That people with autism add value to an organization has been long established. Companies are increasingly waking up to the need for an inclusive workforce. However, despite the best intentions, many employers are still busy figuring out appropriate ways to interact with and bring the best out of their employees who have autism. Are you one of them? Here are six tips for you:
Address semantic disagreements upfront
There’s a perpetually raging debate on whether to use “individual with autism” or “autistic individual”. It’s better to ask an individual how they would like to be addressed!
Communicate in a friendly way
When talking to someone with autism, please speak in a friendly tone (as you would when talking to anyone). If the person doesn't understand, leave it to them to ask you to speak differently.
An autistic person may not respond instantly to what you're saying. They may take longer than others to process information because of sensory reasons. A delay in response doesn’t mean they’re rude, inattentive, or hurried.
Stop glorifying autism
Not everybody on the autism spectrum is a savant. Not every amputee has scaled the summit of Mt. Everest. Instead of glorifying autism and disabilities, focus on providing personalized support services when necessary.
When communicating with a person who has autism, talk to them directly. Speaking through someone else is an exclusionary practice that shows lack of respect.
Ask before helping
The last thing that an autistic individual deserves is to be reminded of their autism. If you want to assist such an employee, first ask whether they need your help. Instead of helping directly, please encourage them to do their own work. Unsolicited help can be confusing or disorienting for someone who works differently.