Strategies In Training Autistic Employees

Researchers estimate around 50,000 young people with autism turns 18 every year. Is your organization read to train these new employees?

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder that includes a wide range (spectrum) of skills, symptoms and levels of support. Although no two people are alike, characteristics may include ongoing challenges with social skills that include difficulty and interacting with others. For those on the higher end of the spectrum, characteristics may include:

  • ·         A normal to high intelligence and good verbal skills
  • ·         Trouble understanding what someone else is thinking or feeling
  • ·         Difficulty understanding non-verbal cues
  • ·         May suffer from anxiety or depression
  • ·         Strong long-term memory
  • ·         May have executive functioning difficulties 
  • ·         Being highly creative
  • ·         A high sense of justice and fairness

It is important to note that autistic employees vary in the workplace. Younger employees may have received a diagnose very early their childhood while those in their 30’s to 50’s were more than likely diagnosed as adults. Many in fact may not realize they are autistic due to lack of information during their formative years. This rings true especially for women who did not fit the typical stereotype of autism.

Challenges Training Autistic Employees

The use of idioms, sarcasm, irony, metaphors and figure of speech may be difficult since most are literal thinkers.

Due to sensory sensitivities, harsh lighting and certain smells may be intolerable.

May feel anxiety working with groups during an activity, which includes role-playing and case studies.

Discomfort with noise

Coping with the unpredictable

Strategies In Training Autistic Employees
  • ·         Structured breaks- give notice in advance
  • ·         Give visual instructions. Verbal instructions are difficult to remember
  • ·         Do not assume that the employee is not listening or paying attention
  • ·         When explaining, use explicit and concrete language
Accommodations

A diagnosis of autism also qualifies under the American Disability Act (ADA).  While some may not want to disclose their diagnosis, It’s always a good idea to make sure each person is comfortable in the training. The following are some suggestions:

  • ·         Provide advance notice of topics to be discussed if possible
  • ·         Allow employees to use items to hold such as hand-help squeeze balls 
  • ·         Allow use of a noise-cancellation headset
Tips to Remember

Some autistic employees have a history of being bullied, which for many have carried over into the workplace.  Set rules in the beginning of the training that all participants should be respected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: I Am Aspien Woman

 

I Am Aspien Woman: The Unique Characteristics, Traits and Gifts of Adult Females on the Autism Spectrum.
Tania Marshall.
July, 2015.
150 Pages.
The number of articles written on Asperger’s syndrome and people living on the autism spectrum has mushroomed over the last few years. Most articles and research studies focused on the typical characteristics of males, that is, until now. New evidence shows that women diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are quite different than their male counterparts. Females for instance are more likely able to imitate social skills and are better at masking certain traits and characteristics. As a result, many been misdiagnosed thus leading to years of depression, anxiety and psychiatric visits.
One author hoping to shed more light on the subject is Tania Marshall, a psychologist and author with extensive training and experience in neuro-developmental conditions including Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD and sensory processing disorder. Based on her professional practice experience, anecdotal evidence, and current research, Ms Marshall weaves a story of validation, self-discovery and self-awareness through a visually stunning book.
The book is full of personal stories and quotes directly from Aspien Women with added commentary from parents, former teachers and therapist. The book is divided into 3 sections. Part one describes the various characteristics and traits. Part two introduces the reader to “real-life Aspien women superhero mentors” including Dr. Temple Gradin. Each mentor describes their strengths and top tips.
The author successfully accomplishes her goal in introducing through this book, the characteristics, traits and gifts of adult females on the spectrum. Ms. Marshall’s book is an excellent book for anyone wanting to learn more about Asperger’s from the perspective of women on the spectrum. While the book on the surface seems to be intended as a form of self-discovery, I equally recommend this book to parents, educators and employers. I do believe this book is only the start of a conversation that is long over-due.

To learn more about I am Aspien Woman and Ms. Marshall’s additional resources and information, I have included the following Resources:

Amazon
Facebook Page
Tania Marshall’s Website
Aspian Girl Blog
Tania Marshall on Twitter