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Autism Acceptance in the Workplace
Autism Acceptance in the Workplace

No two workplaces look alike. Individuals on the spectrum have a unique set of personality traits that can help them succeed in certain employment opportunities.

The way employers are starting to look at candidates with autism is changing. Whereas before it was highly unlikely that employers would look past an autism diagnosis to hire, now some employers are even going out of their way to find employees on the spectrum.

If you’ve ever worried about your child’s employment prospects in the future, you’re not alone.
Some studies estimate that as many as 40% of adults with autism are unemployed despite the fact that many of their IQs are higher than average. Fortunately, this is changing.

Adults on the Spectrum Have Marketable Personality Traits

One of the biggest reasons employers are starting to change their tune about autism is the fact that many individuals on the spectrum display personality traits that can be extremely useful for critical job functions. For example, adults on the spectrum can be:

  • Extremely attentive to details.
  • Organized to a fault.
  • Excellent at meeting deadlines.
  • Good with numbers and data.

If you trace these characteristics to their roots, you’d find that many of the reasons adults on the spectrum display them are the same reasons people tend to negatively describe their behavior as “compulsive” or “repetitive.”

Though they may face a challenge in communication or social skills, adults on the spectrum are not always inhibited from performing their essential job functions. In fact, with the advancements in technology and the evolution of office environments in general, those barriers are disappearing.

Employers are Looking to Tap into Potential

Employers are noticing the potential in candidates with autism and are starting to tap in. One such employer is tech-giant, Microsoft. In an interview with CBS news, Microsoft’s chief accessibility officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie said, “There really is, and was, a lot of data on the table that said to us that we were missing out. We were missing out on an opportunity to bring talent in with autism.” She also added “People with disabilities are a strength and a force of nature in this company, myself included.” Jenny is deaf and communicates with the help of an interpreter.

Microsoft even launched a separate vetting process for candidates with autism, opting for less of a reliance on social skills and instead focusing on more thorough, practical exercises.

Microsoft isn’t the only company. According to a recent feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Walgreens, Capital One, AMC Theaters, and Procter & Gamble are all starting to actively recruit people who have autism spectrum disorder.

Ultimately, it seems that as these larger companies begin to shift toward these autism-friendly initiatives, smaller companies are virtually guaranteed to follow suit.

Companies are creating Autism-Friendly Work Environments

According to a recent feature in Forbes magazine, the optimal autism-friendly workplace has five distinguishing characteristics. Companies that are autism-friendly must have:

  • A range of jobs: to fit the individuality of every employee.
  • Buy-in and training at all levels: so that all levels of management are trained support their workers.
  • Job coaching and retention: to ensure healthy employee development.
  • Patience and flexibility: to create an inclusive environment.
  • Focus on the positives: to draw on the employee’s strengths.

These characteristics breed an inclusive work environment that is meant to build on its employees strengths while supporting them through any challenges that arise.

Ultimately, no two workplaces look alike. Some will be better equipped to support employees on the spectrum than others. However, it seems that the trend of offices everywhere are bending beyond awareness and on to acceptance. To us, that means that adults with autism will continue seeing employment opportunities that many never thought they would have. For more autism and ABA related news, don’t forget to keep up with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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January 7, 2018

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