Autism in the workplace

September 7, 2016 - Daniel Aherne

Autism in the workplace

You may have heard about autism in the news, or you may have heard about a friend’s child that has autism. You may even have heard that children with autism become adults – fact!

Autism is often referred to as a hidden disability: you can’t see it in the same way you can see if someone is a wheelchair user. It is estimated that 1.1% of the population have a diagnosis of autism. That’s nearly 700,000 people in the UK and 70 million people worldwide – a number roughly equivalent to the UK population.

Autism is a spectrum condition that affects people in many different ways. Primarily it influences people’s social interactions and ability to deal with change and the unknown, leading to high anxiety. People with autism commonly compare their condition to being in a foreign country without knowing the customs or language.

It is estimated that only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time employment even though they can make exceptional employees. Autistic people are often very reliable and have a high aptitude for pattern recognition and associated skills. Their low employment rate is often due simply to a lack of reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process and a lack of understanding in how best to retain staff with autism.

While many businesses want to support their autistic employees they don’t always know how to best do so. The first step for employers and line managers is to develop an understanding of the condition, without this they may find it difficult to get the best out of an employee with autism.

Employers are also obliged, under the Equality Act 2010, to make reasonable adjustments for autistic employees. These could range from providing an interview alternative such as a work trial for someone with autism to holding a training session on the condition, or perhaps funding a weekly coaching session from an autism expert. How can you ensure your business is meeting its requirements under the Equality Act?

Contact Adjust to find to out how we can help your business implement reasonable adjustments and become an inclusive workplace for employees with autism, increasing your business’s productivity.

The first step is understanding.

Autism Understood