We know that autistic people can make outstanding employees in the workplace, And given the current awareness of autism, companies are starting to recognize this potential. But recent research shows that many autistic Individuals in the workplace still face hurdles, with most choosing to quit their job entirely. So what’s going on here?
The truth is there are a few key areas that can make it more difficult for autistic people to thrive in the workplace, according to research on people’s experiences.
Difficulty following rules
For many autistic Individuals, a set of regular rules can be of great relief. However, when those rules are suddenly changed or made unclear, it causes profound anxiety. Without a clear set of stable rules and guidelines, it can be challenging for autistic individuals to carry on with the pace of work or adjust to new requirements.
The main reason is that autistic Individuals process information more at a slow pace than others, meaning it can take them longer to learn new tasks or accommodate new expectations. According to an Interview with Diane, an autistic client for our research, she notes that “If something doesn’t make sense for me, It’s hard to follow through.” Diane adds that “The thought of sticking to rules that I think are flawed gives me huge anxiety.”
Autistic people have trouble understanding body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal cues. This can make it difficult for them to build relationships with their co-workers or adequately communicate their feelings, leading to misunderstandings and difficulty fitting in with the team. In an interview with Joe, an autistic individual working in the IT industry, he notes,
“I find it quite difficult when other people don’t understand me; I like to get the point as quickly and succinctly as possible. Joe elaborates on his experience by saying, “It’s tough when I have to explain how I feel. I’ve been pulled up about it and feel so frustrated. I have no desire to socialize with colleagues after work”.
How Autistic People Can Better Navigate Their Careers
Overall, it’s clear that Autistic people can face many challenges in the workplace, but this doesn’t mean they should be excluded from working. It just means that employers need to take extra steps and measures to ensure their employees have the support and understanding needed to thrive.
Some approaches to improving an autistic person’s experience in the workplace include ensuring that rules are clearly elaborated, providing clear requirement and timelines for tasks, and allowing autistic Individual to ask questions if they need further clarification. Additionally, if one is Autistic, they could consider applying to companies focused on creating an autism-friendly workplace. This means a company is more likely to understand the challenges of being autistic in the workforce and create an environment that facilitates success for everyone.
Ultimately, it’s worth remembering that autistic people possess unique skills and perspectives that can benefit any workplace—finding ways to support and encourage autistic people in the workplace is essential for creating an inclusive and prosperous working environment.