Do you work with an employee with Autism Spectrum Disorder or are you considering hiring someone with ASD? Here are five things you should know.
April is Autism Acceptance Month to acknowledge the 1 in 54 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to educate those who are unfamiliar with the developmental disorder. For some of us, we live with autism everyday—through our children, families, friends and more.
I am one of those people. My 13-year-old son is on the spectrum, and I am in awe of him every day—how hard he works and how much he’s grown.
Each year, I try to do different things to show my support, for example, dying my hair blue—something my son requested when he was 7 and I still do each year. There are many posts and articles that provide educational material on ASD, most of which focus on children. But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about adults with ASD—probably because my son is heading to high school next year and I need to start thinking about things like will he go to college, when should he get a job, etc.
Recently I saw a social media post about 19-year-old Ryan Lowry, who wrote a simple letter titled “Dear Future Employer” that described some of his challenges, but if given the chance, what a valuable employee he’d be. Inspiration struck. As someone who is actively hiring, I thought it may be helpful to share some things for managers to keep in mind that are looking to create an inclusive hiring environment for people with differing abilities, like those with ASD.
There are many, many nuances to the challenges people with ASD face each day. If you're interested in learning more about working with or welcoming a person with ASD to your team, or other people of differing emotional and social abilities, consider talking to a psychologist or other expert in that field. They can offer great guidance on how to best engage with and get the most out of your potential new hire.
And as a parent of a child with ASD, I cannot say it enough—people with ASD may learn differently, but at the end of the day, they want the same things that we all do and should be given the chance to prove themselves and succeed.
For information and resources on Autism, visit AutismAcceptance.com.
Read tips from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on hiring people with disabilities.
Erica McShane has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech public relations and corporate communications. With a focus on building awareness across the media, analyst and influencer communities, she has worked with all kinds of businesses—from startup to global tech giants—to build visibility, credibility and market awareness within the business, trade and online media. At Progress, Erica and her team are responsible for the company's global PR efforts, analyst relations, social media, content, customer programs as well as internal communications and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
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