strengths of autism

4 Ways to Increase Clarity, Transparency and Innovation in your Workplace

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is just that, a spectrum.  And as such, it is not accurate to assume there are behaviors that apply to all diagnosed with it.  But if we look at characteristics common among those diagnosed with ASD, we are able to gain an understanding of it, and can work to make an environment where everyone can thrive.  

Here are 4 simple ways to make your office ASD-friendly that will benefit your entire organization:

  1. Clearly define expectations:  Often individuals with ASD are “black-and-white” thinkers.  They can’t always interpret more nuanced, passive communication.  Because of this, clearly defining what is expected and what success looks like, can benefit their effectiveness.  And by alleviating the ambiguity of expectations for all employees, businesses will find opportunities for greater accountability and positive outcomes.
  2. Create a less distracting work environment:  Individuals with ASD can be acutely affected by the work environment.  This means that florescent light, or subtly buzzing machinery, or an odd smell emanating from the break room can become a distraction.  A person on the spectrum will quickly and honestly communicate any of these distractions, while a neuro-typical worker will suffer from them in silence or in ignorance until their effects on productivity or mood becomes apparent.
  3. Create an opportunity for safe, clear, communication: ASD is often referred to as a social disability, and with it come challenges to navigating the social environment most take for granted.  By creating a workplace where everyone can feel safe communicating, all employees will feel more inclined to speak up, and know their communication will be received and appreciated. This will result in a transparent culture, a trusting workforce, and an increase in company loyalty. This can also result in more frequent procedural innovation.
  4. Focus on strengths:  Too often, we assess performance to improve upon weaknesses instead of working to reinforce strengths.  This creates an expectation on the employee to “fix” themselves so they more closely align with expectations.  By focusing on strengths, and areas where the employees excel, we can feel confident that the individual is in the right seat.  Instead of covering a weakness they are embracing a strength.

We can move beyond our notion  that individuals on the spectrum face work challenges that are unique only to them.  When we do, these simple changes can lead to opportunities for all of us to be more productive (and happier) members of our organizations.

 

 

Adding value...

As we put the finishing touches on Business Profiles and resumes for our most recent training cohort, I reflect on the team and what they and I learned in the course of their training. I learned a lot about the common and unique gifts, talents and skills that they each bring to the workplace.

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When asked to talk about himself, one trainee struggled to put two words together but could give an insightful, informative and thorough explanation when asked a question on a technical subject. Another struggles to define what would be “desirable” work for him but consistently chooses the option that challenges notions about those with autism so as to learn, grow and be a better version of himself. The impulse to finish others’ sentences can be difficult to control when your mind is moving at the speed of light. But it seems insignificant when that same compulsive nature is expressed in the desire to be early, loyal, dedicated and do the best work humanly possible.

While the team presented the results of their group project, I celebrated the value they discovered in themselves and eagerly anticipated sharing that discovery with business partners as we give each specialist the opportunity to add value in the workplace.

Speaking of adding value, many thanks to Midco for the value that they added to our training through their donation that purchased training materials.

- Margie Gray

A Blog Post from a Mom helping Mind Shift Change the World!

....As a mom, I will continue to focus on the “here and now”, but I’m more optimistic about his future and the prospects for employment.  If you were to ask my son about what he wants to do in the future, his latest response has typically been something like “I’d like to be famous for something someday and have a museum about my life.”  I can’t wait to find out what that is. 

Tremendously Informative Article about the State of Autism Employment

If you're interested in understanding the "landscape" of autism employment, particularly for young adults. I highly recommend this article (click article to redirect) by Abigail Abrams from the September 24th edition of the Washington Post.

The article does an excellent job of highlighting both the struggles that individuals deal with on a very personal level with the larger trends that are happening in the world of work. Those trends include what Mind Shift knows, people on the autism spectrum make great and productive employees!

Take a look!