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Hiring people with autism isn’t simply altruistic—it’s good for business, too.
Some 92 percent of Americans view companies that hire people with disabilities favorably, and 87 percent would prefer to give such companies their business, according to Autism Speaks.
What’s more, experts say, those individuals who have disabilities can be just as productive as people without disabilities, and absenteeism rates among people with autism are lower than or equal to those of other groups of workers.
Employers that hire people with autism often find them to be creative and talented and say they’ve seen a positive impact on morale, retention and corporate culture.
Autism Speaks provides the following guidelines for recruiting, hiring and supporting workers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD):
• Be wary of online applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that may screen out individuals with ASD or other cognitive disabilities. Instead, invest in an ATS that is disability-friendly. Keep in mind that online tests may limit the field of applicants who may otherwise be qualified.
• Consider using a website such as The Spectrum Careers (www.thespectrumcareers.com) to post jobs that may be performed by people who are on the autism spectrum.
• Use behavior-based interview questions to determine past behavior and predict future performance.
• Remember that adults with ASD may have no previous work experience.
• Consider giving candidates a preview of the job to assess their ability to perform the tasks for which they may be hired, since those on the autism spectrum may benefit from experiential interviews.
• Enlist the help of consultants to determine if there are jobs in your organization that can be performed by people with autism. You may not be aware that disability-friendly jobs exist in your company; an outsider may see things from a different perspective.
• Educate managers on what they may expect from working with individuals with autism.
• Keep in mind that workers with autism tend to be more comfortable with consistency and routine. Changes in schedules may impact their ability to get to and from work or may create other issues.
• Assign trained mentors to help those with ASD acclimate to the workplace.
• Don’t adjust performance expectations just because someone has autism. Hire only those who are qualified for the positions you are trying to fill, and don’t hire workers because you feel sorry for them.
• Make sure employees with autism know exactly what their responsibilities are and who to report to when work is completed. Consider using a job coach to help them become acclimated with their new job and responsibilities. The coach may need to step in periodically to help if problems or new responsibilities arise.
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