Autism is a condition that is often misunderstood by the general public. We refer to an ‘autism spectrum’ because the attributes, impairments and level of functioning of an individual cases vary widely. Many individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (which includes Asperger Syndrome) are able to sustain employment and some are very high achievers, holding senior positions in large companies.
Many individuals with autism have specific skills sets and personality traits that are extremely beneficial to employers. Sometimes these are related to their special interests, where the individual may have spent many hours over many years researching, learning and engaging in activities relating to their specific areas of interest and therefore have an astounding wealth of knowledge in that area. Some individuals on the autism spectrum have great attention to detail and excel at roles requiring this skill, others are able to sustain attention on repetitive tasks for long periods of time and would be an asset in roles requiring sustained concentration.
Common personality traits include a preference for routine, (which means good time keeping and attendance), lack of interest in purposeless social interaction (so less time gossiping and more time working) and using literal language (less likely to give mixed messages).
Individuals with autism may need adaptations in the work place, but often small adjustments such as avoiding figurative language, providing clear explanations and setting clear tasks and work plans are all it takes. A small investment can reap great rewards when employing someone with autism.