I have a passion for possibilities, specifically, the possibilities that exist for autistic people to reach their full potential through meaningful employment opportunities. Society is generally set up to cater to neurotypical people. Employers gain tremendously from learning what accommodations can be made for autistic people because, in the right environment, they can become very productive employees and add powerful value to all types of businesses.
By employing a person on the autism spectrum, you will gain the leading edge on your competitors because of the unique abilities autistic people possess. It is one of my goals in life to facilitate successful collaborations between employers and autistic employees.
My employment story has been ‘creative’ in nature, both literally and figuratively speaking. Due to medical conditions and sensory issues I’ve juggled since my youth, I’ve largely sought to create my own income opportunities through publishing books (five to-date); working as an author mentor to aspiring authors; launching and running a magazine (and the social media channels that go with it); qualifying as a dog massage therapist and starting my own clinic; and offering a consultancy service to business, schools, government and parents through my Ask The Aspie brand.
Underpinning everything I do is the belief that I can do it. Mindset is an incredibly important part of success and having a positive, determined mindset is what I utilise to approach work and life in general.
Due to my sensory problems, and other medical issues, working in a standard office environment can be challenging for me. Running my own businesses allows me the ability to set up my office with minimal lighting and noise. These two factors are crucially important for creating an environment where I can be productive and healthy. Having said that, if these simple accommodations could be arranged, I would happily work for a company or organisation on a part-time basis to bring my skills and abilities to that company for their benefit.
Employers have a lot to gain from employing people on the autism spectrum. To gain these benefits, spending time asking autistic employees what they need in order to thrive in the workplace, ensures nothing will get in the way from them succeeding and bringing high levels of productivity to the role. Although there are commonalities such as sensory issues, the way these present in each person differs, so it’s essential to ask the employee what they need rather than making assumptions.
In general, though, a caring (and smart) autistic employer would provide a quiet place for autistic people to go for their breaks, where no socialising was expected, no small talk, and no noisy activities were going on. It would truly be a room where a person could eat their lunch and engage in their own quiet activities such as listening to music with headphones or reading a book. The standard expectation that workplace breaks are a socialising festival is part of the difficulty of going to work outside the home for people on the autism spectrum, because the much-needed break from socialising is not possible.
The expectation to socialise at work is not spoken about explicitly but it is a given at most organisations, so, additionally, if the pressure is off to make small talk during work activities also, that will be of great help to autistic employees. Fatigue from socialising, over time, can result in sick leave absences and decreased productivity. This could be avoided by the appropriate accommodations mentioned above.
To conclude, on a personal note, I’m open to all possibilities because life is amazing and we can all benefit from opening our hearts and minds to infinite possibilities both at work and in life.
Have a powerful day.