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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Free Asthma and Allergy Training Modules

Before Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month ends, I wanted to post links to free training modules on asthma and allergy. Below you will find a few that are all self-study which you can review on your own time. I included one for teachers and parents that focus on created a lesson plan for children which would be great for child with and without asthma and allergy issues.

Asthma and Nutrition Training Module– Developed by the University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center, this course provides participants information on asthma and nutrition that may be used in assessing and counseling clients. This is a self-study module in a PowerPoint format with audio capture.

Asthma on Wheels Teacher Training Module– Created through the Mecklenburg County Health Department Asthma Education Program. This teacher training module provides a lesson plan to students with discussions of asthma and learning activities and list ways to educate students about asthma being a controllable condition in which students can live actively healthy lives.

Asthma Program- Indiana State Department of Health– Website includes information and resources for healthcare providers including a printable asthma medication poster and an asthma guideline implementation steps and tools.

Continuing Education for Healthcare Professionals– A free online course presented by Cross County University. This course focuses on information on assessment and monitoring, control of environmental factors, medicine management and patient education.

Food Allergy School Staff Training Module– A 30 minute module is designed to assist the school nurse in staff training and increase food allergy awareness for all staff including teachers, administration, aides, specialist and coaches.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

national disability monthNational Disability Employment Awareness is recognized each October to highlight the workforce contributions of people with disabilities.

Facts:

  • Only 20 percent of the labor force with disabilities are employed.
  • 59% of the people with hearing impairments were employed.
  • 41% of people with visual disabilities were employed.

16% of people with severe disabilities work full-time.

Check out this infographic!

disability employemnt

What can you do in your organization to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

Train frontline staff on the facts

Reach out to local media

Proactively recruit people with disabilities

Review company policies and procedures

Conduct training for supervisors on understanding their role in fostering an inclusive workplace culture

Participate in a disability mentoring day

Conduct a training on disability history.