Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Employment Issues in Autism: Recommendations

So what can an employer do to maximize the chances for success by autistic workers and job candidates? Well, if you asked that, you're in luck, because I have a list of recommendations courtesy of Hurlbutt and Chalmers's interview subjects:

  • job coaching/mentoring
  • write job descriptions more clearly and with more detail
  • make expectations more explicit
  • support personnel helping autistics find jobs need to check with them to find out whether to disclose their autism
  • consider the advantages of autism when hiring
  • educate co-workers about autism to minimize friction

I would also add one very important one of my own to this list: in technical jobs, especially entry-level ones, consider waiving the interview in favor of a trial workday. We have the skills, we're observant, conscientious and thorough --- we just can't convey it in words! Why not let us show you instead?

EDIT: Galling Galla has two awesome posts that go into much greater detail about this stuff. The first is a list of recommendations for employers, and the second is for friends and romantic partners. The series is called "I'm an Aspie. Here's What You Can Do to Make My Life a Bit Easier." Catchy, isn't it? Go read.


Anemone said...

I had huge self esteem issues when I was looking at getting work in my field, not to mention confusion over whether I belonged in it or not. (I was not doing as well as I needed to in grad school, either.) Later, with the last job I had, I slipped through the cracks in a big way even though the guy who originally hired me thought I was wonderful.

For me, all of this was due to insufficient mentoring. I needed/still need heavy duty mentoring, to get past the gap between my perception of what I can do versus what I can do, plus to make sure I get off to a good start. Only for some reason I'm the one that everyone thinks doesn't need any help at all.

Lindsay said...

Insufficient mentoring, yes, that's a big issue as well.

I also feel like I didn't get any kind of one-on-one guidance during college --- mostly, for me, because I didn't know I needed it. I thought college was just about doing well in one's classes, not about making connections, working with professors outside of class, or getting leads on possible career paths --- or any of the stuff I now read about college doing for other people. I'm very literal-minded, so I never thought to do/pursue more than I was explicitly told to do. I never even knew you could.

I also relate to what you say about looking like the one who doesn't need any help --- if I am confused about something, I'm in no shape to try and communicate about that! Instead, I flail around trying to make sense of it myself. This probably looks to other people as though I am terribly sure of what I am doing, but often it doesn't feel that way.

"Slipp[ing] through the cracks" is an excellent phrase --- probably a lot of us who do manage to go to college or get jobs do that.