Supporting your employee with autism is critical in maintaining a positive and productive workplace relationship. Trainings should acclimate new employees to the workplace culture, policies, and procedures. The Organization for Autism Research offers a free brochure to assist frontline supervisors in training their new hire. Tips include how to:
- Get to know your employee
- Orient your employee and train him or her on specific job duties
- Foster a welcoming and supportive workplace
- Maximize your company’s existing support systems
- Give clear directions and performance feedback
Another excellent resource for supervisors is Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities: a resource guide for employers, created by the federal government and released by the White House to promote the hiring of individuals with disabilities.
The resource is broken up into four sections:
- Recruiting candidates with disabilities
- Respecting, retaining, and promoting employees with disabilities
- Providing reasonable accommodations
- Understanding the legal framework
To access this guide, please click here!
Tips for Employers
- It doesn’t hurt to do some quick research on an employee’s disability. Even taking as little as 10 minutes to read up on the basics can help.
- Give deadlines. Individuals with autism respond well to parameters that dictate when a particular task should be completed.
- Play to their strengths. Ask your employee what kind of work he or she prefers. For every task, there is a tool suited to it. Find out what your employee is most suited for and you will see productivity increase, as well as his or her job satisfaction.
- Try to include them in office events and help them develop a healthy social life, but do not force the situation. If something goes wrong or they misstep, try to reassure them so that they are willing to try again. Individuals with autism can be very cautious, and if they sense trouble, they may withdraw more socially. The key is to try to find their comfort zone and get them just a tiny bit beyond it. Repeat this process as necessary and hopefully you will not only improve their interactions in the workplace, but also help them outside of it.
- Be prepared to guide your worker frequently at first. If you are exceptionally busy and do not think you can be there often enough to fill this role, consider matching them with a mentor. Above all, try to make sure they always know whom to ask for help and have someone else available if you are busy.
- Don’t be overwhelmed. Learning how to work with or supervise an employee with autism may seem like a lot at first glance and you might even be questioning if it is worth the trouble at all, but don’t count them out. People on the spectrum can be extremely loyal and while it may take them some time to adjust to a new task or position, they will eventually get the hang of it and it will happen faster if you are willing to work with them.