Accommodating autism in the workplace

Accommodating autism in the workplace

Excerpted from an SHRM blog by Gene Hobbs

Autism affects nearly 1 in 68 school aged children in the US (CDC, 2016). With this high prevalence of autism in our population, it is not unlikely that a manager will be faced with an applicant or employee with autism. Just as likely is the possibility that you already have an employee that is the parent of an autistic child.

As a manager, or human resources professional, we care. We know that the most successful leaders are the ones that let their employees know that they care. We believe in people. If we didn’t, we could never develop teams that work quickly and efficiently. It is inherent that we look for opportunities to help others grow. I was recently touched by the comments made by a manager for a young man named Raghav Swaminathan.

“At first, I thought having him work here was a way to inspire him but it appears it’s had the opposite effect” (ClemsonLIFE, 2018). This quote describing Raghav enlightens us to the incredible value of hiring employees with autism. ClemsonLIFE is a program that provides “students with intellectual disabilities who desire a postsecondary experience on a college campus” an opportunity to grow (Clemson, 2018). In his work with the campus facilities team, and as an intern at Duke University, Raghav has inspired his team to achieve more, do more, and overall be better (Zarcone, 2017). It reminds me to look for ways I can surround myself with people that are different, and in cases like this, better than me.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder is not specifically named in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) noted in 2011 that in an individualized assessment, almost all people with autism will determine there is a disability under the ADA (EEOC, 2011). With this kind of guidance, we need to be prepared to provide accommodations to our employees with autism and also recognize that the accommodations will likely be different than those of others on our team.

You can read the full blog here.

 

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