I’ve noticed a recent trend at businesses including Schnucks and Trader Joe’s – their transparency and pride in hiring autistic employees. The fact that more companies are striving to have an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce makes me smile. Hiring individuals with autism is just another indicator of how we are progressing as a society, recognizing that all individuals have a place to contribute and add value.
This led me to dig a little deeper into how autistic professionals can begin their career and impact their workplace.
According to Liz Kinsella, BCBA, Program Director for Thrive Autism Solutions in St. Louis, hiring an employee with autism not only adds to a company’s diversity, but is a sound business decision. Corporations can leverage the strengths of those on the spectrum and improve their own business practices.
Workers with autism can maximize their potential in many roles, including:
- Positions that require a great attention to detail.
- Jobs that are highly structured or repetitive.
- Shifts typically difficult to staff or that have high turnover, including overnight or solo hours. The result can be a dream work environment for individuals on the autism spectrum.
As with any new hire, workers with autism may need specialized training or minor accommodations in the workplace. They may need assistance from a job coach, having complex tasks broken down into smaller steps, or extra visual support like written lists or schedules written they can reference.
Of course, those who hire should understand the social differences and difficulties for those on the spectrum. An applicant with autism may not make the most eye contact in an interview. They might be blunter and more honest than other applicants who engage in the typical “schmoozing” during the hiring process. However, such honesty, directness, and even a dislike of office small talk can be extremely valuable traits in an employee.
Autism Speaks found that 92% of Americans view companies hiring people with disabilities more favorably than those companies that do not. In an effort to address the issue of employment for individuals with autism nation-wide, they partnered with Rangam Consulting, Inc., a staffing company that helps meet the needs of Fortune 500 companies, to create TheSpectrumCareers.com.
Individuals with autism seeking a job can submit their resume to the site, where experienced recruiters will match applicants to suitable jobs and forward their resumes to the hiring managers. There are close to 10,000 job openings currently posted, including local job opportunities with Barnes & Noble in St. Louis.
On a national scale, Ford Motor Company recently announced the launch of their new job-training program for individuals with autism, FordInclusiveWorks. A typical job with the FordInclusiveWorks directs employees with autism to log and prepare tires prior to inspection, including testing with engineers.
Thanks to intensive early intervention, or Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), many young children with autism are growing up to be fantastic candidates for the workforce, ready and eager to contribute to society. Ford Motor Company and other large international corporations recognize the potential impact that hiring workers with autism can have for both business and the community at large.
St. Louis area businesses can benefit (many already are) by doing the same.