Tips for working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Author : mark01
Publish Date : 2021-06-28 05:20:57


Tips for working with Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

The world of work can be an intimidating place for anyone, but the skill sets required can provide significant challenges to those on the autism spectrum. The need to learn new skills, show endless flexibility, and interact with a wide variety of people are all components of the workplace that autistic people find difficult, but they are all manageable with the right support.

The power of a mentor

            One of the biggest factors that lead to long-term success with autistic employees is appointing or hiring someone to be their mentor at work. This person must be knowledgeable about both the job requirements as well as autism and helps the autistic employee navigate their day in the least invasive way possible. A mentor provides the following benefits compared to a line manager or supervisor:

  • Support and guidance - an autism mentor is someone who can provide personalized support to the autistic individual throughout the working day. Unlike a supervisor, who has to worry about job performance and output, a mentor can provide support about any part of their day, from how to best organize their priorities to make sure that all steps on their checklists have been completed. It also gives the autistic employee a way to bond with someone at the organization and that personal connection can help improve their long-term success and job retention.
  • Advocacy - a mentor can also help the autistic individual to advocate for changes and accommodations that need to be made as time goes by. This could be through providing support in a meeting or advocating on behalf of the individual with their line manager. In either case, the mentor will be able to synthesize their knowledge of what helps autistic people succeed in the workplace with the needs of the specific organization to find and advocate for solutions that are mutually beneficial.
  • A social resource - one of the biggest challenges facing autistic employees in the workplace is navigating the social minefield of meetings, office discussions, and water cooler chat. Many autistic adults struggle to follow social and non-verbal cues, and a mentor can be someone who can help prepare them for this. This could be by doing some proactive work ahead of a meeting to talk through what is likely to happen and what is expected of them, to helping the autistic person debrief tricky situations from the day, and making a plan for the next time.

An autism mentor could easily be someone who already works in the organization who has knowledge about autism at work or a willingness to get trained quickly. However, it can take up a lot of time out of the mentor’s day which is why many organizations that hire autistic employees choose to contract the mentoring to an autism talent management agency.

Tips for all employees

            While an autism mentor will give the autistic employee a focal point for help and support, all workers will need to make some changes to their working habits when working with autistic adults. Some of these include:

  • Respect the individual - no two people on the autism spectrum will share exactly the same set of disorders, so it will be essential for all employees to get to know their colleagues and not make assumptions based on their stereotyped knowledge of autism.
  • Stay calm - autistic workers are living their working lives on perpetual high alert and with high levels of stress. Anything that adds to this like loud shouting or other people taking their frustration out on them will only serve to push them over the edge, so care must be taken to keep the office environment calm and neutral wherever possible.
  • Give them space - the small gestures of kindness around an office like a high five or a pat on the back can actually be triggers for autistic workers who can suffer from sensory overload. A better way to make friends and show appreciation is clear and positive praise or a small gift that relates to what the autistic person has shared about their lives.

The biggest advice for all employees is to ask plenty of questions before and during the autistic individual’s employment. These could be directed to their line manager, the mentor or even to the individual themselves; in any case, this will be the best way to make sure that the autistic employee is successful in their role.

As a Neurodiversity Employment Agency, Focus provides talent on the autism spectrum who specialize in professional business roles, such as IT Tech jobs. When sourcing talent, you can be assured that when you onboard one of our candidates they have been assessed for aptitude, technical skills, and soft skills.

We specialize in placing job seekers into professional business roles, such as jobs in IT Tech.

For individuals on the autism spectrum, we encourage you to apply to become part of our talent pool.

 



Category : business

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