- Nov. 10, 2021
-- Autism is a lifelong condition affecting one in 100 people in the UK. Employers may need to support an Autistic employee.How is Autism treated?
The condition is not a disease and cannot be treated or cured by medical intervention. Most successful strategies to support Autistic people involve adaptation and understanding.Tips for recruiting someone with Autism
Autistic people may not apply for jobs requiring "good communication skills". However, lots of autistic people have exceptional skills. Autistic people can often demonstrate incredible concentration, perseverance, reliability, attention to detail, technical skills and often excellent memory and recall.
Employers should consider:
Tips to help hold an equal interview
- A candidate may not declare Autism
- If it is declared it is essential to make reasonable adjustments
- Asking every candidate the same questions may not show equality of opportunity
Impact on work
- Interviews often emphasise conversational or social skills which many people with Autism find difficult
- Eye contact or body language may not be maintained or reciprocated
- Candidates may struggle to adapt between formal and informal tones
- Provide clear directions and instructions on what to do upon arrival
- Consider sharing the questions in advance
- Let the candidate know who they will be meeting in advance
- If you can, provide access to a quiet space, reducing sensory stimulation
- Be prepared to accept literal responses - asking "how did you approach your last role?" may elicit "by bus and then I walked."
- Offer the opportunity to take breaks before starting the interview
Many of the impacts of Autism on work relate to communication. Often, there are difficulties in setting performance targets, although there are strategies that can help.
If an autistic employee's health is affecting their work, sensitivity will be beneficial in approaching the issue. The same strategies that can underpin a successful interview can be applied to performance reviews; giving good notice, confirming the topics to be discussed in advance etc.
Because Autism is a disability the Equality Act 2010 applies and employers must consider adjustments before exploring capability.Reasonable adjustments at work
Adjustments relating to Autism are often specific to the individual, because the range, severity and scope of the spectrum can vary so much.
Autistic employees may benefit from:
- Help with sensory stimuli; screens around desks, noise-cancelling headphones etc
- Specific instructions about how to carry out tasks, perhaps written clearly
- Timetables for daily, weekly or monthly tasks
- Written guidance about practices
- A mentor or buddy to help with the role or tasks
- Short/frequent reviews
- Sensitive feedback
- Access to safe/quiet spaces when anxious or overwhelmed
- Use of a card to show others they are becoming anxious or overwhelmed
- As much notice as possible for changes to the role or environment
- Consider offering training to employees on neuro-diversity or Autism
for more information on the topic.