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Aeolienne

How do you solve the trickiest problems in the workplace? Employ more autistic people

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Aeolienne

How do you solve the trickiest problems in the workplace? Employ more autistic people

Neurodiversity can be a huge advantage for companies, yet people on the spectrum have often been marginalised. Now some firms are specifically seeking them out. Is this a crucial turning point?

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Nesf

Yes, there has been an increase in companies employing seeing the value of autistic people and employing them, and that is a very good thing. The only criticism I would have is that most of these jobs are in the IT sector - nat all autistics are IT experts - we are linguists, musicians, wildlife experts, engineurs, etc, and there needs to be more jobs given across the board.

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Gone away
22 minutes ago, Nesf said:

Yes, there has been an increase in companies employing seeing the value of autistic people and employing them, and that is a very good thing. The only criticism I would have is that most of these jobs are in the IT sector - nat all autistics are IT experts - we are linguists, musicians, wildlife experts, engineurs, etc, and there needs to be more jobs given across the board.

I believe its an unusually stringent and lengthy selection process with only the creme in a niche IT market selected.
Your average autistic  is not likely to succeed and generally speaking will be discriminated against for social reasons

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Sanctuary

Thanks for highlighting the article Aeolienne. Clearly there are some positive developments but overall a huge amount needs to be done. Too many employers "talk the talk" and too few "walk the walk" when it comes to employing more people on the autistic spectrum - or indeed addressing other diversity issues. Some employers are insincere and even prejudiced but will say the right things in public. Others are more genuine but still see employing more workers on the spectrum and treating them with proper consideration as a low priority. Some are much more committed but get "cold feet" when it comes to making actual employment decisions. A few are fully committed and really do make a difference. Often - as in the company highlighted in the article - their aspirations will have been shaped by personal connections to autism. In too few cases are there employers without that connection who are still prepared to take real action. Sometimes - as mentioned in the article - other workers and colleagues are part of the problem and can make life very difficult for workers on the spectrum and this can be a reason (not a justification) for employers not taking appropriate action.

I feel real improvement in employment opportunities is only likely to happen when there are targets for employing workers on the spectrum and proper enforcement when these are not met, or appropriate adjustments are not made in the workplace. All too often employers think that statements in policies or on websites that they are "autism-friendly" or words to that effect are enough. Or they may feel that offering a token interview to someone with AS shows that are autism-friendly. Real action involves actually employing people, in good conditions and on good contracts. It does have to be said though that a major issue is that so many people with AS are undiagnosed or their diagnosis is not declared (perhaps due to fear of stereotyping and discrimination) and so assessing their progress - or lack of it - in the workplace is difficult. However when employers are aware that an applicant / employee is on the spectrum they need to give them proper opportunities and consideration.

Finally I agree with Nesf that the article can help to reinforce the view that people with AS are all IT experts or adept with other technical and numerical enterprises. Clearly some of them are but there are many on the spectrum are skilled in other areas and can be very good employees in many other jobs.

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Laurie

I work in the healthcare industry. I think it's important to realize that everyone was different (even people with Aspergers) and have different strengths. But I think strengths of people with Aspergers are generally effective for every industry. In my area, I've been seeing more and more people hire people with intellectual disabilities so hopefully we're moving in the right direction with hiring neurodiverse people.

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Gone away
On 27/10/2017 at 12:17 AM, Laurie said:

I've been seeing more and more people hire people with intellectual disabilities so hopefully we're moving in the right direction with hiring neurodiverse people.

Hope so.
Just need to get round the problem of companies not liking honest observations from aspergic employees and constructing their exit from employment :huh:

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DC1346
On 10/26/2017 at 4:17 PM, Laurie said:

I work in the healthcare industry. I think it's important to realize that everyone was different (even people with Aspergers) and have different strengths. But I think strengths of people with Aspergers are generally effective for every industry. In my area, I've been seeing more and more people hire people with intellectual disabilities so hopefully we're moving in the right direction with hiring neurodiverse people.

I'm a chef instructor at a rural high school and I agree with Laurie. The spectrum is the spectrum and everyone on the spectrum has different abilities and interests. The trick to surviving in a largely NT world is to find a job that aligns with your particular interest. Since one of my interests happens to be all things culinary, I'm a culinary arts instructor. I teach three levels of classes along with one section of 8th grade. Students in my classes learn the basics of food safety and sanitation. They also learn how to cook and bake. 

At my high school, we have a special education department. Some of our more learning disabled students are not mainstreamed into regular education classes. Instead of stressing them out by mainstreaming them, they have life skill classes in which they learn manners, how to interact with others, and how to perform simple tasks. 

By way of example, my school has a recycling program that brings in about $1500 a month. The life skills class runs this program and every Thursday, teachers put items to be recycled out in the hallway in blue trash bags or large two wheeled blue bins for the students to collect. 

Although some of these kids are likely to transition into group homes, some of them (regardless of whether they're living in a group home or not) will be able to work in area businesses as dish washers or custodians. I even have some special needs students who have been mainstreamed into Culinary Arts as their only non-special ed class. Some of these students may wind up working as prep cooks or even line cooks. 

The situation is admittedly not ideal but then again, two hundred years ago special needs people were either taken care of at home or sent off to an asylum or a work house. 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

The question of employment in relation to HFA (for want of a modern term) for me is tricky. Personally I'm simply not employable - period. Over many years I was only able to hold onto one job and, in honesty, this was at a time when they couldn't get anyone else. Add to that, I was often reported by customers till eventually it came to a head. This led to increased anger and resentment I am now glad I dealt with. I mean, I came to see why normal people found me hard to deal with (unemotional, vacant and very robotic). Conclusion is simple: Businesses are totally not equipped to.begin to address autism. One thing is for them to pronounce "tolerance" but the truth is most employers are unaware. Pretty much all my autistic friends were unemployable. Both were well above average qualified but too weird to be accepted in a firm. One did manage to do odd jobs for clients in gardens although she had two academic degrees - one in geology. This may sound pessimistic on my part and a bit doom and gloom but collective employment and autism are tough to match. It can work "only" if the employer knows what's involved exactly. This is problems with verbal instructions, anxiety or anger, the fact a small percentage of co-workers may be suspicious or stand-offish. Anither issue is autists themselves simply aren't wired for team work. They perform better as individuals in roundabout ways. I wish I could say my self education and awareness could fix the employment issue but it changed little. Without genuine awareness there are zero steps forward. Neither do the public even half understand what high functioning autism is - many view it as a social stamp or others feel it is somehow fictional. We are a long way off from really getting to grips with autism and autism rights and social inclusion.

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Sanctuary
8 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

It can work "only" if the employer knows what's involved exactly. 

This is true. Many of the problems autistic people face in employment are because employers either do not know the worker has autism (sometimes the worker doesn't know it either) or they have inaccurate and even prejudiced views about it. Such views may mean that if autism is declared on an application the autistic candidate doesn't even get an interview or gets one simply for appearances' sake so the employer can boast about how "enlightened" they are in giving interviews with no real intention of offering a job. When autism isn't declared (or not known about by the person) the candidate often fails at the interview stage as they are considered not to have made a "good impression" as interviews are so much about social skills and "impression management". Even if this hurdle is passed the autistic worker can then have the sorts of problems you have outlined. Some autistic workers have good, even very successful, careers but too many have difficult experiences.

There are some supportive, very well-informed employers but problems still arise. Managers may be aware that a worker is autistic and want to support them but colleagues may not be aware or may have negative attitudes. An autistic worker may not want colleagues to know of their condition but it is hard to be successful at work without supportive co-workers. Sometimes the colleagues are supportive and it is managers who cause the problems. A final issue is that of service users or customers. A worker may have excellent, very supportive and well-informed managers and colleagues but have difficulties with those who use the service. Awareness and positive attitudes about autism can be even less common in the wider population who use a service than among the workforce. While it may be possible and helpful for someone with autism to mention this to service users in other cases it is not practical or advisable. Employers can try to work around this so autistic workers are less likely to have problems with service users but it is not easy to do. Knowledge of autism can certainly be used against individuals with autism but on the whole it offers their best chance of having good experience in employment.

 

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Dr-David-Banner
8 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

This is true. Many of the problems autistic people face in employment are because employers either do not know the worker has autism (sometimes the worker doesn't know it either) or they have inaccurate and even prejudiced views about it. Such views may mean that if autism is declared on an application the autistic candidate doesn't even get an interview or gets one simply for appearances' sake so the employer can boast about how "enlightened" they are in giving interviews with no real intention of offering a job. When autism isn't declared (or not known about by the person) the candidate often fails at the interview stage as they are considered not to have made a "good impression" as interviews are so much about social skills and "impression management". Even if this hurdle is passed the autistic worker can then have the sorts of problems you have outlined. Some autistic workers have good, even very successful, careers but too many have difficult experiences.

There are some supportive, very well-informed employers but problems still arise. Managers may be aware that a worker is autistic and want to support them but colleagues may not be aware or may have negative attitudes. An autistic worker may not want colleagues to know of their condition but it is hard to be successful at work without supportive co-workers. Sometimes the colleagues are supportive and it is managers who cause the problems. A final issue is that of service users or customers. A worker may have excellent, very supportive and well-informed managers and colleagues but have difficulties with those who use the service. Awareness and positive attitudes about autism can be even less common in the wider population who use a service than among the workforce. While it may be possible and helpful for someone with autism to mention this to service users in other cases it is not practical or advisable. Employers can try to work around this so autistic workers are less likely to have problems with service users but it is not easy to do. Knowledge of autism can certainly be used against individuals with autism but on the whole it offers their best chance of having good experience in employment.

 

I found it was all very black and white in the USSR where, even in a communist economy, autistic children or adults existed. It doesn't sound very flattering but they had so-called factories and centres for "neurotics". These were probably children who left special schools. Those with a history. Often they did skilled work but.apart from mainstream society. The downside was autism in the USSR was thought of as a physical.disorder caused by possibly pre-natal fever or even contamination. So drugs were supplied. It was definitely recognised though as a factor in society. I often think had I lived in the.USSR for sure I would have been removed from State school. Then examined by a psychiatrist and classed as neurotic. At that point my black sense of humour kicks in. What would happen if you filled in a job application and used the term "a neurotic" instead of A.S.? My guess is it would leave them floundering. 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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