the right connections, however, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, are just as closed a door as any that existed before social networking.

We already know that people with autism are unemployed and underemployed compared to other people at their cognitive levels. This spans across the Spectrum — cognitively impaired autistic people are much less likely to work than people with MR without autism. High functioning autistic people with college degrees or graduate degrees are also less likely to work than their “neurotypical” peers. I talk to parents all the time about the fact that much of this has to do with people with autism struggling to read the unwritten messages and follow the unwritten rules in job searches. They rock out in their classes and get high grades, but they don’t talk to their professor or their peers about their interests. They don’t engage their departments to parlay their interests and academic success into internships, volunteering opportunities, and entry level jobs. This is all about unwritten rules and networking. Are we overlooking one of the most powerful tools thus far in the 21st century, in the form of these social networking sites, and what they may be able to do for autistic people?

We know (look at my timeline on Twitter, or check out the #AutismFlashFollow or #autismbullying hashtags!) that we have people with autism thriving on social media, as well as some who engage in it but are not engaged back. Maybe we need to think more constructively about helping people with autism develop social links on social media that are likely to generate jobs (because they may not automatically engage in using social media this way). Maybe the broader autism family needs to help build those links between people with autism on social media and the decision makers and other people who hold the keys to these invisible doors. What do you think? And if you’re an autistic person, have you used social media to land a job? Would you?