Work and autism

Autism at Work -


People on the autism spectrum tend to face unique challenges in the workplace. But there are ways to identify the right kind of work for you, overcome obstacles, and set yourself up for job success.

A guide to adult autism in the workplace

For adults on the autism spectrum, searching for a job can be challenging. You might feel confident in your job skills but intimidated by the recruitment and interview process, which is often a test of social skills. Once you land a job, you may face additional challenges remaining employed while maintaining your sense of well-being. You might find yourself in uncomfortable environments that overload your senses, or end up working alongside people who misunderstand or even discriminate against you.

While it can be frustrating to find that work culture often caters to the preferences of your neurotypical peers, not working a steady job can make you feel unproductive or inhibit your financial independence. The good news is that it's possible for you to find employers who are open to the concept of neurodiversity. These types of employers will often work to accommodate your needs, and, as a result, their businesses will benefit from your unique skills and expertise.

So, how do you find jobs for people with autism? And how can you thrive in the workplace? It helps to identify your challenges, play to your strengths, and know how to navigate setbacks. Armed with that knowledge, you can feel more confident applying to jobs and feel more at ease while working a job.

Choosing and finding work

As with anyone—on the spectrum or not—not every job is going to be the right one for you. To find jobs that are the most suitable, you'll need to consider your personal strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Many people with autism are able to find rewarding employment in a wide variety of fields, ranging anywhere from health care and technical services to education and retail.

[Read: Finding the Right Career]

Know your strengths

Start by making a list of your personal strengths, then brainstorm some jobs that rely heavily on those skills. For example, do you have strong visual thinking skills? If so, some job possibilities include set designer, graphic designer, or mechanical engineering.

On the other hand, if you have a keen eye for noticing small details and assessing facts, work as a copy editor could be right for you. If you excel at math as well, you may also want to consider jobs in accounting.

Know your weaknesses

List your weaknesses and use that list to brainstorm careers that you want to avoid. For example, if you struggle with multitasking or memorizing items, a job as a waiter could be very difficult.

Acknowledging your weaknesses can also help you narrow down your list of preferred jobs. If socializing isn't your strong suit, a job in stocking shelves, loading trucks, or inputting data where you can work with minimal social interruptions may be a better choice than one in retail, for example.

Consider your preferences

Additional preferences can help determine whether or not a job is right for you. Here are a few questions to consider:

Are you willing to spend more time in school? Some positions, such as customer service representative or warehouse person, have minimal educational requirements, outside of some relevant experience. More specialized jobs, such as a pipefitter or pharmacy technician, for example, require vocational training or even a college degree.

Will the job environment be right for you? Some jobs take place in busy settings with lots of uncontrollable stimuli, such as supermarkets or restaurants. Other jobs take place in quiet offices or even allow you to work from home. Think about what kinds of settings make you uncomfortable.

Will the schedule work for you? In many industries, you might need to cover shifts if coworkers are unable to make it to work. However, certain positions can come with especially erratic hours. For example, nurses and repair technicians may find themselves frequently on-call, waiting for their services to be needed.

Will your coworkers and supervisors be accommodating? This is a question you probably won't be able to answer until at least the interview process. However, you can always ask friends and family members about their experiences with people in a particular field or company.

Tips for handling interviews

Already identified your ideal job and have an interview date set? The following tips can help you in the interview.

  • If you have any atypical habits, such as difficulty with eye contact, consider being upfront about it.
  • Look up common interview questions as well as information about the company to help you prep.
  • Remember that this interview is also a chance for you to assess the company culture and whether it will be accommodating to your needs.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for more time to think about a question. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question, if needed.
  • Highlight your skills with a portfolio of past work. Be prepared to explain, in concrete terms, how you can be an asset to the business.
  • Make sure you understand the specific job duties as listed on the job description. Ask if there are any other duties that weren't listed.
  • Practice your interpersonal skills, including body language, through mock interviews beforehand with a trusted friend.

Read: Interviewing Techniques and Tips.

Coping with common challenges in the workplace

Individuals with ASD experience a high unemployment rate. This could be because many traditional workplaces fail to accommodate some of the more common challenges employees with autism face. These challenges can include:

  • Atypical communication style
  • Difficulty with time management
  • Sensory issues
  • Anxiety
  • Desire for a consistent schedule

Of course, we’re all different and not every autistic person experiences the same difficulties or obstacles. For example, you may have anxiety and sensory problems but no issue when it comes to managing your time efficiently. Just know that many of the challenges you face in the workplace can be minimized or overcome with the right strategies.

Disclosing your diagnosis

While deciding to disclose your ASD diagnosis at work depends on your own comfort level, disclosure can come with both positive and negative repercussions. For example, some research shows that neurotypical people tend to think more favorably of people with ASD after their diagnosis is disclosed. Other research indicates that disclosure might also improve the odds of being employed. However, disclosure can also lead to workplace discrimination for some employees with autism.

Of course, in order to obtain work-related autism accommodations, you'll need to disclose your diagnosis to an employer. But disclosure is more likely to be beneficial in situations where coworkers and employers already have knowledge of ASD, support neurodiversity, and are willing to adapt to accommodate your individual skills.

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Coping with common challenges at work tip 1: Improve your social and communication skills

As early as the interview process, you might run into a common hurdle for many individuals with ASD: interpersonal skills. The interviewer will quiz you on your knowledge and experiences, but they'll also be assessing your people skills.

Some adults with ASD experience difficulty reading and responding to social cues, including facial expressions and tonal inflections. This can lead to miscommunication or even awkward interactions. For example, is the interviewer being sarcastic? Are they using nonverbal cues to prompt you to elaborate on something? Or do they want you to stop talking? You might leave the interview with the feeling that you've misunderstood the interviewer or that they have misunderstood you.

Even if you move pass the interview phase, jobs that rely heavily on interpersonal skills can continue to be very challenging. For example, you might need to address customer concerns on a sales floor or be expected to participate in lengthy meetings with coworkers. You might find these situations to be stressful and mentally draining.

Identify and practice communication skills

From being more patient with others to maintaining eye contact, interpersonal communication can cover a broad range of skills. Start by deciding which skills you want to improve on and why. For example, you might want to improve your understanding of nonverbal cues so you can tell when another person is disinterested in conversation. Or maybe you want to improve your active listening skills so you can get to know coworkers better.

Once you determine which skills you want to build, begin breaking them down into step-by-step processes. For example, to enhance your listening skills, you can minimize environmental distractions, visualize what the other person is saying, and then ask questions for clarification. Practice these skills with friends or family members who are willing to give you feedback. You can also choose to work with a therapist. Once you're comfortable, start practicing your skills in real-world situations.

[Read: Effective Communication]

Don't get too focused on perfection. And don't feel pressure to build skills or make changes that you feel are unnecessary. Also, remember that communication is a two-way street. Your neurotypical peers should also be willing to put in effort to better communicate with you.

Adjust your communication methods

Another strategy is to rely on communication methods that reduce misunderstandings whenever possible. For example, if you have a hard time with verbal communication, ask coworkers if you can coordinate tasks and deliver status updates through email. Or if you have difficulty focusing during big company meetings, ask for one-on-one meetings for instructions and feedback.

Tip 2: Better manage your time

Time management is sometimes an area of weakness for adults with autism, and this can be especially important in the workplace. If your boss gives you several tasks to complete, you might have a hard time prioritizing them, switching between them, or estimating how long each will take. In other cases, you might consistently struggle to make it to work on time.

Use time management tools

When it comes to time management, you can use all sorts of tools to stay on track.

Use a wall planner, notebook, or smartphone app to create a list of daily job duties. Include estimates on how long each task should take by asking your boss for guidelines or simply using your best judgment.

Set a timer. When you start a task, set a timer. When the timer goes off, it's time to switch tasks or take a short break. Use a timer that won't disrupt your coworkers, such as a cellphone set to vibrate. If you're heavily focused on one task and think it's best to stick with that task even after the timer goes off, check with your manager or coworkers.

Tip 3: Manage sensory issues

Many adults with ASD struggle with sensory issues. Certain types of environmental stimuli, including sights, sounds, and smells, can be overwhelming. So, in the workplace, anything from florescent lighting to ringing phones might cause discomfort and distract you from tasks. Noisy, fast-paced environments can be especially uncomfortable.

Ask for accommodations

Dealing with sensory issues in the workplace is easiest when your coworkers and supervisors are willing to accommodate your needs. And before they can accommodate your needs, you'll need to communicate those needs. Explain what sensations are distracting or uncomfortable for you and request reasonable changes. Perhaps you want to sit somewhere that's far from a blinking overhead light or in a space that's away from the smells of the breakroom. Headphones can be useful in managing auditory distractions.

Try mindfulness exercises

Research shows that mindfulness techniques might also be helpful in increasing sensory regulation, as well as easing stress and anxiety. When you're experiencing sensory overload or overwhelming stress, try out some mindfulness meditation exercises.

Focus your attention on some aspect of the present moment, such as your deep, slow breathing or a soothing mantra, or listen to one of HelpGuide’s audio meditations. Again, work with coworkers and supervisors to designate a space where you can take a break and practice mindfulness in peace.

Tip 4: Deal with anxiety

Research suggests that around 20 percent of autistic adults have a form of diagnosed anxiety disorder. Although most people experience some stress at work, overwhelming amounts of stress and anxiety can put you at a greater risk for burnout. This is when prolonged and excessive stress leads to symptoms such as lack of motivation, feelings of detachment, frequent headaches, and lowered immunity.

Anxiety can also affect your performance in other ways. For example, you might find that your anxiety makes it difficult to form sentences. This can worsen any existing problems with communication and affect your relationships with your co-workers. There are, however, plenty of things you can do to reduce stress and manage anxiety symptoms.

Managing your schedule, practicing relaxation techniques, staying physically active, getting enough sleep, and watching what you eat and drink can all help to ease stress and make you feel less anxious.

Tip 5: Keep work predictable

Individuals with autism often prefer to stick with predictable routines. You might feel overwhelmed when disorganization and surprises creep into your schedule. Jobs that require sudden changes in tasks or procedures can be stressful. Unfortunately, no matter what your job, anything from a power outage to difficult customers to shifting business priorities can disrupt your daily tasks.

Know what's expected of you

Take steps to make your workday more predictable. Start by asking for a comprehensive list of job duties before you take on a new position. For example, if you work at a library, ask for step-by-step instructions on organizing and reshelving returned books. If you know the deliverables and specific expectations, you're less likely to encounter surprises while on the job. Also ask your employer to give you as much of an advanced warning as possible for upcoming schedule and procedure changes.

Tip 6: Handle setbacks at work

Despite your best efforts, you're bound to experience a few setbacks in the workplace. Here are few common obstacles and ways to cope with them:


Discrimination occurs when employers, managers, or coworkers treat you less favorably because you're autistic. Some examples include:

  • Your hours are cut or you're terminated due to your ASD.
  • You're denied benefits or paid less because you're autistic.
  • You're harassed by coworkers.
  • You're passed over for promotion simply because of your ASD.

How you should handle the situation depends on the severity and frequency of the problem. First, consider talking to the individual or your employer about the incident. Perhaps the discrimination was unintentional and the person will apologize and agree to remedy the problem. However, note that even unintentional workplace discrimination is illegal in most places.

Depending on your country or state of residence, you may also have a legal right to receive reasonable accommodations to help you fulfill your duties at work. See “Get more help” below for resources to help you research your legal rights.

Overlooked for promotion

Being overlooked for a promotion can be a disappointing experience for anyone. It can rock your self-esteem and make you feel undervalued at work. But it's important to stay composed in the workplace. Take some time to write your feelings down or talk to a friend.

Once you feel more composed, request a meeting with your manager. Ask for feedback, including areas that you can improve in. Using that feedback, come up with concrete steps you can take to enhance your work performance. For example, you might need to contribute more to brainstorming sessions or increase your work output.

Difficulty fitting in

If you feel like you don't quite fit in at work, you might have to put in a little extra effort to make friends. Try to find common ground with the people around you. This can make conversation flow naturally and feel more enjoyable.

[Read: Adult Autism and Relationships]

What counts as common ground? Consider your hobbies, TV shows you've enjoyed, games you've played, or trips you've taken. You can also talk about work, but try not to dwell too much on any negative aspects.

Chronic stress

No matter what type of job you take, you'll experience some good days and bad days. However, if every day is stressful and leaves you feeling unhappy and overwhelmed, you should take steps to guard your mental health.

[ Read: Stress Management]

While looking for a new job is always an option, you can try these steps first:

  • If the stress is due to a social or environmental element, such as loud noises or distractions, ask your manager for additional accommodations.
  • If the stress is due to current job responsibilities, talk to your manager about reducing some of your daily tasks. Be honest and upfront about your reasons. And be specific about which duties seem the most overwhelming.
  • If the stress is due to factors out of the manager's control, ask if you can shift to part-time hours or work from home on certain days.

Tips for employers

If you're an employer who wants to make your workplace more comfortable for an employee with autism, there are several steps you can take. The first is to avoid these common misconceptions about autistic individuals:

Misconceptions about employees with autism
Misconception: Autistic employees are unemotional.
Some people with ASD may have trouble expressing emotions. However, they experience the same range of emotions as everyone else, including nervousness, anger, and joy.
Misconception: All employees with autism are awkward in social situations.
Some people with ASD have difficulty communicating or communicate in ways that are unfamiliar to neurotypical people. But this is certainly not always the case. You might even already have employees who have undiagnosed or undisclosed autism.
Misconception: All employees with ASD have extraordinary skills in a specific area.
You might meet autistic adults who are highly knowledgeable or skilled in certain areas, such as art or math. Research shows that 10 to 30 percent of autistic individuals have savant skills — exceptional abilities in a particular field. However, just like neurotypical people, each individual with autism has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Identifying and utilizing employee skills

It's important for you to identify an autistic employee's abilities, which might exceed those of your neurotypical employees. Again, each individual is different, but some people with autism excel in important areas like persistence, loyalty, and honesty. Others are extremely detail oriented or are creative thinkers who can offer your business innovative solutions. Some have sharp memories or high focus that lend well to technical tasks, such as coding.

If you think an autistic employee could be better suited for a different task, suggest a role change. For example, you might find that an employee is too anxious to contribute to brainstorming sessions, but they excel at tasks that require sustained focus.

Making accommodations

Employees with autism have plenty to offer your business. But, as an employer, you should be prepared to make accommodations when necessary.

Physical accommodations

Some examples of physical autism accommodations include:

  • Headphones to block out distracting sounds.
  • One-on-one meetings to reduce social anxiety and distractions.
  • Visual aids, such as task flow charts.
  • Window-side workstation or dimmed lighting for those with light sensitivity.
  • Workstation away from kitchens or breakrooms to avoid distracting smells.
  • Written step-by-step instructions for those with memory issues.

You might even find that it's best to allow an employee to work remotely if it improves their productivity and comfort. Check in with the employee periodically to see if there's anything you can do to enhance their work environment.

Work culture accommodations

Accommodating autism at work goes beyond simply adjusting the physical workspace. You'll want to foster an environment that prioritizes flexibility and patience, while demonstrating zero tolerance for harassment.

If you're having difficulty incorporating these changes yourself, you can look for support services that specialize in ASD. You might be able to find on-site job coaches to mentor the employee and offer you advice on supporting them.

Whether or not you bring in outside job coaches, talk to all of your employees about treating one another with respect and embracing different perspectives. Set an example by modeling prosocial behaviors yourself. By doing so, you'll create a space in which neurodiversity can thrive, and a business that benefits from a variety of skills and points of view.

Authors: Sheldon Reid.

      • References

        Neurodevelopmental Disorders. (2013). In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association.

        CDC. “Diagnostic Criteria | Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | NCBDDD | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 29, 2020.

        Sasson, Noah J, and Kerrianne E Morrison. “First Impressions of Adults with Autism Improve with Diagnostic Disclosure and Increased Autism Knowledge of Peers.Autism 23, no. 1 (January 1, 2019): 50–59.

        Cummins, Clare, Elizabeth Pellicano, and Laura Crane. “Autistic Adults’ Views of Their Communication Skills and Needs.” International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders 55, no. 5 (2020): 678–89.

        Hohn, Vanessa D., Danielle M. J. de Veld, Kawita J. S. Mataw, Eus J. W. van Someren, and Sander Begeer. “Insomnia Severity in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Associated with Sensory Hyper-Reactivity and Social Skill Impairment.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 49, no. 5 (2019): 2146–55.

        Ohl, Alisha, Mira Grice Sheff, Sarah Small, Jamie Nguyen, Kelly Paskor, and Aliza Zanjirian. “Predictors of Employment Status among Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Work (Reading, Mass.) 56, no. 2 (2017): 345–55.

        “New Shocking Data Highlights the Autism Employment Gap. ” Accessed November 5, 2021. National Austistic Society.

        Romualdez, Anna Melissa, Zachary Walker, and Anna Remington. “Autistic Adults’ Experiences of Diagnostic Disclosure in the Workplace: Decision-Making and Factors Associated with Outcomes.” Autism & Developmental Language Impairments 6 (January 1, 2021): 23969415211022956.

        Hebert, Karen R. “The Association between Sensory Processing Styles and Mindfulness.” British Journal of Occupational Therapy 79, no. 9 (September 1, 2016): 557–64.

        Nimmo-Smith, Victoria, Hein Heuvelman, Christina Dalman, Michael Lundberg, Selma Idring, Peter Carpenter, Cecilia Magnusson, and Dheeraj Rai. “Anxiety Disorders in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Population-Based Study.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 50, no. 1 (January 1, 2020): 308–18.

        Koutsimani, Panagiota, Anthony Montgomery, and Katerina Georganta. “The Relationship Between Burnout, Depression, and Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Frontiers in Psychology 10 (2019): 284.

        Gaigg, Sebastian B, Paul E Flaxman, Gracie McLaven, Ritika Shah, Dermot M Bowler, Brenda Meyer, Amanda Roestorf, Corinna Haenschel, Jacqui Rodgers, and Mikle South. “Self-Guided Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioural Practices Reduce Anxiety in Autistic Adults: A Pilot 8-Month Waitlist-Controlled Trial of Widely Available Online Tools.” Autism 24, no. 4 (May 1, 2020): 867–83.

      Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome – Article by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. (Indiana Resource Center for Autism)

      Interviewing Tips for Applicants with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) – Includes disclosure and preparation tips. (Job Accommodation Network)

      Youth, Disclosure, and the Workplace Why, When, What, and How – Tips on how and why to disclose your autism diagnosis. (U.S. Department of Labor)

      Ways Adults With Asperger's Syndrome Can Improve Their Social Skills – Tips for those with higher-functioning ASD. (Succeed Socially)

      How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination – Legal steps if you’re being discriminated against at work. (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

      Helplines and support

      In the U.S.: Call the Autism Society National Helpline at 1-800-328-8476 or find support groups at the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE).

      UK: Find help and support at The National Autistic Society.

      Canada: Find support and programs at Autism Canada or call 1-800-983-1795.

      Australia: Find adult community services at Autism Spectrum Australia.

      Last updated: December 28, 2022

      Autism and Employment - Child Mind Institute

      After working part-time her first two years of college, Debbie D. ramped up to full time along with her coursework the last two. But this admirable juggling feat left her so frazzled she would forget to eat, brush her hair or fill up her car’s tank — “I ran out of gas on the highway more than a few times.” So she couldn’t wait to graduate in 2007, thinking that once she was able to focus on her career, life would get easier. She was wrong.

      At 22, “I was in the midst of moving into my first apartment,” recalls Debbie, “learning how to pay my own bills, becoming familiar with a new routine outside of the structure of school, and learning what being a professional meant.” Her transition into adult life continued to challenge her executive function skills—things like planning, time management and multitasking. Meanwhile, her promotion to shift supervisor at the same human services company that had employed her throughout college exacerbated the social and sensory difficulties associated with her autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Four years after receiving her diploma, she says, “I’m still trying to learn the ropes.

      Despite her struggles, Debbie is beating some very dismal odds among the young ASD population on all points of the spectrum. Caregivers and self-advocates have long had grave concerns about what the future holds for the “great wave” of children and teens diagnosed with ASD, half a million and counting, who will be aging out of the educational and support system provided by the federal Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) over the next decade. They and their parents face the great uncertainty of adult services, post-secondary education and employment opportunities.

      Job challenges

      Their fears have been confirmed by a study, the largest and most definitive to date, examining how autistics do after they transition out of high school. The study shows that two years after graduation, half of ASD young adults have no paid job experience, technical education or college. Nearly seven years out, the numbers improve but remain bleak, with one out of three having had no paid work or post-secondary education. That’s a higher percentage shut out of the work world than for other disabilities, including the mentally disabled, with heightened risk of poorer outcomes for those from lower-income families and those with greater functional impairment.

      The study documents “what we have suspected for some time—that the young adult autism population faces significant, additional challenges to employment beyond those faced by many other disability populations,” says Scott Standifer, PhD, a clinical instructor in the Disability Policy & Studies office at the University of Missouri. While the numbers aren’t as bleak as the 80 percent unemployment rate often cited—without solid statistics to back it up—the study only represents those identified as on the spectrum in school special-education programs in 2000 and doesn’t reflect older adults who aged out before 2000. Had this group been included, the picture would certainly be bleaker.

      “Previous generations of children with autism did not usually have the kind of intensive, early interventions and supports that our current generation has experienced,” Standifer says. Unless they got these types of interventions from “inspired, contrarian parents”—as was the case with autism advocate Temple Grandin—they were likely misdiagnosed and institutionalized or dismissed as odd or “crazy” and allowed to slip through the cracks.

      Invisible disabilities

      It’s important to note that the study’s subjects span the spectrum, including those with an Asperger’s diagnosis. Just because an autistic person is highly verbal and less visibly disabled doesn’t mean they will “age out” of their impaired understanding of the unwritten rules of social engagement that allow for things like having conversations, being comfortable in a group, and reading social cues such as intonation and body language, all of which play such a large role in the work world.

      Temple Grandin was so concerned about unemployment among those less affected by their autism that she compiled a collection of essays by ASD individuals succeeding in a variety of fields for her book, Different … Not Less, to inspire young people. Grandin, who has likened her social communication challenges to being an anthropologist on Mars, told Salon she was motivated to do the book after “seeing way too many people with high functioning autism and Asperger’s not getting jobs and making transitions to adult life.

      “Having worked in a technical field my whole adult life,” she said, “I think, ‘Where are the Aspies?’ I think about people I went to college with, the geeky kids, different kids. One of the things hurting people with Asperger’s today is they’re not being taught social skills from old people on the spectrum who managed to be employed their whole life.”

      Trouble reading between the lines

      Debbie says that when she became a supervisor, her social deficits presented a huge learning curve. When you have trouble reading between the lines, she says, it’s hard to understand that “sometimes people will tell you things they don’t mean, or will leave information out that they really do need you to know, and that as the go-to person you will need to fill in the blanks.

      But the ramifications of her disability are much larger. “To lack the skills to contribute to the conversations that matter stands to negatively impact my career long-term,” Debbie says. “When you don’t ask the right questions in trainings, offer the knowledge and experience you have during meetings, or advocate your needs and concerns to those who can do something about it, your value starts to go away.”

      At the same time, Debbie says her unease with casual conversation leads others to misjudge her. They may first think she’s just extremely shy, then reserved and timid, and finally “odd, eccentric, reclusive and secretive.”

      Office misperceptions

      “When you don’t look someone in the eye, it’s perceived as arrogance or rudeness, not as evidence of the discomfort with doing so due to disability,” adds Lynne Soraya, who writes Psychology Today‘s Asperger’s Diary when she isn’t working for a Fortune 500 company, “When you don’t read someone’s subtle body language, it’s assumed that you’re uncaring or, worse, a bully who doesn’t know when to back down.

      An ASD individual’s honesty — some might call it the lack of a filter—is perceived as hostility, leading to exclusion from important meetings and activities like lunches and after-work drinks. This is where having a more invisible disability “creates unique difficulties,” Soraya says. “When you don’t fit someone’s stereotype of what having a disability looks like, a lot of the traits of a condition like Asperger’s can be perceived as character or moral deficits — or as just not trying hard enough.”

      Sensory challenges

      Yet sensory issues so common among those on the spectrum may be the most profound work obstacle for some. “Working in office buildings, amid the endless rows of cubicles, fluorescent lights and commercial copy machines can be deafening,” Debbie says. “I do not simply become distracted, I live in a state of distraction. I have become good at presenting myself as an attentive and focused employee, but the reality is, all I am actually doing is concentrating very hard on sitting still in my seat.

      She adds that her sensory issues can so overwhelm her, her executive function “goes out the window.” On the days when her focus is only on certain sensory input, she tries to break her day down in to smaller, more manageable segments. For instance, she may allot 30 minutes to read her emails, then an hour to attend a staff meeting. “But when I am focused on the flickering light on the other side of the floor,” she says, “I try to eliminate activities that I know can wait.”

      The rub: Debbie has come to realize that what she does when she is focusing — running her fingers along her files, perching on the edge of her seat, twirling her hair, standing up and sitting back down repeatedly — looks like inattention or distractibility to coworkers and supervisors. So on her busiest days, she tries to come in early or stay late “so no one can see me.”

      Soraya recalls one time when she was anxiously snapping her fingers, a coworker castigated her for being impatient when, in fact, it was a self-soothing “stim,” or stimulation, most often associated with things like rocking among less verbal autistics but seen in different forms on all points of the spectrum.

      Unpredictability creates stress

      Even when someone like Debbie is able to take some control over her environment, there’s often a lot of unpredictability in the workplace that can put a great amount of stress on executive function, notes Ron J. Steingard, MD, senior pediatric psychopharmacologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Someone with Asperger’s or autism may function very well when they develop a routine at work,” he says. “When something happens that wasn’t supposed to happen and the routine is changed or disrupted, they may have more limited ability to ‘flex’ with changing demands than others. This could lead to more frustration, withdrawal, and perhaps result in poorer performance on those occasions.”

      For Debbie, there is a sense that she’s chronically behind the curve.

      “I definitely lag behind my peers in terms of being independent and being a young professional,” she says. “I am not friends with anyone on the spectrum, and the friends I do have are growing up quicker than me. Most have gone on to very successful careers, have gotten married and are starting families. I’m still working on living on my own (paying bills, going grocery shopping and having a car). I live a few hours away from my parents, and they will be moving several more hours away next year. I try to rely on them as little as possible, knowing that next year that support system will be gone.”

      This is the third in a series on young adults with autism growing up and aging out. Part I discussed finding (and sometimes inventing) good supported living options. Part II explores going to college with autism.

      "They're just different." Why people with autism cannot find work in Russia and who helps them

      This text is part of the Such Cases project on the social responsibility of business. We want to tell you that a business can successfully develop, earn money and at the same time solve social problems. This is not an advertising section - we do not receive money from those we write about, and we ourselves choose what we consider important and correct and what is not.

      “I used to work for a company, but only for three months. I worked as a technician for setting up software systems in computers. Everything was fine there, only the dining room was not like that: you had to take food, but I didn’t. He brought with him. Therefore, the money [from the salary] was burned. Such rules. And that's it, and I decided to leave, ”says Igor. nine0005

      Igor is 24 years old, but he has only worked for a few months in his life. Not because he doesn’t want, can’t or doesn’t know how - after the ninth grade he graduated from college with a degree in Computer Systems and Complexes, and now he is studying at the Faculty of Public Administration at Moscow University named after S.Yu. Witte.

      Igor has autism, a developmental disorder that causes difficulties in social communication. People with autism have difficulty reading emotions and often develop repetitive behavior patterns. Violation of the usual course of things can provoke serious stress - where a neurotypical [neurotypical person] is devoid of mental features, intellectual and / or mental disorders. — Approx. nine0003 TD ] gets nervous, but will figure it out, a person with autism may not be able to cope, and sometimes even go into severe depression.

      Igor at work Photo: Such things

      Igor, for example, questions any food other than his mother's, and he cannot eat at all in the canteen: for a person with autism, the “wrong” dish is not just tasteless, but absolutely inedible. And the situation in which it must be eaten is hopeless.

      People with the same characteristics as Igor often graduate from universities and do not work anywhere, the Russian labor market is simply not ready for them. By law, people with disabilities are entitled to employment assistance and support at work. They are assigned a mentor - a person who will "assist in the development of work duties." nine0005

      “It's like an open fire”

      According to various estimates, there are between 1 and 2.5 million people with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] in Russia. How many of them work is unknown. Some hide their diagnosis, others, after graduating from college or even university, get a job as couriers. This happens not only in Russia. In the USA, for example, in 2017 only 14% percent of people with autism were employed, in the UK - 15%. The reasons were explained by Georgy Gunter, founder of DistingTec, a Russian company that employs people with autism in the IT field. nine0005

      See also "It's not just a buzzword, it's really profitable." Why should companies implement the principles of diversity and inclusion?

      According to Gunther, 60% of people with autism can work successfully if they are diagnosed early and develop emotional sphere, communication and independence from childhood. But in Russia, adaptation programs are mainly carried out by specialized charitable foundations, and they are far from being in every city.

      It is necessary to adapt not only people with autism, but also employers: to teach them to communicate on an equal footing, without ignoring the characteristics of the employee. The phrase “found a scythe on a stone”, for example, can unsettle such an applicant, he will take it literally and lose the thread of the conversation. But this does not mean that you need to forget about jokes, take on a mentoring tone, or, conversely, start fawning - the golden mean comes with practice, but Russian companies do not have it. People with autism sometimes consciously refuse interviews because they are tired of endless awkward and unsuccessful interviews, which often end in stress. nine0005

      “Our guys are just different. They are born without skin and perceive everything very sharply, - says Natalya Maryina, Senior Mentor of DistingTec. “Because of this sharpness, many go into themselves, stop perceiving [the world around them], because it hurts. It can be compared to an open fire - you put your hand into the fire, it hurts, and you will not come near the fire again.

      DistingTec helped Igor get a new job. Now he is an intern at a road safety system supplier. Igor looks at images from photo and video cameras and checks the data of the registrar - the make of the car, the address of the owner. The work is routine, but difficult and important: sometimes, in order to find an address, you need to delve into tax and cartographic databases, but each find corrects the errors of the neural network and adds a new skill to it. nine0005

      “I don't get tired of work, nothing irritates me. I love cars, I know them well. Our and foreign cars are one and the same. Ours are more interesting, foreign ones are better. There are no problems with the dining room here at all - you can bring your own food, ”says Igor.

      Natalya Maryina Photo: Such things

      Natalya Maryina — Igor's mentor, a link between employees with autism and a neurotypical team. She, along with other mentors, creates a "greenhouse environment" - one in which everyone can painlessly adjust to each other. nine0005

      “Igor is very often worried, he has increased anxiety. He is afraid to create problems. This is imposed and has grown out of relationships with society,” says Natalya. “But by indirect signs, we understand that the work satisfies him. He is in a positive mood, he communicates well. Even when the shift ends, he is ready to discuss work issues. He is very interested in everything. Our guys are motivated by the search for the right solutions, the opportunity to streamline something is very important for them.” nine0005

      People with autism have several strengths that are especially valuable for working in IT: photographic memory and attention to detail, the ability to concentrate well on workflow, clearly follow logic and rules, perform routine, repetitive tasks for a long time, for example, software testing or process data. They cope with routine work better than normotypes: it does not tire and does not burden, but calms.

      "Another type of perception"

      “Guys like to clean up,” confirms Anna Shapiro, HR Director of MVS Group. — We decided to offer them a job that requires attentiveness, perseverance, focus on details. Why did the idea of ​​employing children with autism come about? We work in the field of road safety, and the social mission is very close to us. At some point, we realized that we were ready to do much more for society: to support children with disabilities and offer them to get independence, their own earnings, and a new profession. We assumed that in our field, in terms of working with routine operations, colleagues with autism spectrum characteristics would be most comfortable.” nine0005

      MVS Group currently employs 11 people with autism. All of them are in “neurotypical” positions, which were previously filled by employees without special features. Their salary is also normal - no higher and no lower than everyone else.

      The company wanted to give people with autism a real profession and the opportunity to work in a team. All MVS employees learned how to communicate with interns, the company was consulted by the Vykhod, Our Sunny World, and Naked Heart foundations.

      “Before that, I did not communicate with people with ASD,” says Anna Shapiro, HR Director of MVS Group, “but if you know one person with autism, then it is not at all a fact that you know all the others. Someone is laconic, and you need to make every effort so that the person gets used to you and starts talking. Someone, on the contrary, is very verbose, and you can drown in this stream. It is important to understand that these are adults, you don’t need to lisp with them, and you don’t need to be afraid of them either. They just have a different type of perception. And some things can trigger a fairly serious crisis.” nine0005

      Igor's work schedule Photo: Such things

      In Anna's experience, a person with autism should not be asked abstract questions like: "What is the most important thing for you at work?" The lack of specifics confuses and unnerves them just as much as the abundance of sensory stimuli, for example, the mixing of artificial and daylight in the office, the sounds of working printers, the smell of cleaning agent that is used to clean the floor in the office every day, unexpected and uninvited touches. nine0005

      Anna Shapiro says that “adjustment” to these features did not become a burden for the company: “In an individual approach, there are no special costs, either financial or organizational. Someone wants to work in a separate office, someone in open space. If the company can afford it, it will be an additional comfort factor for the guys. It would be the same if we hired, for example, very creative people to work.”

      Adjustment is a mutually beneficial process. Once they get comfortable, people with autism rarely leave their jobs - in 8% of cases against a neurotypical 47%. Adaptation is often what many neurotypicals lack in a new job. For example, a few weeks in a small office instead of an instant immersion in the chaos of an unfamiliar open space. nine0005

      "It's just a mental breakdown"

      Interns with autism at the MVS Group have a separate office and their own lounge area. Their mentors from DistingTec work there - they explain their work tasks, breaking up new material into small parts (this way it is easier for a person with autism to perceive information), correct mistakes, help them orient themselves in a new space, and monitor their psychological state. According to senior mentor Natalya Maryina, the guys may not notice the approach of a serious crisis. The neurotypical will say, "I'm tired" and take a break, while the person with autism will start to fuss or, on the contrary, "freeze" and eventually burn out. It's the same with the team - potential conflicts are much easier to extinguish in the bud than to deal with depression or the consequences of a nervous breakdown later. nine0005

      Igor also started in a separate office, but rather quickly moved to a common room, he mastered the working algorithm, he follows his own “work / rest” schedule without reminders. He, according to him, is well: “Well, what? Everyone will gradually be here [in the common hall]. Yes, I love working with everyone. I like to communicate, I have good relations with my colleagues”. The mentor does not sit next to Igor in open space, but observes from afar: changing the location and normotypic is not easy, and doubly so for a person with autism. nine0005

      Natalia and Igor at work Photo: Such things

      Natalya Maryina is sure: without a mentor, a neurotypical team can quickly forget about the characteristics of an employee with autism and stop taking them into account. “For a person with autism, this is fraught with the fact that just a psychological breakdown will happen. Some of the guys can go into a stupor and look like a somnambulist. Someone may, on the contrary, get overexcited and start talking very loudly and waving their arms. In neurotypical people, this is not so pronounced, but in our guys it is hypertrophied, ”explains Natalia. nine0005

      DistingTec founder Georgy Gunter says that many people with autism are left without mentors because they hide their diagnosis - a psychotherapist plays the role of an assistant for them. This “best of the worst” is not a complete vacuum, but it is not accompanied by employment. Such a model is only 30% effective, because the psychotherapist does not work "on the spot": he cannot intervene in a conflict with a colleague or remind the boss about the characteristics of the employee.

      “A lot of people with autism survive this way now: they go to work, get stressed and somehow manage it with psychotherapists. And someone does not go - accumulates stress and drops out of the labor market. In the worst case, it ends up in the PNI, ”explains Gunter. nine0005

      “How are they employed? Nothing”

      According to the law, only people with disabilities have the right to employment assistance and support at work. But in the MVS Group, for example, only a part of the trainees with autism have it. Now the concept of assisted employment exists only in the form of local manuals in the regions. Such a methodology for IT companies is created by MVS Group, and Georgy Gunter, together with the Ministry of Social Development of the Moscow Region, is working on a large-scale guide on assisted employment of people with autism. nine0005

      Natalya Maryina explains this problem as follows: most employers test candidates for "creativity" and "independence" by asking abstract questions. Accepting that a person can not be creative and work well at the same time can be difficult. It turns out a vicious circle, because for people with autism, work is also a rehabilitation, which just helps to overcome communication problems.

      “Friends at work”

      “I have friends at work and at university. My friends are in the common room and in my office too. I communicate well with them, I have a common language with them. At work, we only talk about cars, but in our free time, we can talk about other things. My friend Mikhail does not know much about cars yet, I help him figure it out. I like that he is starting to get it. Now he is sick, we correspond with him,” says Igor. nine0005

      Igor Photo: Such things

      His mother Vera adds: Igor also mostly communicates with his classmates on the Internet. “They study on the weekends. Their communication is not like that of full-time students, who can go somewhere after class, take a walk. The people there are older, most of them already have families, they work. At the dacha, he has friends from the volleyball team, we have a team there in the holiday village. They do not spill water, they have trainings and games there. But it's summer. And Igor loves to communicate. nine0005

      MVS Group plans to hire people with autism for other positions. “This project is a small example of how we are moving towards tolerance and another world without restrictions. Despite the fact that we all have some peculiarities, we all must find our place in this world, work, our sense of social inclusion, necessity, the importance of what we do,” says Anna Shapiro.

      Even more important news and good texts from us and our colleagues - in the telegram channel "Takikh Del." Subscribe! nine0005

      autism people with mental disabilities social responsibility of business employment

      Hidden forces. About Employment for People with ASD

      Employees with autism spectrum disorders usually struggle to find even the most basic jobs, but have recently been seen as a valuable resource that HR professionals are after. Autistic people maintain a high concentration in monotonous work, are not distracted, are attentive to details, and may have extensive knowledge in a field of interest to them. Large corporations such as Microsoft and SAP and small businesses are increasingly hiring such employees. For their sake, you have to change corporate rules, abandon standard job interviews and appoint special assistants, but the result fully pays for the costs. A million-strong labor market on the sidelines of a progressive society - in the material of nine0005

      A valuable resource

      Most people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can't get jobs because they have communication problems, don't fit into corporate boundaries, and rarely make a good impression in interviews. According to National Autism Indicators, in 2017 in the US only 14% of people with ASD were employed, compared to 15% in the UK. But recently, employers have seen the strengths of autistic people and are now specifically looking for such candidates. They are favorably distinguished by high concentration and attention to detail, they do not get tired of doing monotonous repetitive work, they are good at finding patterns, so it is not surprising that they are becoming in demand in a variety of areas. nine0005

      ASD is a continuum of neurodevelopmental disorders that manifests itself in significant deficits in social communication and social interaction, as well as a limited (narrow) and repetitive repertoire of behaviors, interests, and activities. The main signs of ASD include, in particular, problems with understanding and evaluating the emotions of other people; difficulty understanding body language and other non-verbal expressions of others; difficulty making eye contact and using gestures. There are also stereotypes (or stims) - the constant repetition of the same gestures and movements, often with vocalizations. Echolalia, when a person completely repeats words heard somewhere while maintaining intonation. Strict observance of certain rituals, for example, strict adherence to certain routes, attachment to certain clothes. Hyper- and hypo-reactivity to certain sensory stimuli, such as intolerance to loud noises or avoidance of any touch. Violation of the functional language or refusal to use speech skills for communication (the same echolalia), there are also cases when speech is not used in principle. nine0005

      Such employees are also more loyal. According to SourceAbled, the autistic workforce has a turnover rate of 8 percent, compared to 47 percent for neurotypical employees. However, people with ASD can be more productive. For example, Rangam Consultants Inc., a consulting company participating in the Work for autism program. managed to cut costs for one of their clients by 7 percent by hiring people with autism spectrum disorders. “These people are loyal, diligent and don’t like to change jobs,” said Tim Weiler, director of consulting firm Towers Watson. A few years ago, his company hired 18 people with ASD to participate in a pilot program and has since been increasing the number of such employees in its staff, as it turned out to be commercially profitable. Emma Jones, a member of the National Autistic Society of Great Britain's employment team, also says that over the past few years they have been approached by more organizations that have learned that autistic people have strengths that can be used in business. nine0005

      Melanie Lugi, vice president of research at consulting firm Gartner, believes that over the next ten years, the introduction of new workflow algorithms will allow 350 million people with mental disorders to find work. “Company leaders who ignore change do so at their own peril and harm their organizations,” she said. Artem Novikov, a child psychiatrist at the Center for Curative Pedagogics, told that the balance of power in the labor market could change significantly in the near future. “In general, the mental state of both children and adults is changing, there are more and more neuro-atypical people. Due to the abundance of information flows, half of the people develop an attention deficit. It is difficult for them to concentrate for a long time, attention constantly jumps, in such a situation a person with autism may have an advantage, because if he is interested in the activity, he will work steadily, without being distracted by anything, without reading books about multitasking and articles on how avoid procrastination. He will just do it and wait for the rest,” he explained. nine0005

      Hope IT

      One of the first companies in the IT business to hire people with ASD was Specialisterne. This software testing and consulting company was founded in 2004 as a place where people with ASD can work (75 percent of employees there). “Employers don't hire people with autism because they're locked into a social paradigm where everyone is looking for happy, average employees, good team players who promote themselves,” says Torquil Sonn, founder of the company. As a result, talented employees are left without work, while jobs are vacant. Sonn sees his task as bridging this gap. He notes that while hiring people with autism goes against social norms in many places, company policies have already begun to change. However, do not expect quick changes, in his words, this process is more like "a marathon, not a sprint." It is worth noting that from the very beginning it was a commercial project and at the same time quite successful. nine0005

      In 2012, SAP India hired five people with ASD. The company acknowledges that they were inspired by the success of Specialisterne. Pilot projects showed that this model helps business development, so a new goal was announced - autistic people should make up one percent of all employees of the company, which is about 600 people. “Software testing requires a lot of precision and careful work, and it's also mind-bogglingly boring. It is important to do it right, but it is very difficult to hold attention long enough,” explains Robert Austin, professor of IT management at the Copenhagen Business School, explaining the success of autists in the IT sector. As the professor emphasizes, this is by no means a charity. nine0005

      Peter Brabazon, head of Specialisterne Ireland, recalled that the IT sector is projected to face a shortage of approximately 7,000 jobs, so people with autism, who tend to have trouble finding work, will be an extremely valuable resource for the industry. “They are often very good at spotting bugs and pay a lot of attention to detail. In our experience, they work extremely hard,” he says.

      Autists change the rules

      In order to use this resource, companies must first adapt corporate norms. SAP for Autistics has abandoned traditional interviews. Instead, candidates are given individual and team assignments to work on, followed by a five-week training period designed by Specialisterne. A significant part of the trainings is devoted to teaching social skills. For example, such questions are solved there: if the general director sent a letter to all employees by general mailing, is it necessary to respond in this case? Once approved, SAP Autism at Work participants are assigned mentors and colleagues to accompany them as volunteers. Neurotypical (not having identified mental disorders) employees at the same time take special courses on autism. nine0005

      Microsoft launched Inclusive Employment in the US in 2015. “Our goal is to help reduce unemployment among people with autism. They are underemployed and we have vacancies for them,” explained Neil Barnett, Director of Inclusive Recruitment. Autistic people are primarily recruited for technical positions, but positions in finance and marketing are also open to them. “When we started the program in 2015, our approach was simple. We've learned that the traditional hiring process, the front door at Microsoft, is a major hurdle for many talented candidates. So we changed the shape of the door so that candidates could showcase their talent,” says Barnet. nine0005

      • Photo:


      Microsoft has increased the interview time for candidates with ASD to five days. “We're really trying to get to know the person and let them show off their talent,” says Barnet. Like SAP, at Microsoft, employees with autism spectrum disorders have a community mentor who handles practical issues such as getting to work and a job coach. This is a colleague who accompanies a person during the work process, as a rule, they are selected from people who already have experience with autism. As a standard, they are attached for the first three months to help a new employee get comfortable, but the period can be extended. “We have employees who have retained their mentors for more than a year,” Barnet says. nine0005

      As Artem Novikov clarified, even relatively complex jobs like software testers can be done by people with poor communication skills who are not high functioning autistics. “If the work has a repetitive algorithm, even if it is complex, they can cope with it perfectly, but at the same time they will need assistants to accompany them to work or help with some everyday things like cooking or cleaning the apartment,” he says. Autistic people are also actively hired by Google, Hewlett-Packard, Salesforce Towers Watson, Ernst & Young and a number of other companies. Some of them have agreed to exchange personnel if the candidate is sufficiently qualified, but there is no suitable vacancy. nine0005

      Competitive advantage

      Autistic people, including low-functioning ones, find their way into small businesses. A classic example of a successful business that has provided jobs for people with ASD is Extraordinary Ventures (EV), founded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. EV co-founder Greg Ireland wanted a job for his son Vinnie, who was diagnosed with autism. Vinnie has a complex demeanor, he hardly speaks, but is amazingly productive when it comes to working in a well-structured environment. These features gave Greg Ireland and other parents the same idea for a new business. nine0005

      At EV, workflows were initially tuned to match the skills and needs of the people they plan to hire. At the start, the resources were quite modest, so we had to abandon projects that required a lot of money. We needed an easy-to-manage business that would allow employees to develop and quickly return the investment. The EV structure now includes its own laundry, bus cleaning service and a scented candle manufacturing facility. The work itself is very structured, all employees receive individual instructions, the progress of work is controlled by trainers who, if necessary, take on communication issues. nine0005

      • Photo: Extraordinary Ventures

      By 2018, EV already employed 50 people. The founders of the company admit that at first their employees, for most of whom it was the first job in their lives, were not very productive, but after a few months, after they got used to it, they showed an impressive result. “They are incredibly productive and reliable, so the business is doing great. So good that groups in Chicago, Michigan, New York, Massachusetts and Northern California are working to create their own business based on the EV model,” says Van Hatchell, managing director of the company. nine0005

      As Artem Novikov explained, if a person with low-functioning autism does something that is in the range of his interests, he approaches the matter with the highest quality. “At the same time, it is important for him to keep the same algorithm. For example, he will wash the car strictly in a certain sequence, but if he is not allowed to finish the work, he can protest, because the stereotypical ritual is violated, ”he said.

      • Photo: SunPork Farms

      Greg Ireland says that working at EV has opened his eyes to himself. “Thanks to this project, I saw that people do not want to be a burden. Work in our society is not just a way to earn a living, it is what defines a person's personality, ”he believes. This is not the only such example. Rising Tide was created in Parkland, specializing in car washing, where autistic people also make up a large part of the staff.

      In Springfield, Massachusetts, JE Robison Service, a premium car repair company, operates this way. “Because I am autistic, I know every little thing about Rolls Royce and Bentley cars, so people from all over the country come to me. So autism has become a significant competitive advantage for me,” says company founder John Elder Robison. He doesn't have high hopes for employment programs at large companies, which by themselves are unlikely to change attitudes towards autism, but he believes that the autism spectrum disorder community is able to provide itself with jobs. Global changes will not happen out of pity or sympathy, but because it is dictated by the global transformation of the labor market. And here small business can become the main catalyst. “This is the place where we can live,” says Robison. nine0005

      Definitely not charity

      Another industry that has discovered the benefits of working with special employees is agriculture. In Australia, SunPork Farms, a large livestock company with a forty-year history, and the Collaborative Research Center for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) have launched a joint Autism and Agriculture program. The ability to concentrate well on repetitive tasks proved to be extremely important when breeding pigs. The head of the company, Robert van Barneveld, is a professor who has studied autism for a long time. He set out to prove that autistic people are good at caring for animals. “Our goal is to measure the success of the program, get more adults into this segment of the business, and then bring our experience and expertise to other livestock sectors that can also benefit from a more diverse workforce,” he said. In his opinion, this project will increase the human resources potential of agriculture around the world. nine0005

      They also ditched the standard hiring rules of résumés and interviews and instead let them get to work straight away. “We give people the opportunity to show themselves, not talk about themselves,” says Autism and Agriculture project leader Dr. Kirsty Richards. In his opinion, the success of this program should encourage businesses to take a broader look at traditional recruitment and training of employees. On farms, mentors help autistic people. “Some of them were hard-core pig farmers of the old school, from whom no one expected them to take on such a role and take responsibility for their colleagues, who must be trained and made sure that everything is fine with them, including after work. . The mentors themselves experienced a huge transformation in the course of their work,” says van Barneveld. nine0005

      ASD workers work full time and receive a full salary that is not subsidized from the budget. According to SunPork Farms management, the benefits far outweighed the costs. “This program is extremely valuable for business. We've gained a competitive edge by bringing in new hires who may think differently, so it's definitely not charity,” van Barneveld said.

      Paul Shattuck, associate professor at the Autism Institute at Drexel University in Philadelphia, notes that communication problems cut off a large proportion of even high-functioning autistics. “More and more require that you successfully interact with other people. It is seen as part of the job and definitely turns off people with autism,” he says. Shattuck recalled that there are people who are ready to do work, even repetitive and monotonous, provided that the communication problem is solved for them, and they should not be neglected. nine0005

      00:06 — 11 December 2018

      Black dream

      Russians want to live well on oil money. Alaska has been doing it for 40 years

      Companies that have launched programs to hire people with ASD admit that this has improved the workplace and helped to open up neurotypical employees as well. Thanks to the new personnel policy, high-functioning autistic people, who, according to Novikov, would not even have received a diagnosis, were able to get a job. However, things weren't going well for them in the West either, for example, one of Hewlett-Packard's cybersecurity specialists worked in the kitchen at McDonald's a few years earlier. Almost all employees can have implementation problems. “The psychological characteristics of people, even neurotypical ones, are practically not taken into account in our country, which prevents many people from truly opening up and using their potential,” he noted. nine0005

      A number of companies have already appreciated the benefits of working with neuro-atypical employees, but so far the business is only taking initial steps in this direction.

      Learn more