Autism enters the workforce


Photo Courtesy Creative Commons

NEW PERSPECTIVE. Those on the spectrum are able to contribute in new ways to the workforce. Their thinking style allows individuals to think outside of the box and come up with great ideas to benefit their companies. Autism is seen as a strength in the workforce and beyond.

After graduating high school and even college, some on the Autism Spectrum struggle to find a career. It is not the fact of not being capable of working. One issue tends to be the interviewing process.

CBS Sunday Morning gave insight to this topic in their video, “The growing acceptance of autism in the workplace”.

An issue some on the spectrum may face is during the interview process, as some struggle with social and communication skills. This affects how many individuals are employed.

“Roughly 80 percent of adults with Autism are unemployed,” said Lee Cowan.

This number can be shocking, as many with Autism have an IQ well above average.

Some “hallmarks” of Autism are recognizing patterns and having fantastic attention to detail, which serves as a strength in many workplaces. Microsoft realized that these Autistic individuals are phenomenal thinkers, and wanted to make sure they are included in the company.

“…It is a talent pool that really has not been tapped…” said Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chief accessibility officer at Microsoft.

To get those on the spectrum involved, Microsoft created a non traditional interview process.

This process includes teamwork and trying to accomplish a task, such as building a structure out of uncooked spaghetti and attempting to balance a marshmallow on top.

The non traditional interview allows the interviewee not to be so self conscious about their social behavior, but also shows how they can work together with others to complete a task.

Microsoft was happy to create this interview process to include those on the spectrum.

“People with disabilities are a strength and a force of nature within this company,” Lay-Flurrie said.

Other companies across the country, such as JP Morgan and Ford, are looking to hire many Autistic employees into their companies.
Within the workforce, it is important that Autistic employees feel welcome and included just as everyone else.

SAP was one of the first major companies to reach out to the Autistic community, looking to hire nearly 600 people on the spectrum.

Through the program, Autistic employees not only connect with each other and peers, but also with their mentor. These employees have the same expectations as others, and are given the same opportunities as well.

Autism may make minds work differently, but in a new, unique way that gives an advantage to those on the spectrum. These individuals are able to think outside of the box and contribute in ways many others cannot to their place of work.