Nobody, regardless of neurotype, is a mind reader, and no matter how clear you think you’ve been with your non-verbal communication, your employee may have no idea anything is amiss until they’re being escorted out of the building, box in hand, tears in their eyes. And that’s a terrible feeling.
All posts by Jaime A. Heidel
April is Autism Acceptance Month, and while acceptance is a step in the right direction, that’s all it is; a step. We have to keep going if we’re going to move toward true autistic inclusion in the workforce and in society as a whole.
Why Being Fired as an Autistic Person Has a More Harmful Impact Than Being Fired as a Neurotypical Person
The next time you think about firing your autistic employee because they didn’t greet you on their way to clock in, asked too many questions, didn’t do the thing you subtly suggested they do, or declined an invitation to hang out, remember, you may be dooming someone to homeless, for something that could easily be fixed with a better understanding of the autistic brain and more accessible communication.
When it comes to hiring, training, and retaining autistic talent, throw everything you think you know out the window, and allow them to take the lead and guide you through how their brain works. When you do, you’ll not only provide them with the accessibility they need, you’ll also allow them to grow and thrive, and that can help take your entire team to the next level!
Ask questions, get clarification, and always assume positive intent. The neurodivergent mind can be an incredible asset to your company, and the more you learn about it, the less often you’ll be offended and the more you’ll be able to broaden your horizons and take your business to the next level.
Why the ‘Best Practice’ Approach to Accommodations Won’t Always Work for Your Autistic Employees (And What Will)
Reframing the word ‘accommodations’ into the broader scope of accessibility can help benefit not only your neurodivergent employees, but all of your employees, and your company as a whole!
Be clear and concise, follow up with emails, check in and answer questions, and assume positive intent. Giving direct instructions upfront means less time cleaning up after communication breakdowns, and more time making your business a success!
If you’re a neurotypical employer who employs or wants to employ neurodivergent talent, pay close attention to each point, and try to view these situations from our perspective.
‘Masking’, also called ‘camouflaging’ is a common practice for autistic people in any setting where we feel we may be singled out, mistreated, bullied, or abused. And, since we live in a neurotypical world not designed for us, feeling at least a bit unsafe is a part of our daily experience–hence the masking.