Autistic individuals bring special talents, skills and their own unique perspective to help you meet your organization’s goals. Having diversity of thought can help your company better solve problems. Milestones can help bring diversity into your workplace through professional consultations and training.
Making the workplace welcoming and meeting the needs of diverse people including those with autism builds a strong community for everyone. Leaders who have implemented efforts to recruit and retain neurodiverse employees reported at the 2018 Autism at Work Summit that it is also better for the bottom line and improves the working environment for all people. Accommodations made for employees with a particular disability enhance things for everyone, much like the principles of universal design, such as effective meetings and clearly marked exit signs. This article provides highlights of the 2018 Autism at Work Summit.
6 Keys to Success
- Get to know your autistic employee.
- Learn your employee’s unique strengths and challenges.
- Orient employees and train them on their specific job duties.
- Foster a welcoming and supportive environment.
- Maximize your company’s existing support systems.
- Give clear direction and performance feedback.
Each autistic person has different strengths and challenges, just like everyone. We share potential accommodations here which should be tailored to each person.
Common Strengths of Autistic People
- Able to memorize rote material easily & quickly and recall it for long periods of time.
- Can have profound talents in specific areas.
- Exceptionally precise & detail oriented.
- Extremely focused when the task is of interest or pleasurable.
- Exceptionally dependable.
- Display extreme honesty.
- Often prefer routines and schedules.
- May enjoy repetitive tasks.
- Good visual aptitude.
- Rule bound.
Autistic people may have some of these challenges which can be addressed through accommodations:
- Abstract concepts.
- Understanding other points of view.
- Executive functioning.
- Narrow range of interests.
- Misinterpretation of social cues, conversation and body language.
- Sensitivity to strong smells, bright lights and loud sounds.
- Discomfort with change.
Based on an individual’s strengths and challenges, providing accommodations such as these can help them be successful and meet your job description and organizational goals.
- Provide praise and positive reinforcement.
- Encourage employee to ask clarification questions.
- Allow employee to make telephone calls for support on breaks.
- Give “heads up” of any changes to planned schedule.
- Provide sensitivity training for workforce.
- Permit comfort object, fidget items, and/or personalization of desk or office space.
- Allow the presence of a job coach and use them appropriately.
- Modify work schedule.
- Allow for movement breaks.
- Divide large assignments into several small tasks.
- Use alarms or timers (phone, watch, computer).
- Provide a written checklist of assignments or check employees written assignment list.
- Supply/Suggest an electronic or handheld organizer & train how to use.
- Use a wall calendar to emphasize due dates.
- Have structured goals and dates for projects, tasks and review/refer to consistently.
Company Structure, Conduct Policy, and Discipline
- Explain corporate structure to employee, clear descriptions of positions and reporting structure. Do not assume that employee will understand structure from a simple chart of job titles.
- Prepare employee for method for feedback, disciplinary action, and other communication about job performance.
- Provide concrete examples to explain expected conduct.
Organization and Prioritization
- Develop color-coded system for files, projects, or activities.
- Use weekly chart to identify daily work activities or priorities.
- Use a job coach to teach/reinforce organization skills.
- Assign a mentor to help employee.
- Allow supervisor to prioritize tasks.
- Assign new project only when previous project is complete.
- Provide a "cheat sheet" of high-priority projects, people, etc.
Milestones is Here to Help You
For more information or guidance, we offer several types of support. Check out our free Helpdesk, Professional Consultations and Training. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 216.464.7600 ext. 200. We can help your workplace recruit and retain employees.
These articles offer strategies and helpful information about supporting autistic employees: