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How to Effectively Interact with Autistic Employees

Rangam Aug 3, 2023 7:42:36 AM
Two women and two men engaged in interactions, demonstrating effective ways to engage with autistic employees

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.

Have patience

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.

Talk directly

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.

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