Autism in the Workplace

For those on the autism spectrum, employment in itself can be a challenge. Employers always look for good communication skills in an interviewee, yet for someone with ASD, communicating and interacting with someone they have never met before can be an enormous hurdle to overcome.     

The change that a new job creates can be challenging for anyone let alone someone who may have developed routines as a way of managing the difficulties that daily life brings them.

Some shocking statistics below reveal the extent of the problem those with ASD face in securing employment: 

Only 16% of adults with ASD are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work
— The National Autistic Society (2016). The autism employment gap: Too Much Information in the workplace. p5
Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it
— Bancroft et al (2012). The Way We Are: Autism in 2012. London: The National Autistic Society

Autism in the Workplace Survey

We are asking businesses and staff to take part in our short survey to enable us to build a better picture of how understood autism is in the work place.  The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and is anonymous.  

To see the results and to understand more about why we are asking people to take part, click here or...

For Employers

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The Equality Act 2010 makes a requirement for employers to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities.  Although many individuals with ASD do not consider themselves to have a 'disability', autism should be treated as one when considering adjustments employees with ASD may require.

Reasonable adjustments does not necessary mean "lots of money to spend".  Some simple, well thought out adjustments may not cost an employer anything but will make the world of difference to their employee.  For example:

  • Job Description and Responsibilities.  Make it clear and if necessary re-word the current (often poorly written anyway) job description to one that actually makes sense to someone in a bullet form, to the point fashion.  Clarify with the employee that they have understood each of the points contained within their job description
  • Expectations.  Add some additional work related etiquette points and some of the more 'unwritten rules' of the workplace.  For example, the person who is late in to work is always expected to 'make the tea'.
  • Job Coaches. Group training can be a daunting experience for anyone but for someone with ASD, its highly likely they will not be able to focus as clearly due to increased distractions and may not take in the information that is required.  Job coaches can help by providing some structured 1:1 sessions to ensure the employee is getting what they and you need.
  • Environment.  Many individuals with ASD benefit from a structured  work environment.  Consider timetables, breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones and help them create their own routine around their job.  This will produce a much better work output and a happier employee.
  • Communication.  Ensure that you review your communication platforms and adjust your delivery so that you are being straight, honest and constructive at all times.  Many individuals with ASD will struggle to pick up on social cues and will not be able to process sarcasm or understanding when someone is 'implying' something.
  • Sensory.  Some individuals with ASD can be hyper or hypo sensitive to light, touch, sound, taste and will benefit from having their work area adjusted to take account of these difficulties.  For example, changing a light bulb to a more natural shade rather than standard office lighting. 

Most importantly, ask an employee what would help them.  It is not expected that you will provide everything on a wish list but you may be able to provide most of it and show you are making reasonable adjustments.




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