Apr 12, 2023 | Neurodiversity

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April: Autism Awareness Month

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Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month? Well, if you didn’t, now you do! At Candor Disability Group we believe in supporting not only mental health efforts, but we also believe in educating people about neurodiversity, especially in the workplace. Therefore, we thought in today’s blog we would chat about how you can be supportive and inclusive in your business or organization. 

What is Autism? 

The Mayo Clinic describes Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as the following: “a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, causing problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.”  

Typically beginning in early childhood, ASD can impact daily life socially in school, and later at work. Symptoms commonly show up during the first year of life, or individuals can show signs of regression between the ages of 18-24 months. While there is no cure, with support and resources, Autistic individuals can live full and prosperous lives. 

Autism in the workplace 

Even though we are more educated about Autism, there are still many stereotypes that exist toward individuals living with this disorder. Bullying, mistreatment, and discrimination is something many still experience, and often hide or mask their symptoms to better “fit in.” This is something we hope to see completely disappear, and we can do our part by helping to educate those who aren’t neurodiverse to better understand, and accommodate those who are. 

In an article from Harvard Business Review, “autistic professionals can be up to 140% more productive than the typical employee when properly matched to jobs. While we should not generalize such results to the entire population, research shows that professionals on the autism spectrum bring valuable strengths to the workplace, including (but not limited to) understanding complex systems, independently focusing on tasks, reliability, and loyalty.”  

However, while this may be the case, research also shows that 20% of adults with autism are unemployed, with some other estimates being higher

One of the best ways to be an inclusive workplace is to be accepting and willing to better understand Autistic people. Create a safe space for any, and all, employees so that you are a welcoming space for new, and existing hires. Promoting acceptance and kindness benefits everyone.  

Accommodating Autistic individuals is also important. This can depend on the individual, so what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. Therefore, it is important to communicate with the individual, and provide the accommodations specific to their needs. Each case will be different so you never want to assume or jump to conclusions about what those may be. 

Educating all your employees is also key, as you want to ensure that they understand why these accommodations are necessary. Encourage the workplace to support Autistic individuals, rather than making them feel inferior or embarrassed.  

Kindness and knowledge go a long way! We encourage your workplace to be a safe and accommodating space for everyone.

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