Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a spectrum of lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to other people.
Autism Spectrum Disorder includes Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Development Disorder. While all people with ASD share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways and at varying levels. People with ASD have hidden disabilities. Many people, particularly those with Asperger Syndrome, may face real difficulty getting to appointments on their own, coping with change to routine or performing well at interviews.
- The three main areas of difficulty are social interaction, communication and imagination
- Positive traits include honesty, focus, reliability, dedication, determination and being meticulous in the execution of tasks
- Poor organisational ability, resulting in a need for routine or structure
- May display inappropriate behaviour, for example, interrupting conversations
- Difficulty with social interaction such as making eye contact
- Communication challenges, for example difficulty imagining what other people are feeling and a literal interpretation of language
- Sensitivity to bright lights, noises, smells, textures or tastes
- Poor motor skills.
Potential impact on daily life and employment
- May need to undertake certain routines
- May become uncomfortable if not able to complete a task
- May be unable to make judgements about the amount of work appropriate for a task
- Communication difficulties, including poor non-verbal communication
- May dominate conversations or discuss inappropriate topics or special interests
- May have repetitive speech patterns
- Difficulty with empathy or forming friendships and relationships
- The work environment will need to be considered if the employee is sensitive to light, or the smell of a workplace.
Support in the workplace
Be clear about the job start and induction process – times, locations, dress standards, etc.
- The individual may be unlikely to pick up on team dynamics – limited social skills can mean they are unlikely to pick up on “vibes”
- Talk to the individual about whether they are happy for colleagues to be involved in a discussion around increasing awareness of ASD in the workplace
- The appointment of a workplace buddy or mentor
- If tasks undertaken are complex, training for those tasks should be delivered in a highly systematic and routine fashion. Job coaching can help train individuals for such tasks. Use of visual prompts can be effective
- Re-design the job to play to the strengths of the individual – eg. consistency, routine, high attention to detail.
Source; Autism Spectrum Australia.