Neuro-diversity in the Workplace

An employer may need to make adjustments to capitalise fully on the abilities of the individual with ASD. These abilities will include: unique thinking processes, creativity, a strong work ethic, honesty, logic, conscientiousness and attention to detail.

Inclusion at work.

Jane, an imaginary employee with ASD : –

  1. Comes to work in order to work; she does not find it easy to make small talk or socialise. 

When socialising is an essential part of a job, delegate a sensitive, kind colleague to accompany Jane to any meetings in order to reduce her anxiety, and to model appropriate social behaviour. Jane will learn the desired skills through mimicry.

  1. Feels uncomfortable contributing verbally in large groups. 

Give Jane agendas in advance and allow her to write reports, rather than give oral presentations.

  1. Experiences sensory difficulties, perhaps with noise or temperature.

Too much noise, heat or flickering light will make Jane feel ill and unable to concentrate. 

If she can work in a quieter space, close to a window that provides natural light and opens for air flow, she will feel more in control of her environment. 

Allow Jane to wear headphones to reduce noise or sunglasses to minimise the effect of fluorescent lighting. 

Where possible, allow flexible working hours or home working.

  1. Has a lack of social understanding that may lead to her being bullied.

Take responsibility: the employer sets the tone of the work environment. Speak positively yourself about all employees, discourage gossip, give generous praise; never ridicule. Always encourage compassionate relationships between colleagues. 

  1. Tells the truth and does not play games.

Jane may be blunt. She is not being deliberately offensive. It simply appears pointless to her not to tell the truth. 

Be patient and listen to what she is saying, rather than how she is saying it. 

Use humour to lighten awkward situations. 

Provide a non-judgemental mentor to explain any real faux pas in a straightforward and pragmatic way.

  1. Prefers routine and predictability. 

Give precise instructions and clear guidelines, (although Jane will always work best independently and without constant scrutiny.) 

Introduce any changes in routine before they happen, to give Jane time to prepare herself.

To get the best from Jane, play to her strengths rather than her weakness.

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