There’s one market segment of potential employees in the United States that often go unnoticed by employers, and that’s odd because this segment of future employees/people is the third largest in the nation.
I’m not talking about a particular race, gender or age group, but actually those people who have a disability.
According to the Department of Labor, this segment of potential employees is about 54 million strong. What a wake-up call! These are people employers really should get to know.
As we start the New Year, I’d like to place focus on a particular disability: autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
ASD is perhaps a rather unknown disability and has been classified under several names in the past such as Asperger Syndrome or Autistic Disorder. ASD, as the name implies, is a broad spectrum of associated issues including intellectual, motor coordination or attention.
Many people with ASD have exceptional abilities in visual, music and academic skills. Approximately 40% of those with ASD have average to above average intellectual abilities.
Many persons with ASD have a deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world, which can certainly be valuable to any employer wishing to diversify work staff in efforts to develop new ways of doing things.
On the other hand, those with ASD may exhibit personality characteristics that are “socially awkward or not adhering to social norms,” as described by Karen Brouhard. In other words, a person with ASD may have difficulty engaging with others socially. Be that as it may, working out ways to integrate this type of individual in the workplace is imperative, or we will miss out on contributions they can make.
Here are suggestions for accommodating any person who has ASD, as well as other types of similar disabilities.
- A person with ASD may have difficulty in social settings, so try other ways than an interview to measure abilities related to the position.
- Make sure instructions are concise and specific.
- Create a work environment that is well-structured.
- Clarify expectations of the job.
- Provide sensitive but direct feedback.
- Provide training and monitoring.
- Provide a mentor in the workplace.
- Be aware that certain actions, such as direct eye contact, can overload sensory systems within a person with ASD.
- Provide adaptive technologies.
For further information, please see
- Autism Speaks: 10 Years of Progress, A Lifetime of Hope
- Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Work Place
Further resources for ASD:
Beneficial Activities for Kids with Special Needs
Home Safety for Kids!
23 Ways to Communicate with a Non-Verbal Child
Routines and Children with Disabilities
Anxiety and Autism
Adapting the Childcare Environment for Children with Special Needs
Disability Remodeling for the Home
Financial Assistance for Accessibility Home Repairs and Modifications
A Guide for Disabled Homebuyers
David Spears is a member of the Workforce SolutionsNavigator team for the Texas Gulf Coast Region. Combining training and education to real world examples, David brings personal and professional experience with disabilities to the table in order to help job seekers with disabilities realize their potential. David has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration with over 20 years of experience in the business world.
2 thoughts on “Always Unique, Totally Interesting, Sometimes Mysterious”
Mr. David, this topic is a great one and a well needed eye opener for me. Besides the 54 million strong… I was also impressed by Karen Brouhard statement – “Those with ASD may exhibit personality characteristics that are “socially awkward or not adhering to social norms.” We are so quick to call-out the term “crazy” as a way of accepting someone’s unclear behavior. Going forward it is important that we think twice before placing labels to satisfy our own awkwardness. Thank you for sharing your experiences. This article was well received 🙂
Best of Days,
People with disabilities cross all patterns that make people unique (race, religion, gender, etc.), so we should tap into that new market and see the benefits of a diversified work staff.
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