NPR’s “All Things Considered” recently aired a story on employers who find that employees with autism are some of their best workers.
The story opens with information from a Drexel University study from 2015 on how young adults on the autism spectrum handle the transition period between high school and what they choose to do next. The study’s statistics show people with autism—although many are considered high-functioning—struggle more with finding work than people with other developmental disabilities. And although abundant services exist to identify and provide treatment for children with autism, far fewer programs help young adults adjust to life after school.
Many parents and families worry about the future for their children with autism. However, several major corporations—especially those in the tech industry—recently launched programs specifically to recruit and train adults with autism. Microsoft, SAP, Walgreens, Freddie Mac, AMC Theaters, Vodafone, Procter & Gamble, Capital One, CAI and Willis Towers Watson all seek employees with autism.
NPR’s story interviews several employers who report stellar work done by people on their staff with autism. They might make minor accommodations—reserving a conference room chair for an employee, lowering lighting, or providing a work station in a quiet corner, for example. Most of these changes require little effort, however, and result in consistent, detailed work from those employees, the employers report. Mark Grein, executive director of Specialisterne USA—a company helping people with autism find work as consultants—offers this advice to companies: “Our recommendation is just clear communication in terms of expectations. Be able to provide rules.”