In an age where there is a national autism spectrum disorder month in October across Canada and there is a more open acceptance of mental illness, it seems incredible that almost 80% of autistic adults across British Columbia are either unemployed or underemployed. It shows that as a society, there is still a long way to go before full social inclusion can be achieved, and autistic jobseekers still fight barriers like negative stereotypes and application processes that are heavily biased towards neurotypical workers before they even get to grips with the challenges of their chosen fields.
Strengths Of Autism In The Workplace
These shocking employment numbers reflect the misconceptions that many people have that autistic people aren’t able to function in a neurotypical workplace. However, with the right supports, companies across Vancouver can discover some of the many benefits of hiring autistic workers:
- Attention to detail – the old adage says that once you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person. This means that each autistic jobseeker will possess a different set of characteristics, but many autistic adults have an excellent eye for detail in their work. This allows them to master a repetitive task and engage in quality assessment work with ease.
- Extensive concentration – another common trait among autistic employees is an ability to concentrate for long periods of time, often putting their neurotypical colleagues to shame. For autistic workers with high support needs, this allows them to work on repetitive tasks with increased independence, while for those with low support needs, this concentration allows them to work on a daily checklist of tasks.
- Creative thinking – finally, it’s recognised that autistic workers see and understand the world in different ways to their neurotypical peers. In the workplace, this means that they are able to see new solutions to existing problems, as well as ways to streamline inefficient processes and systems.
Career Choices For Autistic Workers
Given these strengths, and many others, autistic job seekers should be able to have their pick of fields to choose. However, some career choices align better with the most common autistic traits, and companies in these fields are a better place to start the job seeking journey:
- Technology – coding and systems analysis are two of the most popular fields for autistic workers to succeed in. Indeed, major corporations like Microsoft and SAS have started hiring autistic workers to tap into the creative thinking and high levels of concentration. Coding represents an opportunity for low support needs workers to put their creative sides to use, while high support workers can succeed in debugging and systems testing roles due to the requirement for concentration and an attention to detail.
- Accountancy – any sort of accountancy position fits well with autistic workers who have an excellent eye for detail and who are able to follow a complex series of rules to the letter. There are many accountancy positions that require limited interactions with clients which removes the potential for social misunderstanding.
- Research – autistic individuals often succeed with behind the scenes research work as it allows them to engage and become fascinated with a particular area of interest, and they are able to unleash their ferocious research skills and brainpower on finding everything out about a specific subject. It also requires a logical process to present their findings which is another common trait among many autistic workers.
- Logistics – jobs with any company that require help with shipping and logistics will be well suited for low support needs individuals. These positions require flexible and creative thinking within a firm set of boundaries, as well as the ability to concentrate on the small details for extended periods of time.
- Animal work – many autistic workers with medium and high support needs often find interacting with strangers tricky, but they often bond well with animals who appreciate a more simple approach to relationships. This makes autistic individuals great as vet assistants, groomers or trainers and they will find satisfaction in the predictable nature of working with other people’s pets.
Getting Professional Help Learning how to find a job for asd with autism is an exercise in frustration. The barriers that they face from reading and decoding the job advert through navigating the face to face interview provide multiple opportunities to give up or fail. This is when getting professional help is key, and signing up with an autism talent management agency is a great way to remove many of these barriers. These organisations will support each autistic worker by providing job training, finding compatible companies to apply to and advocate for the autistic jobseeker as they negotiate their accommodation in their new field.