Due to the major stereotypes surrounding people with autism, many prospective employers are wary about hiring somebody with ASD into their companies. Unfortunately, while the general perspective of people with autism among the public is changing, it is changing slowly, and there are still far too many people who see people with autism as being unfit to work or incapable of handling responsibility.
The fact of the matter is, though, that people with ASD have many hidden talents that people who can’t look past their general social awkwardness can’t see. In fact, adults with autism are often surprisingly adept at specific tasks, even though they may lack in others. Adults with autism might be incredibly skilled technicians or coders or artists or any number of other things. The fact is that while your average, neurotypical employee might be reasonably good at “A, B, C, and D,” an employee with autism might be prodigiously good at “A,” while still needing aid with the rest. Or, to put it another way, a neurotypical adult is a “swiss army knife,” while an adult with autism is a “specialized tool.”
It may take some work finding a place for an employee who is strictly a specialist rather than a generalist, but if a place can be found for such a person there are many benefits to be reaped. One might find projects being finished more efficiently and at a faster rate. Or that new solutions are being proposed to old problems.
These are not the only benefits of hiring somebody with ASD. One of the big issues plaguing many employers when it comes to hiring new, younger talent is that many businesses see young adults as “flight risks.” They see young people as being more likely to stay for a few months before moving on to another job, meaning that the company has lost time, money, and resources that they put into training an employee that didn’t even stick around after the training was finished
The thing about many adults with autism, though, is that, when they are treated properly, they are fiercely loyal. This comes from a combination of factors, such as how they tend to detest change, how sensitive they are to external factors that bother them, and how rare it is for them to find themselves in situations they are comfortable in. Therefore, when they find themselves in a situation and among people they are comfortable with, they cling to it fervently and loyally. The fact is, people on the autistic spectrum are often so averse to change that it’s more stressful to leave a job where they have regular work for the frightening unknowns that would come with leaving it. Likewise, if the job is also a place where they are comfortable and feel valued and safe, they will have little desire to leave at all for probably a significant length of time.
The one hurdle to people hiring adults with autism is that if they are to perform their duties as efficiently as they can, and to engender the kind of loyalty described above, the employer has to be willing to make sure that their prospective employee is reasonably comfortable. This is not, however, as big a deal as it sounds. Adults with autism are less demanding than you might think. They aren’t likely to demand crazy payment or extraordinarily long breaks or that they get their own private office or anything like that. More likely, they’ll ask for something like a slightly laxer dress code so that they don’t have to wear fabric that irritates them. Or possibly the ability to wear noise-cancelling headphones if there are noises that are bothering them. Or maybe just not being accosted if they take a few extra short bathroom breaks to decompress.
Most importantly, though, adults with autism like to know that they are valued. They crave validation, and that is not a particularly difficult thing to grant them. Simply telling them “good job” when they do well or occasionally letting them know that you are “glad they’re here” goes a very long way towards letting an adult with ASD know that they are valued in their position. They don’t need a kiss and a cuddle every twenty minutes to feel validated. Simply telling them they did well at the end of a work day is enough. And frankly, that isn’t very much to ask.