April is Autism Acceptance Month and we are sharing some tips and resources to help employers build a more inclusive workplace.
The first national Autism Awareness Month took place in April of 1970 in an effort to not only bring nation-wide awareness to those affected by autism, but to ensure that those with ASD are able to achieve the highest quality of life possible, including access to equal education, employment, community and independence. April is now recognized globally as World Autism Month and nationally as Autism Acceptance Month and April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day.
To honor this month and contribute to the dialogue surrounding ASD, we’ve put together a list of ways employers can be more inclusive of autism in the workplace.
1. Be mindful of the language you use in job descriptions and hiring.
In a report by Ashlea McKay for Neurodiversity Hub, founder of Remarkable Tech Peter Horsley says, “for someone with autism, they might read a job ad quite literally and say if there are nine attributes that are needed in a job and I don’t have one of those attributes then that job is not for me.” In your job descriptions, try to list only the absolute necessities a successful candidate should exhibit.
2. Be aware of affinity bias.
It’s human nature to treat someone more favorably if they exhibit similar traits, as a result, employers and HR representatives need to be cognizant of affinity bias in their own recruiting practices.
3. Raise awareness in the workplace of the common myths surrounding autism.
This resource for employers by Neurodiversity Hub helps debunk some myths and misconceptions regarding ASD.
Download Brochure: Understanding autism for employers
4. Understand the specific needs of autistic employees and be ready to adapt.
While not all people with intellectual disabilities need accommodations to perform their job duties, some with autism may benefit from small adjustments such as being allowed to wear noise-reduction headphones, working in less-bright areas that don’t trigger light sensitivities, and having a structured work day with exact times for breaks and meetings.
5. Educate and engage.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to understanding ASD – every individual on the spectrum is different. As employers and leaders, it’s important to stay proactive in your inclusion efforts. Consider implementing Sensitivity Training for the whole team to better understand how they can be more inclusive in their day-to-day behaviors. Engage with local organizations such as Cascade, who match qualified individuals with employment opportunities here in Jefferson County.