Autistic people can face many barriers when trying to find and maintain employment, which sadly means that only 22% of autistic people are in any kind of employment.
While all autistic people have their own strengths and challenges (since autism is a spectrum condition), all autistic people have difficulties with social interaction, social communication, and social imagination. Autistic people can also face difficulties with sensory sensitivities, high anxiety, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors, with all of this meaning that a workplace environment and maintaining employment can be very difficult.
Despite this, the barriers preventing autistic people from working can normally be removed or reduced through ‘reasonable adjustments’. Examples of ‘reasonable adjustments’ that can be put into place are giving clear instructions and understanding the employee’s sensory needs. Not only are these adjustments normally easy to put into place, but employers have a legal obligation to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when required under the Equality Act 2010.
These adjustments should be put into place for the application process as well as in the workplace environment, to enable autistic people to be able to apply for jobs more easily. It is also important that employers work to promote autism awareness among their staff as well as putting adjustments into place. A lack of understanding can mean that an autistic employee doesn’t receive the support they need, and can also cause prejudice and discrimination.
As well as the adjustments being easy to put into place, they also allow employers to benefit from the many strengths an autistic employee can have! Autistic employees often have a great attention to detail and high levels of concentration, and are reliable, committed, and respectful – all desirable qualities for an employee! As an organization, many of our team are autistic, so we know first-hand of all of the strengths our autistic employees add to our team!
If any employers require assistance to make their workplace autism friendly, the National Autistic Society’s website contains lots of tips and information to help!