Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Autism and the workplace

You know, in a way, I wish I knew about my Asperger's before what happened in my Animal Control career. The education of it may have saved a great deal from occurring. But my diagnosis was in process. No one knew. I didn't know. What made that worse was it meant I didn't know myself.

One of the most important things to know about autism is that it affects how we react and interact with the world around us. There are some things we see in a strict black and white and context gets lost. It can make misunderstandings easy, too easy. Same for frustrations.

If you are going to hire someone with autism, you should know their "quirks" and get to know them personally at least a little bit. Try to see their manner of communication and always be as specific as you can. That's not to say that people with autism cannot follow directions. But once some of us get an attention to detail we can be very rigid with it. That could be useful to an employer if you think about it.

In a way, companies could do well to learn about autism as much as our educational system. After all, our children on the spectrum today could be the workers of tomorrow. No, not all of them, but there are people with autism who have jobs. Since the numbers of children diagnosed has increased, it stands to reason that some of them will move on from school to college or to jobs.

Do people with autism require accomadations on the job to help them reasonably perform that job? Some will, some won't. A level of understanding and acceptance will go far.

If a person is unsure what they can do or if they can work, they can be tested at their local Vocational Rehabilitation center. The tests they do will tell you what areas of work you are most attuned to. Amazing test, I took it myself. I was found to be geared toward journalistic/writing and protection jobs. Protection jobs meaning things like security or law enforcement. Interesting how I've done both before I was ever tested. See what equivalent is near you if you don't have a Vocational Rehab office.

So high functioning persons with autism can enter the workforce with proper support. Just one more way we can lead functional lives.

No comments: