Many studies have shown that people on the autism spectrum, while highly functional and capable, struggle to find employment. A Drexel University study led by Anne Roux of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute in Philadelphia, showed that 58% of young adults with autism are unemployed. As the number of autism diagnoses grows, so too does the unemployment rate for those individuals. Today, many companies are taking a stand to hire more people with autism due to the several advantages they bring to the team.
Large firms such as EY (formerly Ernst & Young), an accounting firm, have developed pilot programs in order to recruit individuals with autism. This is part of an initiative to create a more “neurodiverse” workforce. Individuals with autism are eager to work and live independently; they may simply need a different approach in the interview and training process. Individuals on the spectrum have several highly valued technical skills that employers like EY and several technology firms seek.
EY’s pilot program has led to the hiring of four employees who work as accounting support associates. The company adjusted its training and onboarding processes to be more welcoming for those on the spectrum. In addition to regular training, EY provided hands-on training during which the new employees could watch work take place in real time. Employees at Ernst & Young credit the program with forcing supervisors to take a neutral perspective and question their management and communication techniques to determine if they were effective.
Several technology companies have also adopted neurodiversity programs in order to hire more employees with autism. SAP, a global independent software manufacturer based in Germany, has hired over 100 individuals with autism to fill several positions, including software testing and analytics. Microsoft and HP Enterprises have also taken such measures.
Why do those with autism struggle to find employment?
As young people with autism enter adulthood, they lack resources that help them adjust to society. Services aimed at helping children overcome deficits in communication and issues with social skills simply become less available as students age.
It is worth considering that 50,000 people on the spectrum enter adulthood each year. For many, face-to-face job interviews are challenging. Those who are not familiar with autism may not comprehend certain behaviors that are more common among those on the spectrum than those who are not. Behaviors that may seem “odd” to the interviewer may dissuade the interviewer from offering an opportunity to an individual with autism.
There are many hurdles that must be overcome to enable those with autism to enjoy full time employment and productivity. If you believe that you have been discriminated against due to your autism spectrum disorder, you should know that you are protected under federal and state laws against discrimination. Attorneys Lisa Bertini and Andrea Ruege work diligently to protect your employment rights. Speak with us today by calling (757) 222-9165 or contact us online to discuss your workplace discrimination case.