Many capable employees are missed because they have autism.
People with autism have very valuable skills which can be applied in the workplace. Everyone has different skills and there will always be something.
So why is this happening? This article, and many others, cite poorly understanding autism and businesses being ill-informed about how to accommodate affected workers.
There is a fantastic video everyone should watch on the interview experience of autistic individuals.
Fortunately, recent research has provided us with many strategies to make workplaces more inclusive. Here are three:
1. REDUCE WORKPLACE STIMULI
There are many ways to reduce unnecessary stimuli at work. Consider fabric used in unforms and make sure that work place wardrobe flexibility is available. Work spaces that physically block out office noise and provide noise-cancelling headphones, although some people will not be able to tolerate the sensation. Whenever possible, LEDs should replace noisy and intense fluorescent lights. Minimise interruptions, schedule chats instead of “popping in", encourage the use of email instead of phone calls.
2. CREATE A CULTURE OF CLEAR COMMUNICATION
The communication and the social difficulties experienced by people with autism are heavily intertwined. Resolving communication issues will also help with social difficulties. Here are a few examples, more in the article itself: make unspoken norms explicit; provide detailed instructions in writing; avoid ambiguity in task assignments; explain how to prioritise work.
3. OFFER SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COACHING
Even with the supports already outlined, workers with autism may find the social and emotional behaviors of others mystifying. A coach can be helpful. A mentor could be a trained coworker or an outside expert. Coworkers may also benefit from receiving information to increase understanding.
People with autism are unemployed at disproportionate levels. As a result, companies are missing out on employees able to make valuable contributions. And society at large is affected, since the situation creates inequities and financial dependence.