I had the pleasure of moderating ALAG and the Autism Hub’s recent webinar on autism employment. Keynote speakers and three panellists provided informative insights, advice and experience.
From the webinar, several themes and observations emerged:
Clear instructions are enormously helpful for people on the autism spectrum. If you are unsure of what you should be doing, don’t be shy: ask your line manager.
Diagnosis disclosure is helpful for employers to make reasonable adjustments. But disclosure is a source of anxiety. At the webinar, many people had disclosed their diagnosis – with several recommending disclosure only after the interview and job appointment.
There are several schemes to help autistic people with their employment. Make use of them – including Access to Work and an autistic-run employability mentoring programme.
Workplace small talk was a recurring theme at the webinar. For autistic people, it can be unnecessary or uncomfortable. Coping mechanisms and approaches vary from attempting limited participation in small talk or raising concerns with their employer.
In the age of video calls for workplace meetings, there are now new concerns and etiquette for participation. Discuss these with your line manager, especially if you have worries about your camera being on during video calls.
The working environment and workplace culture can have a significant and varied impact on the autistic person’s experience and personal well being. If your workplace is making you unhappy, it might be time to consider looking elsewhere.
Nick Stone, Autism Hub peer support facilitator & ALAG member, September 2021