Our growing understanding of autism and its wide range of manifestations means employers may soon have to accommodate employees with autism. In addition, there are currently an increasing number of autistic people working in various industries. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network predict that 1 in 44 children has been diagnosed with ASD. Companies of all sizes and scopes around the country are beginning to seek out and hire persons on the autistic spectrum aggressively. Is there something these other companies know that you don't about how to best integrate workers with ASD?
1. Think in terms of capability rather than incapability
Hiring autistic people should be like hiring anybody else. Focus on employment aptitude, not disability. It's like interviewing someone with a visible impairment (e.g., blind, deaf, or wheelchair-bound). Don't assume a person with a disability can perform a job function. Instead, emphasize ability. If an applicant needs accommodation, discuss their talents and what's achievable with them. This participatory discourse is crucial to an organization's defense against disability discrimination or failure to accommodate.
People with ASD display a wide range of behaviors, many subtle enough that you may not notice. The employee must fulfill the job's essential duties. Without a reasonable accommodation, each person can do some occupations. Repetition-loving workers may appreciate some tasks. ASD patients may find boring tasks soothing. Fostering and maintaining organizational diversity helps ASD personnel. It might open your firm to the creativity and innovation of skilled people with different capabilities.
2. Keeping crucial processes in mind
How can company managers help workers on the autism spectrum? A well-defined job description can assist managers and workers in understanding the fundamental activities of a job and the requirements for those functions in the context of hiring and managing employees with disabilities. The golden rule is that you must always:
Ø Consult with HR or legal.
Ø Participate actively
Ø Evaluate case-by-case needs for accommodating disabled people.
Each job's essential duties and applicant should be assessed separately. Your web developer should fulfill deadlines for new applications and microsites. This person is usually not required to contribute vocally during staff meetings. Allowing them to email or note their thoughts may work just as well.
When assessing fundamental functions, leave your biases at the door. Someone who doesn't look you in the eye or laugh at your jokes can nevertheless be a great team player and accomplish their job.
3. Keep an open mind and offer compromises
"Reasonable accommodations" might make managers uncomfortable since they feel they must adjust their firm to an employee's demands. To accommodate an employee with ASD (or other impairment), you may already make modifications like offering standing desks for people with back problems. Autism-related changes include:
Ø Permitting noise-canceling headphones (in the case of noise sensitivity)
Ø Swapping desks and turning off a light (to help with light sensitivity)
Ø Giving them lunch at 12:15 p.m. every day (to provide needed structure)
Ø Daily priorities (to help with time management)
Ø Remote work (to accommodate the need to hyper-focus)
Ø Preparing meeting agendas (to help facilitate communication)
As with any employee requesting an accommodation, you should discuss it with the individual and your HR staff or legal counsel (and how it will impact other employees and overall productivity). Also, the employee may need to give a doctor's note explaining their needs. A reasonable accommodation isn't easy to define. What's reasonable varies for each autistic person and employer. This applies to disabled people.
4. Encourage generosity
Encourage a respectful culture to encourage diversity in your company. This necessitates that your leadership aggressively handle any employee difficulties, especially those that may foreshadow workplace bullying. People with ASD might be easy targets for bullies. Thus, extra attention may be needed to promote a welcoming and inclusive workplace.
5. Prioritize compliance
Including people with autism in the workforce doesn't have to be complicated. If you need assistance navigating the nuances of the employer-employee relationship, a professional employer organization (PEO) can be an invaluable resource, ensuring your business is compliant while fostering growth in corporate culture and staff expertise.
Looking for the best autism in Texas? If so, you came to the right place. At Autism Research Texas (ART), our non-profit organization aims to help autistic people in Texas by supporting research, spreading awareness, and providing scholarships for autistic students' diverse educational and therapeutic requirements.