Do you have an autistic colleague in your office? May be you have. May be you have but are not aware of it. May be you have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) yourself. Or there could be an autistic dependent child or adult in your home. Whatever it is, ASD acceptance in the workplace is a major issue that autistic employees face.
Being an autistic individual means having a “brain wiring” which is different from majority of the people, or neuro-typicals, as they are known in psychological jargon. It’s not that people with autism have a fault. They are just different from the rest. Autism is a spectrum with each person having a varying degree of prevalence. Each person with autism is an individual, with an individual set of skills, sensitiveness, and challenges. ASD also includes Asperger’s syndrome.
Workplaces today, in most cases, are a difficult and depressing environment for a typically autistic person. While employment opportunities have increased over the years, ASD acceptance in offices is still a far cry. Communication inside an office often seems like a foreign language to autistic employees. At the same time, noise, smells, crowds and light levels could be unbearable. ASD acceptance often suffers from an autistic employee’s pace of work which usually doesn’t match with the rest of the staff. The social and unwritten rules are usually difficult to follow for an autistic employee as well as exhausting to keep pace with. Sometimes managers, or even colleagues, bully autistic employees. In many cases, they may not be aware of inadvertently bullying an autistic worker. A change in routine at the workplace as well as working practices could be disorienting. Mentoring and support is usually not available.
Because of lack of ASD acceptance, less than 15% of adults with autism find full-time employment. Only 9% are involved in any part-time work. Most autistic adults are eligible to work full-time. But unfavorable recruitment policies and a discriminatory work environment are deterrents in this regard.