This guide will provide a range of autism employment support for employers. As more employers recognise the value of diversity in the workforce, we want more organisations to consider introducing neurodiversity. This includes being confident in employing candidates who fall on the autistic spectrum.
Remember that all disabilities come with their own unique set of needs. Each person will have different requirements, so speak the person individually to see how you can support them as their employer.
What is Autism?
Most importantly, autism is a spectrum condition which means that people who fall under this label have a whole range of different needs and behaviours. It is a neurological disability that affects brain function and means that autistic people can face various social, communication and behavioural challenges.
Autism is something that you are born with, and you have for your whole life. At Careers with Disabilities, we encourage people to view autism more in the context of neurodiversity than something which people suffer from. Autism affects different people in different ways. Many autistic people lead independent lives with friends, social life and employment. Due to how it can affect a person’s communication and behaviour, some autistic people need additional care and support to function successfully.
Some of the challenges which some autistic people face include:
– Struggling to communicate and interact with others
– Finding loud noises and bright lights overwhelming
– Finding unfamiliar situations or events stressful
– Needing a tight structure and routine
– Finding it hard to empathise with other’s feelings
– Taking longer to understand information
These are just some of the ways which autism can manifest, and not everybody experiences these difficulties.
Why Hire an Autistic Person?
Like everyone else, autistic people have a whole range of strengths and skills to bring to any job. Some reasons why we actively encourage employers to hire neurodiverse candidates include:
- Accessing a wide range of candidates who society often ignores and forgets
- Bringing diverse brain function into your office can help to bring new perspectives to a project and can help you engage in your work in new ways
- Connect with a broader range of customers and clients
- Improve the equality, diversity and inclusion of your workplace
- Autism can sometimes extenuate positive qualities such as precision, attention to detail, memory and focus. As well as technical skills such as using technology and mathematics.
How Can You Support an Autistic Employee at Work?
If you a member of your staff is autistic, or you are hiring somebody who is, it’s essential that you offer them the support they may need. Here are some tips on autism employment support:
- An autistic person may find it difficult to thrive and show their personality in a typical interview structure. They often rely on social and communication skills. Consider offering alternative application and interview formats to help autistic candidates show what they can offer. To find more help on this, visit our recent guide here.
- Get support from Access to Work. This can help candidates to pay for any additional requirements they have due to their disability or health condition.
- Be clear about their responsibilities and your expectations of them in the role. Lots of autistic people find having clear structures instrumental when trying to manage a new environment. You may also want to consider writing down their responsibilities and tasks in a clear and precise way.
- Encourage them to develop a work routine; this can help to reduce the feeling of stress and being overwhelmed. This may consist of having a regular weekly meeting at the same time each week or deciding a schedule of when they will complete different tasks.
- Make sure to reassure the employee and show them that you are happy with the work they are producing. If you do have any constructive feedback, make sure to deliver it directly and straightforwardly, as autistic people can sometimes find it challenging to pick up on allusions or indirect comments.
For more help supporting disabled people at work, head over to our Disability Advice Hub, where we provide information and guidance for over twenty different disabilities.