Individuals who are on the autism spectrum are sometimes marginalised from seeking out employment opportunities. However, the qualities of autistic people can hugely benefit companies, often and especially in the field of information technologies. The UK tech firm Auticon embraces variety and diversity in a workforce and have created an autism-friendly work environment.
Auticon is an award-winning IT and compliance consulting business, whose consultants are on the autism spectrum. The company was founded in Germany by Dirk Muller-Remus, whose son was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. As his son grew older and experienced a lack of employment opportunities, he believed in creating as many jobs as possible for autistic people. As a result, Auticon was formed to create employment opportunities in various technology segments that accommodate the needs of autistic people. Auticon accommodates the needs of autistic people by providing tailored support through job coaches which focus on every employer’s individual needs and qualities. Currently, Auticon has provided 103 jobs for autistic people, making two thirds of their employed staff on the autism spectrum.
People with autism struggle disproportionately to find employment, with just 16% of autistic adults estimated to be currently in full time employment (The National Autistic society, 2017). The statistics haven’t changed over the last decade, shedding light on the change that needs to be implemented to address the autism employment gap.
Clinically, we see Autism as a difference, not a disorder. To elicit the skills and reduce the difficulties of a person on the autistic spectrum, appropriate adjustments to a working environment might include specialist headphones or adapted lighting to help with sensory issues, a greater focus on emails and written communication rather than telephone conversations, and even education of co-workers to promote understanding of how someone on the autistic spectrum might prefer to interact with colleagues.
Ultimately, the qualities of a great many autistic people can be a huge advantage in the workplace. It is vital to ensure that autistic people receive support and employment opportunities in order to live a fulfilling life. This, in sum, will be beneficial for people with autism, the economy, and the society.
By Friedrich & Joe Rehling