007 – Aspergers Autism and Salesmanship with Cody Erickson
Cody Erickson is not your typical salesman . . .or maybe he is. This is the transformational story of a young man who challenged the debilitating effects of Asperger Syndrome, and became one of the top performing salesman in a door-to-door pest control company.
THE STORY BEHIND CODY ERICKSON
“If you ask everybody in our family that watched Cody grow up they would tell you that he is a walking miracle. Growing up was very difficult for him. He was persecuted for his disability and often came home crying his eyes out daily for years.”
“Our God-sends were a few choice medical providers who helped us to keep Cody at home with the family. Without their expertise to get Cody’s mood and severe impulse control issues under control he would have had to go to a residential treatment center. The incredible thing about Cody growing up was his intelligence. He could read like nobody I have ever seen and absorb every bit of it. He could also memorize things very well and really didn’t have to study for tests. The only reason we didn’t push college was because extensive testing showed that despite his intelligence, he had other learning disabilities that would make college something that would not instill a sense of success due to the difficulty he had with busy work involved with most schooling.
When the opportunity came up for Cody to work with Justin Harwood we all had concerns if the grueling hard work of door to door sales would break him but with the skills taught to him by Justin and other salesmen, Cody learned to be the master of himself. After his first sales season ended he brought several of his coworkers to our house to meet them. At first we thought that these would be a few who just tolerated Cody, but what we found is an amazing brotherhood. These other salesmen grew to love Cody. They commented to me “Nobody gets mad at Cody no matter what he says. Look at him.” They were referring to his big smile and dimples which seemed to win people’s hearts even with his Aspie blunders. My boy gained confidence. He came back a changed person. Somebody believed in him and gave him a chance to find his talent. We could never repay Justin, nor the other influential salesmen who mentored Cody into the person he is today. As a mother, I often feel like I can’t possibly be worthy to have been given such an incredible person as my son. He teaches me daily so much about life, people, compassion, and love. He could have many reasons to not smile because life has thrown him some difficult challenges but he wakes up with a smile on his face and is usually the first to make someone laugh with his fresh conclusions about life situations.”
Cody is a different person than the guy I met two years ago. Through the mastery of sales techniques, Cody has overcome the challenges of Aspergers Syndrome and transformed his life socially. – Justin Harwood
- More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. (Buescher et al., 2014)
- Prevalence of autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4 percent from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability. (CDC, 2008)
- 35 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school. (Shattuck et al., 2012)
What Is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum. Affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors. Motor development may be delayed, leading to clumsiness or uncoordinated motor movements. Compared with those affected by other forms of ASD, however, those with Asperger syndrome do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development. Some even demonstrate precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest.
The following behaviors are often associated with Asperger syndrome. However, they are seldom all present in any one individual and vary widely in degree:
• limited or inappropriate social interactions
• “robotic” or repetitive speech
• challenges with nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expression, etc.) coupled with average to above average verbal skills
• tendency to discuss self rather than others
• inability to understand social/emotional issues or nonliteral phrases
• lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation
• obsession with specific, often unusual, topics
• one-sided conversations
• awkward movements and/or mannerisms
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