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Mything Busting – Autism Edition

In: Business

The employment rate for autistic adults in British Columbia makes for depressing reading. A recent study found that almost 80% of the province’s 50,000 adults with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis were either unemployed or underemployed. There are many reasons for this, from biassed hiring processes that favour neurotypical employees to subconscious negative stereotypes that pervade most of society. These stereotypes are born out of a few common myths about autism, which when examined can be easily busted. 

Myth 1 – Autism is a new condition

The first common myth about autism is that it’s a relatively new phenomenon. While it’s true that as a result of many autism awareness campaigns that more people know about the condition, it was actually first officially documented as early as 1943. However, because it’s a difficult condition to diagnose accurately, many individuals who are on somewhere on the spectrum never received an official diagnosis and were labelled as weird or socially maladaptive. As scientists have researched the condition more, diagnoses are more common and there is more of an understanding of what autism is (and what it isn’t). 

Myth 2 – All autistic people are the same

Another common misunderstanding about autism is that many people look for a series of common traits as they would with other mental health disorders like ADHD or bipolar. However, there is a famous saying about autism: once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. The key word that is often missing is the word spectrum, as it defines a broad range of behaviours and characteristics that fall under the autistic umbrella rather than a narrow set of traits. It is true that there are some common signs of autism that you’ll see in many autistic individuals, but it’s a mistake to think that anyone truly understands autism in a broad sense, and an even bigger mistake to make judgements about what an autistic person can and can’t do solely on the basis of their diagnosis. 

Myth 3  – Autistic people aren’t employable

As a result of this type of overgeneralisation and judgement about the abilities of autistic people, there exists a common myth that autistic people aren’t capable of coping in the workplace. While this can be true for some autistic people in some workplaces, the truth is that with the right support, many autistic jobseekers can find meaningful employment that plays into their strengths. The global pandemic has introduced everyone to the idea of remote and flexible working, and many autistic workers thrive in situations where their social interactions are limited and constrained to concrete topics. The rise of technology plays into many autistic strengths such as an eye for detail, complex problem solving and an ability to concentrate on one task for extended periods of time. It’s not a question of whether autistic people are employable, but what companies will be first to realise the benefits of hiring them. 

How to be a myth busting employer

One of the more interesting employment trends through the pandemic happened at some of the biggest corporations in Canada. Companies like Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and SAP have all set up dedicated autism hiring programs as a way of gaining a competitive edge. They are tapping into the high levels of concentration, excellent attention to detail and out of the box thinking that many autistic workers bring to the table, along with a whole host of other company wide benefits. Bringing these talented workers on board in Vancouver can be tricky, which is why you should consider getting professional autism employment support

An autism talent management agency will help you bust myths by helping you with all parts of the hiring process:

  • Recruitment – any good autism talent management agency should have numerous possible candidates on their books when you first talk to them, saving you the hassle of advertising and filtering through multiple applicants. 
  • Training – you can also expect that any autistic candidate will have been through both job specific training for your field as well as general training about how to cope and thrive in the workplace. The autism talent management agency can also provide training for your staff to bust any myths and misconceptions that they might have. 
  • Onboarding – once you’ve chosen the best candidate for your company, you can expect autism employment support for the first few months to make sure the hire is a success. This might be regular feedback meetings, discussions about accommodations or further training to move your company towards autism acceptance.

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