Thursday, September 13, 2012

Target, Facebook, Autism, and how a feel-good story can turn negative, thanks to social media

Now this is an interesting post.

It demonstrates how social media can take a feelgood story - with all the right intentions - and mangle it, change its message, and give others the opportunity to cloud it with their judgement.

The positive thing to gain from this story is that it has brought to light that people with autism spectrum disorder are indeed active members in the community: they work, they contribute, they interact. Some have obvious quirks, some don't. [Or perhaps they are just better at concealing them].

Here is the recent post on the [US] Target Facebook page, by a father Jim Walter, who has a daughter diagnosed with autism:

Here are some of the comments:

Kenneth Snyder 

Yes, there are a lot of negative issues with Corporate America these days and Target is on the long list of companies that are not perfect. But must we become so posessed by cynicism that we have to mock the idea that a large corporation can do something right? There is no such thing as all good, but there's also no such thing as all bad. Yes, Target should hire the disabled because it is the right thing to do. But have you seen the real world lately? How many corporations do the right thing at all? If you have a negative opinion about Target, I'm not asking you to change it. All I am suggesting is that you wipe away the cynicism and negativity which is extremely toxic to the soul and at least open yourself to considering that Target is company you don't like but can still sometimes do the right thing.

Teresa Loffer I have a child on the spectrum and I too can pick out others as well, but there have been some who have surprisd me that I did NOT know were. The thing is, good for target. But let me say this. As a manager I had to repeatedly turn down a young man I suspected on the spectrum who was trying very hard to work for me. I had good reasons. I tried to tell him where I thought he SHOULD go to work. The people who I hire must be able to handle pressure, must be able to be SOCIALLY ATTUNED, and they have to work with NO SUPERVISION. As much as I'd have loved to have given the young man a job, I could not, in good faith, set him up for failure nor put my other clients in danger. It isn't a discrimination thing. It was heartbreaking to me to have to be that person to say no. But at the same time we have to also help our auties find the right jobs for them.

Darlene Smiley Hewitt I have a child with autism, and this story made me smile, and have hope! Companies SHOULD hire people with autism, they have many talents and could make very good employees, just might need a little extra help.

Lucien-Joseph Galloy That has to be the most pointless and irrelevant story ever posted here.

Darcie Merchant ‎@Lucien, I would much rather read an uplifting story about gratuity and love towards an individual with autism than about mass genocide in Africa. Besides, the "most pointless and irrelevant story ever posted" couldn't possibly be this. I mean, please, all the "sideboob celeb shots" have GOT to be in the Top Three.

Why do some people always take an incident that's supposed to be a positive tribute and turn it into something so negative?

Jamie Rose Hey I know I don't know you but. I work at old navy an we have an autistic girl that works for us. I was FURIOUS one day when a customer told me my associate was "annoying" her on the sales floor. My associate was doing all the same things I would do! I was so angry! Remember there are NO limitations just because of autism! Thanks for sharing your story

Darcie Kocan So he is a doctor than; therefore, he can diagnose someone because he has spent ten minutes with them in their line. Ok.

CrazyDave Fournier Darcie Kocan, way to be positive, him and myself must be doctors, cause I just diagnosed you with a case of the "way to be a bitc*" and sorry it looks terminal!!!!!

Nancy Harp Smith My son is also on the autism spectrum and is working at Best Buy. YAY for these companies who give handicapped individuals a chance, and YAY for the handicapped individuals who bravely face their fears and tackle the unknown to go to work each day.

You can read all the comments here:

And you can read the original Huffington Post story here:


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