Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) bring a variety of strengths and skills to the workplace. With a rising number of young adults entering the workforce, whose ASD ranges from mild to severe, it is becoming increasingly important for employers to provide an encouraging and supportive environment. When employers offer accommodations such as proper training, time management tools, and the opportunity to share workloads, the employees are given a better chance at being successful in the workplace.
Many employers have concerns about how to accommodate employees on the Autism Spectrum. Due to the varying characteristics of ASD, each person may need individual accommodations. Some people with ASD deal with sensory stimulation distractions. These can include, employee chatter, everyday office noises (phone ringing, copy machine, etc.) Another characteristic is atypical body movements such as fidgeting, which can help calm the individual and/or help them concentrate on tasks they are given at the workplace. Lastly, stress management is key to helping employees with ASD succeed. Many situations at work can create a stressful environment for the individual, such as conflict among employees, deadlines, unrealistic timeframes, and workloads.
Employers should educate themselves on how to accommodate employees with ASD to create a positive and supportive environment. Below are tips supervisors can use as they orient, train, and encourage their employees’ professional development.
- Reduce auditory and visual distractions
- Reduce the clutter in the employee’s work environment
- Use hand-held squeeze balls and similar objects to provide a calming effect
- Provide positive reinforcement
- Modify the work schedule
- Provide sensitivity training for the other employers
Below you will find a link for the Employer Guide to Supervising Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders from the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education. This useful resource will help employers interested in hiring a group of capable yet under-employed individuals: those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).