n the UK there are more than 700,000 individuals living with autism, however, less than 15% of these people are in full-time employment. This is a dispiriting figure when you consider the many skills and talents people with autism have, skills which are highly beneficial in the workplace.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a disease or illness and it cannot be cured – the unique elements of autism are an integral part of the person’s make-up. As it is defined across a spectrum, people with autism will all experience it in a unique way, however, it usually has some effect on how individuals communicate and interact with others. As well, it is also important to remember that autism is not a visible disability.
In 2010, The Equality Act came into force in the UK and made it unlawful for any employer to discriminate on the grounds of disability. Perhaps this has made some employers reassess their approach to autism, however, employing people with a disability is not a matter of filling quotas. Instead, the focus should be on the value each individual can bring to the prospective role. Those who fall within the spectrum of autism have a huge amount to offer companies. Individuals with autism are often excellent problem solvers; have outstanding concentration and memory skills; pay great attention to detail; and are highly dependable, just some of the traits that companies are looking for in employees.
Dave Kearon, Autism Speaks Director of Adult Services, “This is not about charity or about what businesses can do for people with autism; it’s about what individuals with autism have shown they can do for businesses. Companies are recognising the many strengths and abilities of job seekers with autism, and are beginning to make available to this community the opportunities they deserve. Autism Speaks encourages businesses from all industries to consider this untapped talent pool as well.” – This is an attitude Home Care Preferred fully endorses.
The National Autistic Society recommends that hiring managers rework their questions to be very direct, avoiding idioms and metaphors, and provide the questions to applicants before the interview.